Friday, October 24, 2014

Curating in post-quake Christchurch

Lara Strongman is the new senior curator at the Christchurch Art Gallery, replacing Justin Paton who moved on to take up the position of Head of International Art  at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In the latest issue of the Bulletin, Strongman talks about her approach to writing and curating in post-quake Christchurch. Read more...
Image: Lara Strongman, senior curator at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu

Frieze post from China

In this frieze blog post, Carol Yinghua Lu comments on the origin and development of participatory practices and social intervention in the field of contemporary art in China, and a more recent drift away from the political and social realm towards the market where new auction records get more WeChat time than the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Read more...
Image: pro-democracy protester in Hong Kong

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Art combines with luxury shopping in Shanghai

While in Shanghai we saw another new addition to the city's expanding art infrastucture. Devised by Massimo Torrigiani (former director of ShContemporary), Davide Quadrio (founder and director of the not-for-profit space BizArt and ArtHub Asia), and Donna Chan (also ex-ShContemporary), Art in the City combines an exhibition platform with a series of events to be held throughout the year where Art in the City maintains contact with galleries, bringing prospective clients to their spaces for tours and talks. It is also supported by a mobile app and website, which are constantly updated with the latest information on galleries and institutions in Shanghai.

Staged in the K11 Art Mall, the inaugural edition of the annual event, featured presentations by 15 leading local galleries, including Arario Shanghai, FQ Projects, Hakgojae Shanghai, Mao Space, Pearl Lam and ShanghART. Timed to coincide with ShContemporary (which was dogged this year by potentially fatal problems) the exhibition offers a viable platform for local galleries on the lookout for new ways to expand the art market - and the K11/Art in the City mix of art and high-end commerce fits the bill.

K11 is the brainchild of Chinese billionaire and art patron Adrian Cheng. It's a mall, with a dedicated art space, where art meets luxury shopping and with an in-house team that programmes the gallery space and the placement of art throughout the building. Cheng has another K11 in Hong Kong and plans to open others across China in Beijing, Guangzhou and rapidly developing cities like Shenyang, Tianjin, Haikou, Ningbo and Guiyan.
Image: the entrance to the K11 art space

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shanghai's must-see museums: Long Museum

The Long Museum is the the last of the museums we visited during a recent trip to Shanghai. Established by collector Wang Wei and her billionaire husband Liu Yiquan, it is the largest privately-owned museum in China, spanning over 33,000 square metres with 16,000 square metres of exhibition space.

The museum has adopted a novel approach to programming. Rather than appointing curators, well-known domestic and foreign curators are invited to work with an in-house academic department to develop concepts into exhibitions. The concept for the current exhibition, About 1199 People (which was being installed while we were there), was developed by artist Xu Zhen with Hans Ulrich Obrist. Xu selected the works (all from the Long Museum collection) and he and Obrist will discuss the exhibition and related topics in conversations to be published in the exhibition catalogue.

While we didn't see About 1199 People, we did visit the galleries dedicated to museum's exceptional collection of traditional Chinese art, which along with the striking architecture and gigantic, vaulted spaces for contemporary art makes it one of Shanghai's must-see art museums.
Images: Long Museum (West Bund) interior; Lv Ji, Ming Dynasty, 168.6 x 97cm (detail); Song Huizong, Northern Song Dynasty, ink on paper, 27.5 x 525cm

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Butt plug or Christmas tree?

Vandals have deflated a Paul McCarthy sculpture in an exclusive Paris square after outraged conservative groups said it resembled a giant sex toy. The artist (who was slapped in the face by an outraged passer by) said it was inspired by an anal plug, but it was an abstract work that could also be seen as a Christmas tree. France's minister of culture Fleur Pellering, stepped in saying it was"an inadmissable attack on the freedom of creation" and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, added "Paris will not yield to the threats of those who attack artistic freedom." However, McCarthy says he doesn't intend to repair or reinstall the art work - perhaps because he is preparing another installation in Paris in a working chocolate factory that hosts contemporary art installations, and where visitors will be able to see Santa Claus holding a smaller butt plug.
Image: Paul McCarthy's Tree in Vendome Square, Paris.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Coming up at Starkwhite

Seung Yul Oh's new exhibition mem mem opens at Starkwhite on Friday 31 October. Elizabeth Caldwell and Cam McCracken, the directors of the co-organising galleries of Oh's survey exhibition MOAMOA, will also be at the opening to launch their new publication on Oh, which includes an interview with Korean curator Sunjung Kim.
Image: two new paintings from Seung Yul Oh's Periphery series

Friday, October 17, 2014

Shanghai's must-see museums: Rockbund Art Museum

Near Shanghai's fabled Bund, you can find Thomas Ou's Rockbund Art Museum housed in a beautifully restored 1933 Art Deco building that was at one time home to the Royal Asiatic Society. The Rockbund is a comparatively small, but innovative space with a impressive record of shows with artists and curators such as Cai Guo-Qiang, Zheng Fanshi, Paola Pivi, Hou Hanru and Fumio Nanjo among others.

