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Category: contemporary

Ai Weiwei, 1983

15 August, 2011 (05:00) | ancient, china, contemporary, prints/photographs, sculpture, south asia | By: xensen

This fellow in a New York mood is Ai Weiwei, self-photographed in 1983. His show at Asia Society just completed, but there is still what looks like an excellent exhibition of Buddhist sculptures from Pakistan at the Asia Society Museum, including this handsome Gandharan bloke, on loan from the Lahore Museum:

The Longest Way

7 September, 2009 (06:00) | china, contemporary, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

This fellow walked across China and made a spectacular time-lapse video about it.

Samurai samba

21 May, 2009 (05:00) | contemporary, japan, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

Check out this entrancingly nutty samurai samba. Via Kenneth Ikemoto at the Asian Art Museum blog.


Cut-paper lamps

24 November, 2008 (05:00) | china, contemporary, sculpture | By: xensen

memory cloud lamp by yu jordy fu

The Chinese invented paper, and paper cutting is an art form with a long history there. Yu Jordy Fu is a designer who was trained as an architect at the Royal College of Art in London. She has developed a 3D style of paper cutting that she turns into lamps with clever use of LED or other lighting. A selection of these, such as the Memory Cloud Lamp, above, are for sale on her website.


Memory Cloud Lamp, 21st c., by Yu Jordy Fu (Chinese, b. 1982). Paper.


Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew

20 November, 2008 (05:00) | architecture/public, contemporary, southeast asia | By: xensen

The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew is a Buddhist temple in Tailand that is constructed of beer bottles; it is located in Sisaket province. The temple is said to employ a million bottles in its construction. Not just a masterpiece of recycling, it is also a functioning Buddhist temple.

This photo is from Reuters:

monk in buddhist temple made of beer bottles

Read more »

Zhan Wang’s San Francisco

30 June, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, china, contemporary | By: xensen

zhan wang's san francisco (asian ast museum exhibition)

I posted about Zhan Wang’s San Francisco landscape made of pots and pans before. For this image I used this nifty technique for removing color cast. (Compare the color to this image.)


Fast Food

28 April, 2008 (05:00) | china, contemporary, paintings | By: xensen

fast food, oil painting by chinese artist kang can

This painting by Kang Can (Fast Food III, 2007, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 31.5 inches) is a good example of Chinese Neo-Pop art (it was shown at ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries in Coral Gables, Florida earlier this year). In the contemporary Chinese context pop often has a satiric element, aimed at materialism and self-indulgence. At times, as here, the satire can get a little heavy-handed.


Bird’s Nest

17 March, 2008 (05:00) | architecture/public, china, contemporary | By: xensen

Seven Junipers has been occupied on other matters recently but hopes to return to blogging in earnest in short order.

Here is a trailer for a film about Ai Weiwei’s Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, being constructed by Herzog and de Meuron.


Daruma Sushi

26 February, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, japan | By: xensen

daruma sushi

While we’re on the subject of Daruma, here’s a clever use of a Daruma image as a logo or brand mark. Ordinarily you would might not think kindly of using Daruma in a commercial context, but how can you not love this charming fellow?

The photo is from Orion’s photostream. This Daruma Sushi seems to be in Helsinki, but a web search suggests that it is an international chain, or at least that there are sushi places with this same name in New York, Rome, and many other places. Hope the food is good!

Seikou Hirata Daruma

25 February, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, japan, paintings | By: xensen

daruma image by seikou hirata

This painting by Seikou Daruma, chief priest of Temryuji, is easily recognizable as a Daruma image. Japanese Daruma images typically use a minimum of brushwork and exaggerate what are thought of as Indian facial features. The quality of the figure’s expression is key. This one is a little unusual because most often Bodhidarma is depicted in profile or three-quarter view.

Photo by hira3, some rights reserved.

Zhan Wang reflections

20 February, 2008 (05:00) | china, contemporary, sculpture | By: xensen

Now that the Zhan Wang exhibit has opened at the Asian Art Museum, I amused myself by photographing reflected colors on the stainless steel surfaces of his massive artificial scholar’s rock. The stainless steel of the constructed rock itself has almost no color, but it reflects colors from its surroundings. Oddly, the metalic surface takes on some of the qualities of water. Here are small versions of several images.

zhan wang reflections



11 February, 2008 (05:00) | china, contemporary, sculpture | By: xensen

zhan wang urban landscape, san francisco, in progress

At San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, Chinese artist Zhan Wang is constructing a replica of the city by the bay out of pots and pans. The shiny utensils, stacked by the artist on equally shiny platforms artfully constructed by the museum’s preparators to his specifications, are being arranged to represent the city down to a close level of detail. Here you can see the Transamerica pyramid constructed from cheese grates and salad tongs.

This photo shows the work in progress. It will be completed within the next day or so, and the exhibition, entitled On Gold Mountain: Sculptures from the Sierra by Zhan Wang, will open to the public on Friday, February 15. The title alludes to the Chinese immigrant experience of mining in the Sierra during the Frisco gold rush; the city, called Gold Mountain by the Chinese, was the staging area for the trek to the Sierra.

At this writing a detail of a stainless steel scholar’s rock by Zhan Wang can be seen in the right sidebar.


Smoke on the Water

5 February, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, japan, literature/performance/film/music | By: xensen

On Thursday I showed a Japanese song performed on a Western instrument (the ukulele). Here now is Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” performed on traditional Japanese instruments.

