Posts Tagged ‘China’

Art | Nasreen Mohamedi Meets Taca Sui in New York

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1975
Ink and graphite on paper
Sikander and Hydari Collection



Nasreen Mohamedi
The Met Breuer
NYC | USA
18 March > 5 June 2016

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Taca Sui: Steles – Huang Yi Project
Chambers Fine Art
NYC | USA
31 March > 28 May 2016



Taca Sui, Tomb of Prince Lu #2, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



One relatively young and having established his reputation fairly recently, the other being afforded posthumous, retrospective acclaim, parallels, contrasts and coincidences exist between their respective work and the life stories of two Asian artists of different generations, who almost certainly never met, but have shows opening in New York.

Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990) was brought up in Mumbai, often, like New York, described with the epithet ‘the city that never sleeps’. Fine art photographer, Taca Sui was born in Qingdao, like New York, albeit smaller, a port city of skyscrapers. In the mid-1950s, Mohamedi would travel to London to study at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art, while having attended the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2003, Taca went to the United States to continue his studies in 2005.

Taca Sui, Pagoda of Six Harmonies, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1975
Ink and graphite on paper
Sikander and Hydari Collection



The work of both artists is essentially monochrome, but whereas painter, photographer and draughtswoman Mohamedi, influenced by Russian suprematist Kazimir Malevich – a founding father of abstract art – among others, made non-representational paintings, semi-abstract photographs and drawings that bear no relation to Indian traditional art, Taca, who left college to assist American abstract expressionist painter Ronnie Landfield – well-known for his use of vibrant colour –produces work that is strongly rooted in China’s landscape, his images relate to geographic locations suggested in classical Chinese literature and are tied to the history, myths and religious traditions of ancient Han culture.

The calmness of mood in Taca’s work, and the reduction of the elements that make up each image, brings to mind Japanese minimalist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photography, but the artists’ approach to and treatment of respective subject matter is entirely dissimilar. More redolent of the Italian futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia’s drawings, Mohamedi’s graphic work has drawn comparisons with that of minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. It would be a mistake to label either Mohamedi or Taca as minimalist.

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1972
Gelatin silver print
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi



Taca Sui, Feilai Peak, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



On the road to success: their work transformed by their experiences abroad, neither artist completely abandoned their own country for life in the west. Nasreen Mohamedi, having worked for a time in Europe and after spending time in Bahrain, travelled extensively through India, Iran and Turkey, visiting Japan and the USA, before returning to India in the early 1970s to teach in the Faculty of Fine Arts at MS University in Baroda (now Vadodara), while Taca Sui is now based in both Beijing and New York.

Joined in spirit, located in disparate areas of New York, Nasreen Mohamedi opens today at Madison Avenue’s The Met Breuer on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, while Taca Sui: Steles – Huang Yi Project starts in two weeks’ time at Chambers Fine Art in Chelsea, afterwards the shows run concurrently.

All Nasreen Mohamedi images courtesy The Met Breuer
All Taca Sui images courtesy Chambers Fine Art


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Art | Zhao Zhao: Unbroken Star

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Constellations No 11, 2015
Oil on canvas



Zhao Zhao: Constellations II
Chambers Fine Art / 前 波 画 廊
New York City | USA
15 May > 22 August 2015



Multi-media artist, Zhao Zhao 赵赵



In August 2012, Spiegel Online reported that China was cracking down on Ai Wei Wei protégé, Zhao Zhao. Meanwhile, top British art book publisher Phaidon’s blog, at the head of a post that posed the question ‘Is Zhao Zhao set to become the next Ai Wei Wei?’ showed an installation view of Officer, Zhao’s broken Chinese officer sculpture exhibited at Chambers Fine Art, in 2011. Ai Wei Wei (b 28 August 1957, Beijing, China), although forced to remain in Beijing, and Zhao Zhao – who worked with the latter for seven years – against all odds, and with continuing global support, enjoy phenomenal and well-deserved international success.

