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Trunk Show

Pioneering contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing on his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, New English calligraphy and his experiences in the New York art scene

Trunk Show

Pioneering contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing on his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, New English calligraphy and his experiences in the New York art scene

Culture > Art


Trunk Show

August 26, 2016 / by Emily Zhang

You’ve teamed up with Louis Vuitton on a trunk featuring your signature New English calligraphy [an English writing system that looks like Chinese characters]. How did this collaboration come about?

1分快三玩法One of Louis Vuitton’s agents came to me and told me about this project. They said Louis Vuitton would open a big centre in Beijing; the trunk would be shown at the opening and then up for auction, with proceeds to fund a public good. They wanted me to use the “four treasures of the study” [the brush, ink, paper and inkstone used in East Asian calligraphic traditions] with the brand’s classic trunk. I thought the combination was very interesting and could bring me into a new arena in creation. 

For this project, you spent two years working on the calligraphy, inspired by contemporary Chinese poet Zhai Yongming’s In Antiquity. Why choose this piece?

I think this piece is very special among all Zhai’s poems; many people love this one. It talks about “distance” – the distance between the past and now. This poem also echoes Louis Vuitton’s concept of travel. In fact, this poem was written to me by Zhai when we were in love – she didn’t mention it in the poem, but we both know about it.

You moved to New York in 1993 at the age of 35, which must have been a challenge, as many Chinese during that period were told to settle down in their 30s. What made you decide to go to the US?

Though I was 35 years old, I didn’t think I should settle down like the middle-aged. I was very interested in contemporary art, but there wasn’t much information about it in China in the ’90s and the cultural atmosphere wasn’t good, either. I was thirsty for more knowledge about contemporary art, so when the opportunity arose, I went.

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Did you try to integrate into the New York art circle? 

1分快三玩法At the beginning, I was just like other artists coming from all over the world, trying my best to get into the mainstream contemporary art system. But now, it appears to be the wrong approach, because getting into a system also means you have to make your uniqueness disappear and become like everyone else. New York isn’t a place for that. Later, when my work was recognised and appreciated by the Western world, people asked about my past and background. I began to think about what made me recognisable and it’s the unique cultural gene I have from China – the Chinese culture and my background of growing up in a socialist environment [during the Cultural Revolution]. I didn’t like my unique gene and tried to hide it at first. But it turned out to be a great treasure, allowing me to see contemporary art from a different vision and angle.

You created New English calligraphy in the US, where the fusion of East and West caught your attention. Was it a natural progression of your art?

1分快三玩法I think artists should create art anywhere they go. If I hadn’t gone to the US, I wouldn’t have created New English calligraphy. My early creations, such as New English calligraphy, were mostly related to cultural conflicts and misinterpretations. You can also see from my experiences that art is the response to the issues or problems artists encounter during their lives.

I heard some companies have made use of New English calligraphy as a way to test jobseekers’ Chinese and English ability. 

1分快三玩法I think those who use my New English calligraphy in interviews don’t want to test people’s language ability. Instead, they want to test logical thinking and the ability to solve awkward situations, or even test candidates’ sense of humour. You know, the Australian education department wrote to me, requesting permission to use my New English calligraphy in their newly designed IQ-test system.

Thirty years ago, you created Book from the Sky in the style of editions from the Song and Ming dynasties, but composed entirely of meaningless glyphs that resemble traditional Chinese characters, which no one could read. But your work today can be understood by anyone from any country. How have your experiences contributed to your recent works? 

1分快三玩法These works have evolved with my understanding of art. After all these years of doing art in the US, I noticed that there are a lot of problems in the art system I followed. There has always been a divide between contemporary art and ordinary people. I don’t like that. So in my later creations, I put in more interaction and affinity. I hope my work gets closer to people and invites them to be involved, that audiences can find inspiration from my work. That’s what I really want. I’ve gradually realised that inspiration and creativity doesn’t come from the comparison of art styles or the study of the art system. They stem from the enlightenment of society. So my work now tends to focus more on societal issues.

You don’t want to be defined as a certain type of artist. But how would you describe what you are doing with calligraphy, writing and language?

The fresh blood of art comes from outside the system. It’s a very simple principle. It’s really hard to stereotype my recent creations. I work in different domains, spaces and concepts. For example, my project Book from the Ground – it’s a piece of writing, but it’s also a calligraphy design, because I used a new form to tell a story. And also my other projects – I can’t find a proper way to describe what I’m doing. I think art is the best way to speak for me. It disturbs people’s stereotypical thinking and knowledge.

You live in Beijing and New York. What roles have the two cities played in your life?

I think Beijing and New York are the most interesting cities in the world. For me, Beijing is a better place to work, because it inspires me a lot. As for living, New York’s a comparatively more comfortable place. If I can’t find my direction or coordinates in Beijing, I’m able to find calmness in New York and think about my work. But I enjoy what I’m doing in Beijing now.

What are you working on right now?

We’re currently working on The Dragonfly Eyes [his first film, based on footage collected and compiled from thousands of surveillance videos]. It’s much harder than we thought. I find this project very interesting because it’s trying to use a new method to express art and it echoes contemporary culture. And next year in May, we’ll have a big exhibition in Rome, based on the civilisation of ancient Rome and the Chinese Jin dynasty.

Images: Xu Bing Studio; Louis Vuitton

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Court Jester

Acclaimed Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan brings his irreverent, prankish work to the windows of Galeries Lafayette in Paris. But who’s the joke’s on?