This has got to be seen to be believed.


via Book of Joe


Promoting contemporary Southeast Asian art

28 January, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, southeast asia | By: xensen

vicente manasala, philippines mother and child

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and Yayasan YDY Nusantara of Indonesia have announced a partnership for research and programming at a new facility to be called the New Contemporary Art Centre (NCAC) located in Songzhuang, Beijing (23 km east of the city, not far from the Beijing international airport). Art critic Li Xianting (who coined the terms Cynical Realism and Political Pop) will chair the NCAC’s academic center. The facility will open late in 2008.


Source: Singapore Art Museum & Yayasan YDY Nusantara’s Partnership to Promote Southeast Asian Art | Art Knowledge News


Auspicious Tree with Birds and Two Elephants

17 January, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, paintings, south asia | By: xensen

auspicious tree with birds and elephants

This painting comes from the region of Mithila in India, where domestic wall painting is traditionally practiced by village women on the occasion of marriages and festivals. Since the 1960s, thanks to an initiative launched by the Indian government, the women have also been painting on paper (and are sometimes now joined by men)

This is an image of an auspicious tree with colorful birds and two elephants (22 x 30 in.) The artist’s name is Nidhi, of whom I know nothing. I bought this painting from someone who had recently returned from the region. The elephants with their garland probably express a marriage motif. This image is rather unusual in Mithila painting.


Related: an auspicious tree of life from a Mesoamerican context.


Buddhist painting demonstration in San Francisco

16 January, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, korea, paintings | By: xensen

korean buddhist painting demonstration at the asian art museum of san francisco

At San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum a group of Korean monks has been in residency, producing large paintings and also block prints (visitors can take home freshly printed copies of the heart sutra or other prints). The monks (seunim, a gender-neutral term) include two men, Myung Chun-seunim and Sung Ryun-seunim, and a woman, Seol Min-seunim.

The program will culminate on January 20 with a sacred eye-opening ceremony of two hanging scrolls — the Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara by Seol Min seunim and a guardian figure painting by Myung Chung seunim — that the monks are donating to the museum. During the ceremony, the guardian king’s spirit enters the painting through the eyes, which are the last elements completed. The monks chant invocations to all the Buddhas in the universe to witness the event.


Tsering Nyandak

7 January, 2008 (05:00) | contemporary, himalayas, paintings | By: xensen

tsering nyandak, buddha

I was reading recently about the inaugural show of London’s Rossi & Rossi gallery in its new, larger space at 16 Clifford Street. The show, an exhibition of contemporary Himalayan art called Consciousness and Form, is over now, but one of its artists, Tsering Nyandak, caught my eye. This wonderfully enigmatic painting is called simply Buddha (photo by Jason Sangster). According to the gallery

Tsering Nyandak was born in Lhasa in 1974. From 1985 to 1993 he lived and studied in Dharamsala (India). In 1993, after returning to Tibet, he started studying art under Tsewang Tashi. He has participated in various exhibitions in China, Germany and Nepal and is a founding member of the Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild. For Tsering Nyandak, being an artist is about self-expression and is not culturally stereotypical.

The website of the Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild is here.

Tatsuzo Shimaoka, 1919-2007

3 January, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, contemporary, japan, modern | By: xensen

tatsuzo shimaoka

Japanese ceramics artist Tatsuzo Shimaoka died a few weeks ago of a stroke. He was a proponent of utilitarian pieces, or mingei (a term derived from minshuteki kogei, “craft of the people”). He was designated a “living national treasure” by the Japanese government in 1996.

In an article in Clay Times (November 2001), Richard Busch reports Shimaoka’s recollections of his developing interest in mingei and the apprenticeship process.

One day, at the age of 19 and a freshman at the Tokyo Industrial College, he wandered into the Nihon Mingeikan (Japanese Folk Crafts Museum), which had been started by Soetsu Yanagi and several friends, including potters Kanjiro Kawai, and Shoji Hamada, and was struck by the simple, unpretentious pots and other historical items that had been made by anonymous craftspeople for everyday use. It was a turning point in his life.

“Yanagi called these items the people’s craft or Mingei,” explains Shimaoka, “and he believed that they represent what is truly beautiful — not the highly refined work made by top artisans only for the wealthy few. He claimed that good craft must be convenient and comfortable to use because they are necessary every day. Mingei works must be durable, made in quantity, and affordable. Materials used must be natural and indigenous. At the basis of the Mingei philosophy lies the supposition that the craftsperson lives a healthy life, has a healthy mind, and is always sincere in the pursuit of utility.”

The philosophy hit the young Shimaoka hard. “When I was lost at what to do in the future,” he recalls, “Yanagi’s theory was like fertile rain on barren soil. With my mind decided, I went to Mashiko to visit Hamada, an alumnus of my college, and he agreed to accept me as an apprentice after I graduated. He told me that the basis of ceramics is the wheel, and advised me to learn how to throw pots on the wheel while in school. I did as I was told.”

After graduating from college, and following a stint in the Army during World War II (during which he spent time as a prisoner of war), he apprenticed with Hamada for three years. “In retrospect, those years studying under a great teacher were the basis for my career as a potter,” he says. “He would tell us apprentices to leave aside all that we had studied — as he had done when he left school — and to start with a new slate. Handmade work, he explained, is not to be learned by intellect, but with the body. Technique is not to be taught, but to ambitiously acquire.

“This is the traditional way master artisans always treated their apprentices, and how apprentices gained good craftmanship. I now understand that that was the most effective method for acquiring potting techniques. Today I always have a few apprentices in my house, including students from abroad. I teach them just the way Hamada tought me.”

The image is the main page from one of the artist’s exhibitions at Galerie Besson in London’s West End.

  • Left: Pot, 2005, stoneware with rope-inlay pattern 22.7 cm (h) x 18 cm x 13.9 cm
  • Right: Pot, 2005, stoneware with rope-inlay pattern, 26.4 (h) x 23.3 x 22.5 cm