Since 2011, as well as featuring in numerous group shows around the world, Zhao Zhao (b Xinjiang, China, 1982), ignored by the Chinese press, has had the following solo exhibitions:

2012 Nothing Inside, Alexander Ochs Gallery, Beijing, China
2013 Zhao Zhao: Constellations, Chambers Fine Art, New York, USA
2014 Zhao Zhao: Uncertainty, Chambers Fine Art, Beijing, China
2015 Zhao Zhao: Omnipresent, Roberts & Tilton, California, USA



Constellations No 10, 2015
Oil on canvas



His forthcoming show, Zhao Zhao: Constellations II, is a continuation of the fragments theme, triggered by his involvement in a serious motor accident in 2011, when his head hit the windscreen of a car he was travelling in. Recovering, turning his misfortune around, he rescued the shattered glass and used the pattern of cracks caused by the violent impact as inspiration for his sculpture, Fragments (2007) – a steel slab assembled from numerous irregular pieces radiating from the centre. It appeared again in Untitled (2013), a painting of a possibly dead and probably raped, naked and spreadeagled woman in an exaggeratedly heavy and ornate, gilt frame, in which the glass has been violently broken, cracks spreading out from a point between the woman’s thighs.

For the Constellations series, with difficulty, and great personal risk – in China private ownership of guns is illegal – Zhao experimented with shooting bullets into glass. Having photographed each result, he stacked them, in different combinations, one on top of the other – the exhibition catalogue cover is a digital, composite photograph made up of thirty images – to create an illusion of space and depth. Afterwards, using a severely restricted palette, with Prussian blue as a common ground, against which the bullet holes resemble stars, he painstakingly reproduced a selection of these as finely-detailed, photo-realistic paintings. New works from the series, will be exhibited in Zhao Zhao: Constellations II at Chambers Fine Art.

Images courtesy of the artist and Chambers Fine Art


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Art | Prune Nourry’s Terra Cotta Daughters

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Terracotta Daughter #1, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #2, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #3, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #4, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #5, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #6, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #7, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #8, 2013


Terracotta Daughter #1–#8, Prune Nourry, 2013
Lithographs, 50 x 70 cm
Edition of 80 + 12 AP
€400.00 each + packing + shipping
More information: info@prunenourry.com

Making its debut last week on a 6.4m / 21ft screen at Art Basel – Miami Beach, Terracotta Daughters, which traces the course of multi-disciplinary French artist Prune Nourry’s latest project, is a full-length feature documentary. The large-scale finished work itself, the Terracotta Daughter Army, presented for the first time at Magda Danysz Gallery in Shanghai in September, 2013, comprises 108 unique, life-size sculptures, produced in collaboration with local Chinese craftsmen, and is the artist’s reflection, through the appropriation of the unearthed Xi’an two-thousand-two-hundred-year-old Terracotta Warrior army, upon the issue of gender imbalance in China. It has been extended into the edition of eight prints shown above.

Prune Nourry, born in 1985, New York-based, where she is currently resident artist at the Invisible Dog Center, Brooklyn, presented her project Genesis – a demure pole dance, in which a model in skin-coloured leotard performs to a slow classical piece by Vivaldi – for the first time at the historic Casino Venier in conjunction with the 2013 Venice Biennale.

In 2010, as part of a 3-year project based around gender imbalance in India, drawing parallels between the cow – sacred animal and symbol of fertility – and her observance of the undervalued condition of India’s women, Nourry created life-like figurative sculptures, the Holy Daughters, that were part sacred cow, part girl, in resin, placing them in the streets of New Delhi before stepping back to film the reactions of local men. Bronze sculptures of the same design were included in exhibitions in 2011, in Berlin and Paris. She has taken part in many international group shows since 2004, as a performance artist as well as contributing installations, and had her first solo show in 2011.

After Shanghai, the Terracotta Daughter Army goes on a world tour, stopping first in Paris at the Centquatre Art Centre and Magda Danysz Gallery, and visiting Switzerland and the USA, before returning to China in 2015, where it is to be buried – the event no doubt, documented on film – until 2030.

Photos Anne-Gloria Lefevre
Courtesy Prune Nourry


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Andrew Wyeth in China

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Andrew Wyeth in Beijing & Hong Kong
Yuan Space, Beijing, China
14th April – 12th May, 2012
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
24th – 30th May, 2012
Christie’s, New York, USA
Date to be announced, September, 2012