Court Jester

Acclaimed Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan brings his irreverent, prankish work to the windows of Galeries Lafayette in Paris. But who’s the joke’s on?

Culture > Art


Court Jester

June 24, 2016 / by Charles Oliver

“Art is what you make it, and in Cattelan’s case, that’s just about anything”

Prankish, subversive and at times the joker of the high-art world, Maurizio Cattelan always seeks out extremes as a way of offsetting the realistic depiction of well-practiced social and art-world conventions. The acclaimed self-taught artist’s work teeters into the absurd and ridiculous; often, he seems to revel in how directly the deceitfulness of his art is unmasked. From July 6, upscale department store Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann is spicing up its display windows, exhibition space and dome with Toiletpaper, a new collaboration between Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari.

Born in 1960 in Padua, Italy of humble origins, Cattelan started his career in the ’80s with anti-functional design objects before deciding to shift to the art world, which, in his own words, he found “much more appealing.” Since then, he has become a globally renowned artist; his work has appeared in many of the world’s top art institutions and exhibitions. Without the contradictions, provocations and differing truths that exist simultaneously, coupled with a visual power that imprints itself onto the viewer’s memory, his work wouldn’t be what it is. 

Since 1993, when Cattelan moved to New York, he has split his time between there and Milan. Not owning a studio, he works in situ, as exhibitions offer him the challenge of “finding” new works, which are subsequently fabricated by others rather than being made by the artist himself. Of course, as much of the high-art community dismisses Cattelan’s work outright, it’s also a healthy reminder of the absurdity and pretence of that world – and the artists that perpetuate it. In this respect, his art is redolent of the “spoof” school, in which a parody stops being a parody at some point, and becomes a Dadaist or surrealist artwork on its own merits.


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In this way, Cattelan shares something of the spirit of the Incoherents, a little-known group of Parisian artists in the 1880s whose work anticipated (by about 40 years) the avant-gardism of the 20th century. Incoherent works included bread and cheese, and a reproduction of the Mona Lisa smoking a pipe – which predated Marcel Duchamp’s moustached Mona Lisa 1分快三玩法(1919) by decades. 

What differentiated the Incoherents was their endearing humour, rather than the dogmatism and earnestness
of the more serious rebels who arrived a generation later. 

Cattelan does much the same today, so it seems a savvy move that Galeries Lafayette has invited Cattelan and Ferrari to stage the summer exhibition, named for the biannual experimental art magazine the duo set up in 2010. In a class of its own, the image-only publication features carefully constructed photographs. 

On the surface, the composition shots in Toiletpaper have a quaint, slightly retro feel to them – an artful way of drawing us in, before catching us off guard as we realise what we are actually looking at. Intriguing, comical, startling – the images are guaranteed to leave their mark. Toiletpaper1分快三玩法’s assemblages are inspired by “found images” taken from the internet and magazines; breaking down prevailing codes of fashion, advertising and cinema is the duo’s leitmotif. 

On top of this is an eclectic mix of forms, from consumer items and food to animals of all kinds, alluding to
Cattelan’s artistic output. The main reason the duo originally opted for a magazine as a platform was to ensure
the images circulated among the widest possible audience. With more than 100,000 daily visitors from all corners of the globe visiting the store each July, Galeries Lafayette is sure to get high traffic as well. 

For the window displays, Toiletpaper1分快三玩法 presents 11 images, featured on Boulevard Haussmann. The artistic duo offers visitors a witty, food-inspired take on France’s capital, in a flourish of summery colours with hints of blue, white and red as seen on the national flag. 

In the Galerie des Galeries exhibition, the duo plays with the setting – creating a store, exhibition space and gathering place all in one, the project is a collaborative
effort with designers Seletti and Gufram; the fantastic four have produced a variety of everyday objects tinged with their characteristic surrealistic images. 

Finally, taking the duo’s trademark wit to new heights, the store’s dome will also accommodate their much-admired cactus, combining Franco Mello and Guido Drocco’s iconic 1972 coat rack with two eggs. 

Subversive? It’s trademark – and seemingly coherent – Cattelan. Get thee to Galeries Lafayette this summer, and ask yourself: is it art, retail, commerce, or all three? While you’re debating, consider Andy Warhol, who said that malls were the galleries of tomorrow. Art is what you make it, and in Cattelan’s case, that’s just about anything. 

From July 6 to September 10 at Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann.

Images: © Toiletpaper

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“Art is Not Aesthetics”

Renowned Beijing-based multimedia and video artist Cao Fei discusses her recent New York exhibition and her involvement in the second #GucciGram project, in which global artists have created works featuring the Gucci Tian motif

“Art is Not Aesthetics”

Renowned Beijing-based multimedia and video artist Cao Fei discusses her recent New York exhibition and her involvement in the second #GucciGram project, in which global artists have created works featuring the Gucci Tian motif

Culture > Art

“Art is Not Aesthetics”

June 24, 2016 / by Yi-jie

Your first solo exhibition in New York recently launched. What do you aim to bring US audiences?

In past years, I participated in exhibitions or projects held by a variety of museums and organisations, so I believe that US audiences might be familiar with some of my work. For this, MoMa PS1 presents all my previous artworks as a whole and makes them connected for the first time.

You collaborated with Asian hip-hop parody group Notorious MSG, performing Straight out of Times dressed as a dim-sum girl. How did that come about?