The Rockbund is currently showing Ugo Rondinone's Breathe, Walk, Die, an installation staged over five of the gallery's floors. The walls are painted floor to ceiling with colours that move from cool to warm in tandem with the coloured filters on the windows. Each floor has circular canvases of blurred concentric colours, all combining to form a backdrop for 40 impassive clowns doing nothing. It's a beautiful, but disturbing piece -  the best show in town, in the smallest museum space, and proof (in a ciiy known for its massive museums) that bigger isn't always better.
Images: Ugo Rondinone's Breathe, Walk, Die at Shanghai's Rockbund Art Museum

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shanghai's must-see art museums: Power Station of Art

The Power Station of Art is another must-see art museum in Shanghai - an old coal-fired plant converted into a 41,000 square metre contemporary art museum at a cost of US64 million. Unlike the city's raft of new privately-funded museums, the Power Station of Art is China's first state-funded art museum, allowing it to take on a wider brief, including hosting the Shanghai Biennale, which opens on 22 November.

Most of the museum is currently dedicated to an exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang, one of China's most celebrated artists. The Ninth Wave is a spectacular show with a message reminding viewers of their relationship with an increasingly precarious environment and with nature, a connection that Cai views as being a casualty of China's economic miracle and becoming an industrial factory to the world.

The show kicked off with fireworks released from a barge on Huangpu River, which required temporary halting of boat traffic on the busy river, and begins in the main downstairs hall with the signature work in the show - a dilapidated Chinese fishing boat filled with sick animals - lions, wolves, camels, monkeys, gazelles, pandas and zebras.

On the second floor is a nearly 100 foot long panoramic painting The Bund Without Us, depicting Shanghai's riverfront reclaimed by nature and rendered in his signature medium of gunpowder ignited on paper. Nearby is Head On, an installation of 99 wolves leaping en masse into a glass wall, which takes viewers to one of the most spectacular works in the show - Silent Ink. Cai excavated a large depression in the concrete floor of one of the upstairs spaces and filled it with thousands of gallons of black ink used for traditional calligraphy. An overhead nozzle shoots ink into the pool, which is surrounded by the concrete rubble and bent steel reinforcing, all piled up to take on the appearance of mountains in a classical landscape painting.

The show ends on a dark note in the former power plant's towering chimney stack, which once pumped toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Inside, Cai has installed Air of Heaven, a children's swing with three demented looking babies, silently swinging back and forth.

The Ninth Wave shows Cai's ability push the boundaries of political art in a culture where it can be a risky practice. And the Power Station of Art's commitment to contemporary art practice and working alongside artists like Cai Guo-Qiang places it in the lineup of Shanghai's must-see art museums.
Images: Cai Guo-Qiang's fireworks on the Huangpu River (top) and installation views of The Ninth Wave at the Power Station of Art

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shanghai's must-see art museums

China is going through a museum boom, which some observers say is outstripping the country's museum practice. Positioned as flagship stores of culture, the new museums are often criticised for their poorly presented exhibits, aimless curating and ineffectual public outreach. But China also has a growing number of world-class museums and galleries - nowhere more so than in Shanghai, a city of 25 million people and one clearly set on becoming China's cultural centre.

We visited some of Shanghai's museums (old and new) during a recent visit and we'll post short pieces on them over the next few days.

The first in our suite of must-see art museums in Shanghai is the Yuz Museum, the 9000 square metre building on Shanghai's West Bund Cultural Corridor that was converted from an airport hanger by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. Established by Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek, the Yuz Museum opened this year with Myth/History, an exhibition of works drawn from Tek's collection and curated by Wu Hung, the founder and director of the Centre for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago. The show includes an impressive array of large-scale works in the 3000 square meter main exhibition hall, including Maurizio Cattelan's Untitled (Olive Tree), Xu Bing's Tobacco Project, Adel Abdessemed's Telle mere tel fils and Peng Yu's Freedom, and the flanking 6000 square meters of spaces contain paintings, photographs and sculptures that are integral to the evolution of Chinese contemporary art.

The Yuz Museum has all the hallmarks of a great private art museum: it backed by a billionaire art collector (resources are unlikely to pose a challenge), it is housed in a gigantic architect-designed and retro-fitted building, it is supported by a great private collection and, perhaps most significantly, the Yuz has a clearly articulated vision and demonstrated commitment to staging well-curated exhibitions.

You can read an ArtAsiaPacific review of Myth/History here.
Images:  Maurizio Cattelan's Untitled (Olive Tree) and Abdessemed's Telle mere tel fils at the Yuz Museum

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Co-curator Gregory Burke talks about La Biennale de Montreal

La Biennale de Montreal L'avenir (looking forward) opens next week and runs to 4 January 2015. In a recent interview with Art Review, co-curator Gregory Burke (a former director of New Zealand's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery) talks about the theme of the biennale and how it will be articulated. Read more...
Image: Emmanuelle Leonard, Postcard from Bexhill-on-Sea (video still), 2014

Gish Prize to fund Maya Lin's ongoing environmental project

One of the world's richest art prizes, the USD300,000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, is being awarded to artist Maya Lin. Now in its 21st year, the Prize is given annually to "a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life."