When Snoopy’s dog house burned down in November 1966, sadly his Van Gogh was destroyed along with it, but the strip’s cartoonist, Charles M Schulz, saw to it that the painting was quickly replaced with one by the artist Andrew Wyeth, of whose work he was a great admirer. In 1977 Wyeth was the first American artist since John Singer Sargent to be elected to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. A Wyeth retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006, running over 15 weeks, drew more than 175,000 visitors, the museum’s highest-ever attendance for a living artist. In 2007 he received the National Medal of Arts from George W Bush and in the same year, in the Springfield Up episode of The Simpsons, Mr Burns has a painting of Wyeth’s iconic Christina’s World, 1948 – MoMA Collection, bought in 1948 for $1800 – in his den, except that in his version Burns lanky body replaces the more shapely female figure. The entire neighbourhood of Thunder Hill in the village of Oakland Mills, Columbia in Maryland has street names derived from his paintings. But although Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was one of the most popular and revered artists in the history of American art, perhaps it was for this very popularity that he was also one of its most criticised, especially within the art world. According to Michael Kimmelman, who wrote Wyeth’s obituary in The New York Times: ‘Because of his popularity – a bad sign to many art world insiders – Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject. ‘Kimmelman went on to say that art critics mostly heaped abuse on Wyeth’s work, saying he gave realism a bad name. Hopper’s realism was okay, apparently, but Wyeth’s wasn’t. Some experts regarded him as a facile realist, not an artist but merely an illustrator. Lashing out in all directions and perhaps further isolating himself, Wyeth expressed general disdain for the abstract expressionists. And so the antagonistic situation festered and boiled throughout the latter part of his life.

Andrew Wyeth was born into an artistic family in Chadds Ford, a small town in Pennsylania, about 30 miles from Philadelphia. His father NC Wyeth was a well-known illustrator, whose fame and talent in the 1920s attracted the attention of celebrities such as F Scott Fitzgerald who would come to visit him. NC drove his frail and ailing son – too feeble to attend school – hard, pushing him to develop drawing skills at an early age with the obsessive goal of making him follow in his father’s footsteps and become an illustrator. But Andrew resisted, preferring to paint the deserted landscapes he discovered on his wanderings. He liked the idea that figures could be implicit in his paintings but nevertheless went on to include in them his friends, a black handyman (A Crow Flew By 1949-50), and neighbours Karl and Anna Kuerner. Although he adapted portraits of others to include details of his father, who died in 1945, Wyatt never painted him. His ‘Helga‘ series of more than 200 paintings and sketches came with a whiff of scandal – he didn’t tell his wife about them until they were finished in 1985 – and received national publicity, travelling to major cities throughout the USA. These intimate studies – many of them full figure nudes – of neighbour Helga Testorf, made him very rich.

In Wyeth’s style of painting, that became known as ‘Magic’ Realism, everyday scenes are imbued with a dream-like air of mystery, coupled with barely concealed melancholy. He recorded the arid Pennsylvania and Maine landscapes, rural houses, and rickety shacks with great detail, painting in each tiny blade of grass, individual strands of hair, and every subtle nuance of light and shadow. The Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford houses much of the Wyeth collection.

Wyeth’s work was as rural as Warhol’s was urban, his nudes as earthy as Warhol’s girls (and boys) were dirty, but while the rural can easily look picturesque to the city dweller, and might appear to pander even unintentionally to wide appeal, urban art is by nature of its situation radical and intended for a strictly limited, edgier audience. Ubiquity and the passage of time can render almost any image passé – The Mona Lisa, The Hay Wain, Van Gogh’s SunflowersThe Scream – and perhaps Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World has fallen victim to the same fate. But Warhol’s once iconoclastic Marilyn Diptych has, too – so far to a somewhat lesser extent – and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone LivingDamien Hirst’s shark – will not be immune.

It’s not so surprising, then, that Wyeth’s work as opposed to Warhol’s and Pollock’s was deemed acceptable to the powers that be in 1980s China, where it became immensley popular. The press release for the forthcoming Andrew Wyeth in China exhibitions contains the following quote from Li Xian Ting – often called the godfather of Chinese contemporary avant-garde – academic consultant to the exhibition, who on this occasion may well be toeing the party line: ‘When Wyeth’s work first caught the eyes of artists of this generation, we were mainly under the influence of Socialist Realism from the 40s and (Russian) Peredvizhniki art in which the relation [sic] between the narrative and ideology featured heavily. Historically, young Chinese artists’ classical training was figurative and representational. At the time, the only way to rebel against Social Realism was to embrace Modernism, entailing a complete abandon [sic] of representation. This would have implied, starting from zero to reincarnate a new self under the banners of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. And just as artists found themselves at this impasse, Wyeth’s works appeared. They were melancholic, poetic, but at the same time they developed on the skills and possibilities of representation. This deeply moved the burgeoning Chinese artists and inspired many to ask themselves the question: is it possible for us to hold on to the artistic training we grow up with, and still create something new that is different from Modernist art? And obviously, Wyeth provided them with such a possibility.’ Perhaps Chinese conservatism isn’t so far removed from Middle America’s. Meanwhile, Chinese conceptual artist, architect, designer and activist Ai Weiwei’s first solo exhibition in Italy wow’s the West at the Lisson gallery in Milan until 25th May, 2012.