As I prepared for my [2006 video project] Hip-Hop Performance at the Lombard Freid Projects in New York City, I found a music video called Straight out of Canton on the internet. The video was by New York-based hip-hop group Notorious MSG. The three core members of the band were Chinese-Americans working at a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown. I invited them to perform in Hip-Hop Performance and we became
friends after. I collaborated with Notorious MSG again because they represent the rebellious images of the Chinese, including Asian immigrants,
in the US. When Notorious MSG perform on the stage, their dream to become stars confronts the identity of immigrants and kitchen workers.

Why use video and various digital techniques to study the social lives of Chinese people?

I’m interested in the relationships between social development and human beings, including the impact of lifestyle, social revolution, technological innovation and media reality. That’s why the medium of digital technology became one of my interests. Today, we are living in an all-round digitalised world, where living environments, communications and consuming patterns are all digital. As an artist, I feel very encouraged about contributing to such a medium that’s associated with contemporary development. On the other hand, it makes us consider all the questions the medium brings. 

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Your artwork has evolved from video art to the broader visual spectrum. What experiences have most influenced your art?

I participated in the Zone of Urgency exhibition, curated by Hou Hanru at the Venice Biennale in 2003. I read Hou’s On the Mid-Ground and was also influenced by architect Rem Koolhaas’ research on the Pearl River Delta region. Urban Chinese1分快三玩法 magazine, edited by Jiang Jun, and the local independent film organisation U-thèque, founded by Ou Ning, have also influenced my art a lot in terms of globalisation and urbanisation.

When you became a mother, did that additional identity influence your artwork? 

Having kids expanded my expression of the connection between daily life and art. Family gives me peace. 

You lived in Guangzhou, then Beijing. What’s the difference between the two cities in terms of the ecosystem for art?

1分快三玩法In Starbucks in Guangzhou, girls are weaving and boys are discussing kitchen equipment. In Starbucks in Beijing, girls are reading, while others are talking about art investment, business incubators and expropriation. The two cities are different, but they are both very real.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, you said,“I am quite independent and not really involved in the art circle in Beijing.” How does this independence affect your creations?

I haven’t meant to be independent; I came from the southern part of China. On the one hand, I am willing to accept new things. On the other, I preserve my traditions – for example, I speak Cantonese, eat yue [Cantonese] cuisine and love plants. No one can define Beijing’s art circle, so there’s no way to talk about being in the circle or out of it. It’s not important anyway.

Art is not only about aesthetics, but also function. Which one is more important? 

1分快三玩法Art is not aesthetics; it helps to break the unconscious boundaries. Art is not formulaic and there’s no pattern for it. Sometimes it even has nothing to do with aesthetics or function.

In recent years, your art has gained a lot of international attention. Have you considered moving abroad? 

Not yet. The world is flat, so it’s easy to get in touch. 

What are your plans for the coming years?

1分快三玩法I’m doing the BMW Art Car series and there will be a solo exhibition in Hong Kong at the end of this year. In 2017, I will hold a solo exhibition in Beijing.

How do you see Gucci’s contribution in relation to the art/fashion debate with the #GucciGram project?

I have seen the innovation in this brand. Alessandro Michele [Gucci’s creative director] has led it in a new spiritual direction. If you can work in the garment business, all the while considering contemporary society and having a deep soul, the world could be more colourful. 

Do you anticipate more in the way of Gucci projects?

From the aspect of design, Alessandro redefines the traditional brand image, taking a bold step forward. Alessandro and his team love contemporary art, and the #GucciGram project makes the most of social media, so maybe it’s a good sign.

Images: Courtesy of Cao Fei and Vitamin Creative Space


Water World

1分快三玩法Site-specific underwater sculptor and marine conservationist Jason deCaires Taylor discusses his unique approach to art in unexplored aquatic terrains

Water World

Site-specific underwater sculptor and marine conservationist Jason deCaires Taylor discusses his unique approach to art in unexplored aquatic terrains

Culture > Art

Water World

May 27, 2016 / by Emily Zhang

You’re currently working on the Lanzarote project in Spain. Which phase of the process are you in now?

The project, Museo Atlantico, will be completed in January next year. We’re doing all the construction at the moment. The museum is going to have 350 sculptures: ten different kinds of installations. At the moment, we have only installed the first four, so we still have a lot of work to do this year to finish on time.

In the underwater sculpture field, you’ve completed numerous projects in the Bahamas, Mexico, the Antilles and many other places. By doing this, are you seeking a new way to perceive the arts?

Yes, of course it’s a new way to experience art – a new way to look at the continent on which we live. But it’s also exploring a new space. You know, two-thirds of the planet is covered with water and we don’t know a great deal about it. So the idea of the work is actually encouraging more people to go underwater to see what an incredible world there is – and hopefully that will lead to more people try to protect it. I’m not worried what they think about the artwork so much; I care about whether they care about the environment.

Tell us about the obstacles you face.

I have many obstacles. At the moment, I’m building a sculpture that uses around 300 figures. I have to fix them all together in my studio – they weigh around 80 tonnes. I have to move them all from the studio and reassemble them underwater. It’s very difficult. Also, the weather is very volatile. I have to really affix the sculptures to the sea floor so they don’t move, and so they can’t be changed by the current or waves.

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Where do you find the models for your unique sculptures?

1分快三玩法It depends on the sculpture and what the piece is about. Quite often, it’s just people I research or find in the street. Sometimes I use social media or advertise. I have a waiting list of people who want to be models. At this moment, I’m actually looking for a Chinese model. I might advertise – I think it might be easier.