Best known for her Vietnam War Memorial, Lin has gone on to make work about the environment. She says the award will help her continue with her ongoing project What is Missing?, which combines art and science to increase awareness about the loss of biodiversity and natural habitats.
Image: Maya Lin's A Fold in the Field at The Farm, Kaipara, New Zealand

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (CNZM) 1943-2014

After a long and distinguished career as a curator, historian and teacher, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki passed away on friday.

Mane-Wheoki is best known in visual arts circles as a powerful advocate for contemporary Maori art, at various times holding positions as Dean of Music and Fine Art at Canterbury University, Head of the School of Fine Arts and the University of Auckland and head of Visual Culture at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. But he was also a highly respected architectural and cultural historian, valued for his ability to contribute to the work of arts organisations with a wider brief, such as the Arts Foundation of New Zealand where he served as a member of the Foundation's College of Governors. He made a difference and will be sorely missed.

A Requiem Mass will be held for Jonathan at Auckland's Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on Saturday from 10:30 am to 12:30pm, after which he will be taken to his marae in the Hokiangia for burial.
Image; Jonathan Mane-Wheoki with Colin McCahon's Parihaka Triptych

Upstairs at Starkwhite

Upstairs we showing a sampler of Billy Apple's work which includes Billy Apple Bleaching with Lady Clairol Instant Crème Whip November 1962 and a suite of his transaction works.
Image: Billy Apple, IOU 

This week at Starkwhite

Rebecca Baumann's Once more with feeling continues at Starkwhite this week through to 25 October. You can read an exhibition review here.
Image: Rebecca Baumann's Once more with feeling (2014), installation view, Starkwhite

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hayward show lights up the Auckland Art Gallery

If last night's opening is anything to go by, the Auckland Art Gallery has a must-see exhibition to end the year with. The gallery's reception space was jammed with people poised to flow into the Light Show after the speeches were over.

Organised by the Hayward Gallery, the exhibition features light-based art by leading international artists including Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, Jenny Holzer, Ann Veronica Janssens and James Turrell and runs at the Gallery to 8 February 2015.
Image: Carlos Cruz-Diez's Chromosaturation

Auction house withdraws forgeries when told they were fakes

Two forged Monet paintings were withdrawn from auction in Auckland this week - not because they were forgeries, but rather because they were fake forgeries. Promoted as paintings by the legendary forger Elmyr de Hory, they proved to be rip-offs painted by the London bookmaker Ken Talbort who claimed to own more than 400 de Hory works.

The fakes were spotted online by de Hory's former personal assistant and sole heir Mark Forgy, who said the irony of the famous faker being copied wasn't lost on him. "The subject of others forging his works came up only one time. We both contemplated that for a moment and laughed at the far-fetched notion," he said.
Image: Monet's In the Woods at Giverny, one of the paintings copied by de Hory and Talbot 

Friday, October 10, 2014

MoMA prepares for huge crowds at Matisse blockbuster

After attracting more than half a million people at the Tate Modern, Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs is about to open at MoMA, where the museum will require Matisse fans to buy tickets allowing them to enter the museum only at a certain time. This policy aimed at regulating huge crowds has only been enacted for two shows in recent years -  the retrospective of filmmaker Tim Burton and Van Gogh and Colours of the Night.
Image: Henri Matisse cut out

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An essential companion for anyone interested in New Zealand art

Wystan Curnow is New Zealand's longest serving and most important art critic. The Critic's Part brings together a selection of his art writings from 1971 to 2013 and features his long form essays that investigate the stakes for 'high culture' in a 'small province' like New Zealand; major essays on key artists including Len Lye, Colin McCahon and Billy Apple; reports on the contemporary art scene; and catalogue essays and short reviews offering insightful readings of art and artists in all their material and conceptual specificity. Edited by Christina Barton and Robert Leonard, the book is "a map of contemporary theory and practice and a cogent agenda for thinking through the implications and challenges of making art here."

Monday, October 6, 2014

New minister for arts, culture and heritage

Maggie Barry is New Zealand's new Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, replacing Chris Findlayson who takes on responsibility for New Zealand's spy agencies. Barry is a former news and current affairs reporter, television and radio broadcaster, magazine feature writer for the NZ Listener, and co-producer and presenter of Maggie's Garden Show. She lives with partner Grant Kerr, an art patron/collector of contemporary New Zealand photographer and member of the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand.
Image: Maggie Barry

This week at Starkwhite

Rebecca Baumann's Once more with feeling continues at Starkwhite this week through to 21 October. You can read an exhibition review here.
Image: Rebecca Baumann's Once more with feeling (2014), installation view detail, Starkwhite