Paintings from top
Study for ‘Lovers’, 1981
Drybrush and watercolor on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

Citizen Clark, 1957
Drybrush and watercolor on paper laid down on board
©Andrew Wyeth, Private Collection

Faraway, 1952
(Portrait of the artist’s son, Jamie)
Drybrush on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

The Works of Andrew Wyeth is organized by Yuan Space in cooperation with Christie’s and Adelson Galleries

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Photography | Caroline’s Flowers

Friday, February 24th, 2012


A year in flowers

Photographed at Spencers, Great Yeldham, Essex, UK

A herd of black and white cows, with the odd brown one mixed in for good measure, grazed happily, trimming the lower branches of the trees to that uniform, hovering level, so familiar in English parkland, against which the white-painted, squarish silhouette of the house in the classic English Georgian style should have jarred but, on the contrary, was perfectly complementary. At Spencers, deep in the Essex countryside, until her husband’s untimely death in March 2010, life had been pretty hunky-dory for Caroline and William Courtauld.

The previous summer, having been granted permission to take photographs in the beautiful walled garden I turned up one fine day to find Caroline, elegant in Chinese straw hat, loose top and wide-legged, linen trousers, leading a group of ladies on a tour – one of the many she took around the garden and gave tea to each summer amongst organising the jazz festival, to-ing and fro-ing between Hong Kong, where William was a banker, and Spencers, and running Château Marcoux – ‘A hill-top medieval stone house and pigeonnier with panoramic views over Southwest France’s idyllic countryside, fully renovated with a swimming pool and extensive gardens’, as it says on the website. She skipped through the colourful flowerbeds to briefly greet me, then returned to her charges. Over tea in the kitchen, my shoot over, the ladies long gone, Caroline told me a little about the history of the garden and how its renovation was an early commission for the now eminent garden designer, Tom Stuart-Smith. Caroline herself, I discovered, was a retired photographer, film-maker and writer, with several published book and films, mostly concerned with the Far East, to her credit. I remarked upon the many vases of flowers one couldn’t help noticing about the house. Neither prissy, nor overly primped – a universe away from the floral creations of the professional florist – and much like the interiors of the house, which appeared to have undergone a gradual coalescence and now embodied the spirit of its inhabitants, made no pretence to having been styled. Filled with family mementoes, a mixed collection of modern paintings, Chinese and Japanese antiques, the Courtauld’s home exuded an informal, relaxed charm. One of the key elements of her brief to Stewart Smith, Caroline explained, had been that any of the flowering plants put into the garden should be suitable for cutting and bringing into the house, so that at all times of the year, she could have it filled with flowers. During the winter months, the greenhouse, reputedly the oldest in Essex, provided exotic, potted orchids.

I wasn’t to return to begin the project I later formulated and suggested to her until February, 2010. My simple idea was to photograph one of Caroline’s vases of flowers per month, in situe, over the course of a year. However, when I returned in March, she mentioned that William, who I had not met, had become seriously ill and must return from Hong Kong. Within the space of a few weeks he tragically died. Stoic in the face of her grief and despite my protestations, explaining to me that the sale and disposal of the estate was likely to be a protracted affair, Caroline generously insisted on my continuing: allowing me free rein to take pictures of any of the flowers, wherever I found them in the house.

That summer’s jazz festival was cancelled. The property, broken up and being sold off, William and Caroline’s two daughters and their families who lived in cottages on the fringes of the estate, moved out later in the year. After a few false starts, the sale of the main house was eventually agreed in spring 2011. Having returned, on successive visits – keeping a low profile while estate agents and valuers, clip boards in hand, photographers in tow, pawed over the house – I was able to see the project through to completion.

Inevitably, that summer Caroline left, too. She was able to retain the property in France and has bought a house for herself in central London. It has a terrace but no garden. I hope she was able to hold on to some of her precious vases and that they are forever filled with the freshest flowers.

From top
February, 2010
June, 2010
August, 2010
November, 2010

Photographs © Pedro Silmon, 2012

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