You have a very deep relationship with the ocean. What specifically captures your imagination?

To integrate my art into the ocean, it’s really about the conservation; making art isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about function as well. In terms of what inspires me, it depends. Sometimes my anger inspires me.

What does that mean?

1分快三玩法I get angry when I witness how we destroy our planet. That inspires me to create more pieces. But also, I’m inspired by the inherent beauty of the underwater world. It’s incredible to witness just by being an observer, by going underwater, by seeing how coral colonises rocks, how it has incredibly detailed formation. It’s amazing. I feel like if we can combine the human hand with that sort of thing, we can get incredible results.

You’ve said that once you put your art into the ocean, it belongs to the ocean. Before that, how do you ensure the aesthetics stay constant?

Obviously I expect them to change, but I always try to predict how that will change. Sometimes I plant corals on them, sometimes I make the scale larger. So I always try to adjust how it will be read under the water.

After the installation, do you make plans to maintain or preserve your sculptures?

No – the idea is that they get completely consumed by nature. But they shouldn’t get damaged in hurricanes. They were made to be very heavy – some of them weigh like 20 tonnes. They’re all fixed to the sea floor, so the idea is that they don’t get damaged but will be changed by the environment.

Which artists inspire you?

I very much love the work of Tara Donovan, Roxy Paine and many others. One of my favourites is a Chinese artist, Cai Guoqiang. He is brilliant, using fireworks to do the paintings. He is really fantastic.

If you could place one of your sculptures anywhere in the world, where would your ideal location be?

I’m not sure. I would like to find a location where I could make a glass tunnel under the water, so that people could get close without having to dive or to get into the water. That would be really interesting for me.

Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?

Yes, I’m looking for new opportunities in the Mediterranean. I want to do more work in Asia in the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the most diverse and incredible ecosystems in the world. It would be wonderful to do a project in Asia.

Images: artist and photographer Jason deCAires Taylor (www.underwatersculpture.com)

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Shining a Light: The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism

The Rolling Stones bring Exhibitionism 1分快三玩法to London’s Saatchi Gallery. Satisfaction guaranteed

Shining a Light: The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism

The Rolling Stones bring Exhibitionism to London’s Saatchi Gallery. Satisfaction guaranteed

Culture > Art

Shining a Light

April 1, 2016 / by Charles Oliver

“We’ve been thinking about this for quite a long time, but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale,” says rock legend and frontman of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger. “The process has been like planning our touring concert productions and I think that right now it’s an interesting time to do it.” 

The ‘it’ Jagger’s referring to is quickly becoming the UK’s must-see event of the year. Running from April 5 to September 4, the Stones are staging their inaugural international exhibition at London’s much-heralded Saatchi Gallery on King’s Road in London. Called Exhibitionism1分快三玩法, the £4 million mega-show will be the most comprehensive and immersive insight into a group described by many critics as “the greatest rock ’n’ roll band”, taking over nine themed galleries that spread across two floors (comprising 19,000 square feet) at the prestigious Chelsea-based gallery. 

1分快三玩法Says Charlie Watts, drummer: “It’s hard to believe that it’s more than 50 years since we began, and it is wonderful to look back to the start of our careers and bring everything up to date at this exhibition.”

And at the Saatchi Gallery, no less. Founded in 1985, its owner, Charles Saatchi, has forged a reputation for bringing contemporary art to as wide an audience as possible. Over the last five years, the gallery has hosted 17 out of the top 20 most visited exhibitions in London; it is also one of the world’s top five most liked galleries on Facebook and Twitter. 

1分快三玩法Ronnie Wood, guitarist, says of the venue: “The scene was great down the King’s Road in the 1960s. That was where you went to hang out to watch the fashions go by. So it is appropriate that our show will be housed in the same vicinity at the wonderful Saatchi Gallery.” 

Exhibitionism starts with an introductory film that gives visitors a retrospective gaze at the high points of the band’s career with a high-octane soundtrack, before continuing with more than 500 important and unseen artefacts from the band’s personal archives. The rest takes the public through the band’s fascinating 50-year history, embracing all aspects of art, design, video, fashion, performance and rare sound archives. 


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1分快三玩法At the heart of the event is of course the Stones’ musical heritage, which took the group from a hard-working, drug-and-drink-induced London blues band in the early 1960s (parents were advised to “lock up your daughters” when they came to town) to their transformation into inspirational cultural icons adored by millions. 

The epic undertaking of Exhibitionism1分快三玩法 has taken three years of meticulous planning and offers a comprehensive insight into the band in a way that has never before been attempted. An interactive tour through the band’s vast artistic oeuvre includes original stage designs, dressing room and backstage paraphernalia and iconic costumes. Featured are Mick Jagger’s stage clothes and Keith Richards’ 1957 Les Paul guitar, rare audio tracks and unseen video clips, personal diaries and correspondence, lyrics written in notebooks, original poster and album cover artwork, and unique cinematic presentations. Jagger wants visitors to feel “as if every room they walk into is one we’ve just left that second – or maybe that we’re still there”. 

1分快三玩法That density of detail elevates the show into something more tactile for audiences, thinks guitarist Keith Richards. “While this is about The Rolling Stones, it’s not necessarily only just about the members of the band. It’s also about all the paraphernalia and technology associated with a group like us. And it’s this, as well as the instruments that have passed through our hands over the years, that should make the exhibition really interesting.” 

It’s hard not to be impressed by the show’s scope and scale, particularly given the collaborations and work by the vast array of artists, designers, musicians and writers included in the exhibition – from Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey, Alexander McQueen and Ossie Clark to playwright Tom Stoppard and film director Martin Scorsese. For his part, Warhol designed two album covers for the Stones: Sticky Fingers and Love You Live

1分快三玩法It’s a stirring statement as to how groundbreaking and innovative the Stones’ career has been, as well as a reminder of how the band has ultimately changed the way we experience rock ’n’ roll.

Speaking of the past and his early memories of sharing a dingy bedsit with Richards in Chelsea in the 1960s, Jagger has said, “It’s not limos and Learjets; it’s shillings in a meter.” Despite his 72 years, he’s not bathing in the nostalgia of it all – in fact, quite the opposite: “Yes, it’s about the past. But it’s about the present and it’s about what we’re doing next. We’re not stopping; we’re still on the road. It’s about a sense of The Rolling Stones. It’s something we want people to go away talking about.” 

That’s going to be one long conversation, given the show’s trajectory. Following the Saatchi stint, Exhibitionism travels to 11 cities around the world over a four-year period. For fervent Stones fans, it’s the supreme and ultimate satisfaction. ()

Images: Rolling Stones Archive

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Good Angel, Bad Angel: Michaël Borremans

Belgian painter Michaël Borremans brings his inimitable dislocation of the old and new worlds to Art Basel in Hong Kong

Good Angel, Bad Angel: Michaël Borremans

Belgian painter Michaël Borremans brings his inimitable dislocation of the old and new worlds to Art Basel in Hong Kong

Culture > Art

Good Angel, Bad Angel

February 26, 2016 / by Xavier Zhou

1分快三玩法Michaël Borremans is one of the most celebrated contemporary painters in the world; he’s also an oddity. His technical command of the medium recalls classical painting – the rich tactility and special glow of his painted surfaces evoke the old masters, as well as Francisco Goya’s technique, Édouard Manet’s staged settings, Diego Velázquez’s brushwork and Antoine Watteau’s drawings. However, the compositions of Borremans elude traditional interpretative strategies. 

The tension between the real and the imaginary permeates Borremans’ work. A solemn yet playful mood feels inexplicably topical and of the moment, but also timeless. The lack of context or detail should provide a neutral atmosphere – but in much of his work, it’s psychologically charged, as if his canvases inhabit a twilight zone of experience and dream. Subtle elements within the pictorial structure defy expectations and make clear-cut attempts at decoding their narratives next to impossible.

The Belgian-born Borremans lives and works in Ghent. He has been represented by influential New York dealer David Zwirner since 2001 and has held numerous exhibitions across the globe. Most recently, Borremans celebrated his work from the past two decades with As Sweet as it Gets, an exhibition that debuted in 2014 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and travelled to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art before arriving at the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas. 

The intriguing title hints at the duality of Borremans’ work – it isn’t warm or obviously sweet, and the more one gazes, the more unease creeps out of the clinical images. His figures never look at us; they’re disturbingly absent and hint at unseen horrors or trauma. The artist explains, “The direct gaze is pointless. The painting would then become a portrait.” Borremans doesn’t paint to reflect reality, but to capture a broader narrative. “I always paint culture. Even if I depict a human figure, it’s already the representation of a human figure that I want to represent. In my opinion, painting from nature is very, very old-fashioned.” 

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1分快三玩法Also an engraver, photographer, filmmaker, etcher, sculptor and draughtsman, Borremans’ paintings have a cinematic quality to them, not unlike Alfred Hitchcock’s knack for creating suspense. He’s an artful stager of action, where the power of suggestion and a deliberate haze override clear depiction. Seemingly banal works can transport you to another realm – and almost every time the viewer sees one of his canvases, it seems they’ve arrived too late to understand the context of what’s exactly going on in the image. His pictures are never gruesome, as such, but there’s a persistent feeling of danger, a radiant pain.

1分快三玩法Confidence and maturity have been at the heart of Borremans’ output since he took up painting in the mid-1990s at the relatively late age of 33, when his unique mix of the oddly familiar and the slightly illogical became immediately evident. Four years after picking up the brush, Borremans held his first exhibition in Ghent.

From the beginning, Borremans has sought to “create an atmosphere outside of time – a space where time has been cancelled.” Combined with this pervading sense of dread is a blend of drama, wit and the occasional spot of anarchy.

It’s possible to look at the subjects in Borremans’ work like absent actors, or like living objects that have no conscious grip on their circumstances. They’re soulless vessels who exist in a parallel dimension that’s completely outside of their control – a state not unlike the bewildered protagonists in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot. Borremans’ subjects don’t think or decide for themselves; they wait or proceed through actions that define their futility, controlled by an unseen puppetmaster who’s pulling the strings. Intriguingly, we feel a sense of love and affection for these unnamed characters, hovering in the distance. 

Renowned film director David Lynch once said of the artist, “Somewhere in the world of Rembrandt and Hopper, I feel this is where Michaël Borremans’ paintings are conjured. Such a skilled painter he is who creates paintings which are far more than the sum of their parts. There is in his work the magic to make us dream.” Prepare to enter a surreal dream indeed.

Images: David Zwirner; New York/London and Zeno X Gallery; Antwerp

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_Hunting in Autumn_ by Xu Songbo, 2015, 120 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas.JPG

The Thrill of the Hunt: Xu Songbo

1分快三玩法The magnificent oil paintings of Chinese contemporary artist Xu Songbo display an intriguing perspective on Tang Dynasty horsemanship and the hunt

The Thrill of the Hunt: Xu Songbo

The magnificent oil paintings of Chinese contemporary artist Xu Songbo display an intriguing perspective on Tang Dynasty horsemanship and the hunt

Culture > Art

The Thrill of the Hunt

December 22, 2015 / by Valeria Lynn

Violent clashes of warfare fade into the serenity of the flowing pigments in the oil paintings of Xu Songbo’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, Tang Style1分快三玩法. The masterful murals frame the landscape of the idyllic poetic life of ancient China, where hunting was a grand ritual of noble traditions. Portraits of horses give surreal side views, while men on horseback ride with leisurely ease. 

1分快三玩法Tensions between the structures of the paintings emerge in the dynamics of the detailed depiction of each of the objects, from majestic-looking hunters to commanding shikras, and even to the delicately engraved leather saddles. 

A keen equestrian and bowhunting enthusiast, Xu’s interest in Chinese history – especially that of the Tang Dynasty, a period of openness and innovation credited with fostering some of the finest art and poetry in the history of civilisation – led to him becoming an accomplished horseman and archer. 

Of his reverential approach to this historical period in his works, Xu enigmatically explains, “I pursue thickness through thinness.” The artist begins with precise sketches, then adds thin layers of mixed transparent and opaque oil colours to build texture. 

Xu employs an intriguing blend of skills in his visually captivating art. Take a work such as Hunting in Autumn (2015, top right) and you’ll see myriad influences. “I learned to use both Eastern and Western materials, tools, techniques and language, and this combination has had a powerful impact on my painting style today,” he explains. 

1分快三玩法Born in Nanyang, Henan Province in 1971, Xu studied fine arts at Henan University before earning his master’s degree at China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts; he is now a professor at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Xu was also commissioned to paint murals in the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, for which he received a gold medal at the China National Art Exhibition.

As Xu continues to garner acclaim and his prices keep rising at auction, this is certainly one contemporary Chinese artist to keep your eye on. Tang Style runs at Fabrik Contemporary Art Gallery until January 29.

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Isabelle Bresset 4 - © Artcurial (l).jpg

Artcurial: Isabelle Bresset

The inaugural Artcurial auction in Hong Kong raised an impressive HK$63 million over two days, with a rare Tintin drawing by Hergé selling for 1.1 million euros. Isabelle Bresset of Artcurial shares the French auction house’s vision in the region

Artcurial: Isabelle Bresset

1分快三玩法The inaugural Artcurial auction in Hong Kong raised an impressive HK$63 million over two days, with a rare Tintin drawing by Hergé selling for 1.1 million euros. Isabelle Bresset of Artcurial shares the French auction house’s vision in the region

Culture > Art


November 20, 2015 / by Selena Li

The inaugural Artcurial auction in Hong Kong raised an impressive HK$63 million over two days, with a rare Tintin drawing by Hergé selling for 1.1 million euros. Isabelle Bresset of Artcurial shares the French auction house’s vision in the region.

Which lots surprised you the most during the two-day inaugural sale in Hong Kong?

1分快三玩法European works of art and comics did extremely well, in many cases surpassing the estimates. Just to take one example, all the works by Bernard Buffet, one of the most famous and prolific French painters of the mid-20th century, realised very strong prices. The sale brought in more than €7 million, which is exactly what we expected.

You mentioned in a previous interview that “every auction is an adventure”. Can you tell us about the excitement and the risk you face in today’s auction market?

To bring European works of art to Hong Kong was a parti pris – a conscious decision, as I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of a Parisian interior that mixes works of art, furniture and paintings. Of course, it was risky, as collectors in Hong Kong are not used to this type of sale. 

Most auctions in Hong Kong include Chinese ceramics and porcelain, Asian contemporary art, contemporary ink, jewellery, watches and wine. So we were different. And of course, a first sale is always exciting – but also very scary.

What were the criteria of the selection? Was there special consideration for Asian collectors?

1分快三玩法The sale was a tailor-made selection. It’s exactly like when you prepare a meal for your friends. You try to figure out what kind of food they like, but you also try to surprise them with special dishes with new flavours you hope they will enjoy.

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Bernard Buffet (1928–1999); Le Cri (1970); Oil on canvas; signed and dated lower right

Bernard Buffet (1928–1999); Le Cri (1970); Oil on canvas; signed and dated lower right

The 18th-century gold boxes and the jewel-like agate and gold clock by James Cox included in the sale were created by the most renowned craftsmen of that time. Since Asian collectors are very active in Paris for these kinds of works, we felt it was important to bring this rare and exquisite collection here to Hong Kong. Artcurial has been a pioneer in developing comics as an art field. Last year, we sold an original ink by Hergé for the record price of €2.5 million to an Asian collector. 

How many auctions has Artcurial held in 2015 and what percentage have been dedicated to Asian clients?

From January up to now, Artcurial have organised 46 auctions; we have another 50 planned before the end of the year – more than two sales a week in 2015! Our auctions are open to the public and there are no specific auctions organised for Asian, European or American collectors. Nevertheless, we hold Asian art sales twice a year, in which bidders from Asia account for more than 80% of the buyers.

Hergé (Georges Remi) (1907–1983); The Blue Lotus (1936); India ink and white gouache on paper

Hergé (Georges Remi) (1907–1983); The Blue Lotus (1936); India ink and white gouache on paper

Hong Kong has long been the gateway for international auction houses to access China. Li Jiayi has joined Artcurial as your Beijing representative. What will the dynamics be between the two cities – and their roles in Artcurial’s China strategy?

Li Jiayi joined Artcurial to facilitate the access to Artcurial for some Asian clients. With this first Hong Kong auction, we’re now raising our profile in the region. Artcurial has opened several representative offices abroad – Milan, Brussels, Vienna, Munich, Tel Aviv – but our auctions are only held in Paris, Monaco and Hong Kong. We don't plan to organise sales in Beijing and Hong Kong will remain our regional hub.

What can you tell us about Hong Kong’s secondary market today? 

1分快三玩法The Hong Kong art market is more mature now. Since 2011, when sales reached a peak, the market has become more predictable. It’s reflecting the general trends worldwide, even if demand is more focused on Asian art than anywhere else. 

As a French auction house, what’s the Parisian spirit of Artcurial?

Artcurial is selling in traditional art fields such as paintings by the old masters, 18th-century furniture, impressionist and modern art, and contemporary art. It also has been successful in lifestyle sectors: wine, vintage motorcars, jewellery, Hermès bags. The Parisian twist comes from our imposing mansion – located on the Champs-Élysées – and the spirit of our team.

Hergé, Le Lotus Bleu, courtesy Artcurial©Hergé  Moulinsart 2015/ all other images: ©Artcurial

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Citizen of the World: Justin Charles Hoover

US-based artist and curator Justin Charles Hoover works in the unique medium of time-based art. His cultural heritage – Russian, Chinese and self-described “American Anglo-Saxon mutt” – provides the canvas for videos, installations and curatorial artworks dealing with multiculturalism. Speaking at the sidelines of Fields of Abstraction, which he curated at Galerie du Monde in Hong Kong, the artist discusses his cultural roots

Citizen of the World: Justin Charles Hoover

US-based artist and curator Justin Charles Hoover works in the unique medium of time-based art. His cultural heritage – Russian, Chinese and self-described “American Anglo-Saxon mutt” – provides the canvas for videos, installations and curatorial artworks dealing with multiculturalism. Speaking at the sidelines of Fields of Abstraction, which he curated at Galerie du Monde in Hong Kong, the artist discusses his cultural roots

Culture > Art

Citizen of the World

November 20, 2015 / by Valeria Lynn / Photo: Roy Liu

US-based artist and curator Justin Charles Hoover works in the unique medium of time-based art. His cultural heritage – Russian, Chinese and self-described “American Anglo-Saxon mutt” – provides the canvas for videos, installations and curatorial artworks dealing with multiculturalism. Speaking at the sidelines of Fields of Abstraction, which he curated at Galerie du Monde in Hong Kong, the artist discusses his cultural roots.

Do you believe you’re born with your culture or is it more strongly influenced by your family upbringing?

1分快三玩法My mother is three-quarters Chinese and a quarter Russian; I was born in Taipei and migrated to San Francisco. I grew up in a mixed culture, speaking Russian, Chinese and English, and attending Russian Orthodox Sunday school, while other days I had Chinese tutors. Many people grow up in hybrid cultures and don’t fit any culture entirely. However, I don’t feel like an outcast.

Did you ever find those cultures in conflict with each other?

No, I think they work together and allow me to move in unique ways. My mother is 100% American, but she was also brought up in Taiwan for 30 years. And because her mother was half Russian, they spoke Russian. Culture is something you grow up with. 

How fine is the line between your own artwork and that which you curate?

It depends on the show – I’ve curated many art festivals where crazy things happened, and you can’t tell who’s the artist and who’s the performer. A show called 100 Performances for the Hole, for example, which ran six times. There were 100 artists all doing their work inside a hole that I designed as the performance venue. This was a unique setting because it wasn’t like a theatre with an auditorium. We projected up here, with the stage, and you entered over here. It makes the audience confused about where the artists are coming from – for me, that’s a creative construct.

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How about your own artwork?

You get locked into a style because you can only do red instead of blue. I’m a performer and video artist; I can do whatever I want – a kung fu performance that doesn’t look like kung fu. A lot of my artwork involves transforming traditional Chinese works into an unrecognisable contemporary form. 

Littoral Drift #62 by Meghann Riepenhoff

Littoral Drift #62 by Meghann Riepenhoff

What exactly is “time-based art”? 

1分快三玩法Paintings are frozen in a moment, a sculpture doesn’t change. But time-based art requires the artist to spend time with it as it changes over time. It’s anything that requires more than just a second to acquire.

When a viewer watches the show live and then sees the online recording of the show, do you think there are big differences between the two presentations? 

It depends. Any technique is actually a strategy. I recently did a video in my San Francisco gallery, projected on the wall; with the texture of the bricks, the images appear differently. It resulted in a beautiful Chinese calligraphy video, appearing as ripples cascading down the wall.

Do you see yourself as a tech-savvy artist?

I’m knowledgeable about technical artwork, though I don’t actually write code myself. I don’t write software applications, though I definitely curate many technically difficult exhibitions. I’m part of a generation that understands technical materials. 

What challenges confront you as a curator and as an artist? 

There are many cultural challenges if you contextualise something. What I mean is how you put something into a cultural sphere that people can understand. You can’t simply drop your artwork in the middle of nowhere. You have to build a context. 

You have to understand how to make the art meet the public. So it involves a bigger conversation. The challenge is how you develop the discussion around the question of why it’s important. A curator facilitates the conversation between the public and the artwork and artists. 

What is the essence of art?

Self-expression – it’s like saying something is meaningful to you in a way you haven’t previously experienced. I think it also depends on what the culture is, though, because art isn’t a single culture.

In China, the essence of art is more about repetition; how an artist emulates his master and creates his own work based on that. In the West, the view is that it has to be innovative, to break free from everything. However, I believe there is a middle ground where you can still use traditional structures and innovate on top of them. For me, it’s about having the mix of traditional and contemporary – and seeing where that takes you.

Bloom by Freddy Chandra

Bloom by Freddy Chandra


Courtesy of the artist and Galerie du Monde


Congo Contemporary: 90 Years of African Art

A new exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris puts 90 years of African art in the spotlight

Congo Contemporary: 90 Years of African Art

1分快三玩法A new exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris puts 90 years of African art in the spotlight

Culture > Art

Congo Contemporary

November 20, 2015 by Thibault Levy

1分快三玩法Few places are as imbalanced as the Democratic Republic of Congo – its mineral reserves are the largest on the planet, yet three-quarters of its population live on less than a dollar a day. The government is increasingly cited by human rights groups for its repression of dissent. But oddly, there is a gaiety of spirit and a love of life that, even in the worst of times, leave the more fortunate moved and humbled beyond words.

This extraordinary cultural vitality is honoured in the eye-opening exhibition Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 at the Fondation Cartier until January 10, in which more than 350 works by 41 artists all but bounce off the walls with energy and wit. Such art is scarcely seen in Western museums. 

The exhibition cites the birth of modern painting in the Congo in the 1920s and examines a century of the country’s artistic production. While specifically focusing on canvas, it also includes music, sculpture (Freddy Tsimba sculpts elaborate human bodies out of bullets, spoons or bottlecaps), photographs (luscious black-and-whites of 1950s Leopoldville, now renamed Kinshasa), and comics, providing a unique opportunity to discover the region’s diverse and vibrant art scene. 

Much of this work has been rarely seen. As early as the mid-1920s, when the Congo was still a Belgian colony (colonial rule didn’t end until 1960), precursors such as husband-and-wife painters Albert and Antoinette Lubaki along with artist Djilatendo painted the first-known Congolese works on paper – watercolours, anticipating the development of modern and contemporary art. Their works represented village life, the natural world, dreams and legends with poetry and imagination. It is fantastical and real, and some were shown in museums and galleries in Europe before being lost. 

Following World War II, French painter Pierre Romain-Desfossés moved to the Congo and founded an art workshop called the Atelier du Hangar, where artists such as Bela (who painted with fingertips rather than a brush), Mwenze Kibwanga and Pilipili Mulongoy learned to freely exercise their imagination, creating colourful, enchanting works in their own highly inventive and distinctive styles. 

In the 1950s, photographer Jean Depara captured the nightlife of Leopoldville, a vibrant medley of rumba and cocktail dresses, portrayed in rich silver gelatin prints which only enhance the sense of swing. Twenty years later, the exhibition Art Partout1分快三玩法 in Kinshasa in 1978, revealed the painters Chéri Samba, Chéri Chérin and Moké, as well as other artists still active today. 

1分快三玩法“We wanted to show the broader public exceptional works from a continent where the television only presents dark, disastrous images of war and illness,” says show curator André Magnin. The show itself fills the exhibition space at the foundation, which resides in a glass box designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. 

Several works in the show reference the infamous 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, which had a politically charged subplot. There are popular photos and paintings by Moké, who died in 2001, as well as Cassius Clay1分快三玩法 (2014) by Steve Bandoma, who describes himself as “an artist, not an African artist.” 

Today’s work is no less thrilling; witness Monsengo Shula, cousin of Moké, who describes his work as being Afro-futurist. His Sooner or Later the World Will Change1分快三玩法 (2014) depicts African astronauts in outer space, with an African statue at the centre of their satellite. The astronauts are clad in kaleidoscopic print suits of blue, green, purple, yellow and red, like the most intrepid cosmological tropical fish. 

1分快三玩法Then there’s leading contemporary painter Chéri Samba, a former billboard illustrator and comic-strip artist, who depicts facets of daily life in the Congo using himself as the main subject of his paintings, along with speech bubbles. He’s as much social critic as political dissenter, like many of his ilk.

The freedom, variety, humour, beauty and rich colour palettes of the works on display are uplifting and educational by turns. And while the Congo still brings to mind images of war and conflict, these works conjure another image: that of innovators and trendsetters. The Congo contemporary art moment is at hand, and it’s dazzling.

Ambroise Ngaimoko, Euphorie de deux jeunes gens qui se retrouvent, 1972, Collection of the artist ©Ambroise Ngaimoko, photo ©André Morin; JP Mika, Kiese na kiese, 2014, Pas-Chaudoir Collection, Belgique ©JP Mika, photo ©Antoine de Roux; JP Mika, La SAPE, 2014, Private collection © JP Mika, photo © André Morin; Jean Depara, Untitled (Moziki), c.1955-65, CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva ©Jean Depara, photo ©André Morin; Mode Muntu, Le Calendrier lunaire Luba, 1979, Collection Meir Levy, Bruxelles ©Mode Muntu, photo © Michael De Plaen; Moké, Untitled, (Match Ali-Foreman, Kinshasa), 1974, Private Collection, photo © André Morin; Monsengo Shula, Ata Ndele Mokili Ekobaluka (Tôt ou tard le monde changera), 2014, Private Collection ©Monsengo Shula, Photo ©Florian Kleinefen

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