Exhibition: Japanese Bamboo Art – The Abbey Collection

Exhibition dates: 13 June 2017 – 4 February 2018

Featuring works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present the period when basketry in Japan became recognised as an art form that transcends ‘craft’ this loan exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation ‘Living National Treasure’. Highlighting key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, the exhibition is drawn from the Abbey Collection, one of the finest private collections of Japanese baskets and bamboo sculpture; most of the works have never before been presented in public.

More than 70 of these remarkable objects promised gifts to The Metropolitan Museum from long-time New York residents Diane and Arthur Abbey will become part of the museum’s collection, bringing added depth to its already incomparable holdings in Asian art and allowing the museum to tell the modern history of Japanese basketry from the 1880s through the present. Complementing the bamboo works from the Abbey Collection is a lavish selection of hanging scroll and screen paintings and decorative arts, all from The Met’s holdings, that explores the bamboo motif along with related themes such as ikebana (flower arranging) and the tea ceremony.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

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Exhibition: The Box Project – Uncommon Threads

box-project-uncommon-threadsExhibition dates: 11 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

This dazzling exhibition, currently on display in Los Angeles, features commissions by three dozen acclaimed international artists including Richard Tuttle, Cynthia Schira, Helena Hernmarck, James Bassler, Gyöngy Laky, Gerhardt Knodel, Sherri Smith, N. Dash, Lewis Knauss, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Kiyomi Iwata, Nancy Koenigsberg and John Garrett. It showcases these skilled artists’ ingenious use – and often expansive definitions –  of fibre, while exploring the collector/artist relationship.

The commissioned works come from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection.

For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibition: The Tales we Tell – Indian Warli Painting

V&A - Indian Warli Painting

Exhibition dates: open until 6 November 2016

This exhibition presents a rare insight into Warli, a tribal art form from Western India. Drawing on a store of tribal memory, myths and everyday life, it has evolved from restricted ritual drawings into an applied art in the process of transition. Focusing on the innovative style of Jivya Soma Mashe, who opened up the traditions of Warli to a new iconography, and his follower Ramesh Hengadi, who has developed his own distinctive style in response to changes in community life, and a shift in local markets and global economies.

Also featuring a film by artist, Johnny Magee, reflecting on Mashe’s practice and daily life. An installation created through a pictorial exchange between pupils at Redlands Primary School, Tower Hamlets, and a village school in Dahanu, Thane. The children use the accessible narrative language of Warli to tell each other stories about their respective lives.

The Tales we Tell: Indian Warli Painting is part of the V&A India Festival.

For more information, visit the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Exhibition: Losing the Compass

White Cube - Losing the Compass

Exhibition dates: 8 October 2015 – 9 January 2016

The White Cube is pleased to present ‘Losing the Compass’, a group exhibition curated by Scott Cameron Weaver and Mathieu Paris at Mason’s Yard. This exhibition focuses on the rich symbolism of textiles and their political, social and aesthetic significance through art and craft practice. Beginning with the metaphorically charged conceptual work of Alighiero e Boetti, ‘Losing the Compass’ traces the poetic and subversive use of the textile medium through works by Mona Hatoum, Mike Kelley, Sergej Jensen, Sterling Ruby, Rudolf Stingel, Danh Vo and Franz West, wallpaper by nineteenth-century English designer, craftsman and socialist William Morris and a series of quilts made collectively by the Amish and Gee’s Bend communities in the USA during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Contesting traditional notions of authorship, Alighiero e Boetti’s work points to hidden boundaries, whether aesthetic, geographic, economic or political, between the so-called ‘East’ and ‘West’. Working collaboratively with diverse groups from across the globe, and particularly with communities of Afghan women embroiderers, Boetti’s sculptures conflate notions of art and craft and individual expression with that of anonymous production. A selection of canvas embroideries mounted on board from the late 1970s and embroideries from both the 1980s and 1990s spell out phrases such as ‘Il Silenzio è D’oro’, ‘A braccia conserte’ or ‘Perdere la Bussola’, from which the exhibition takes its name, across a grid of colourful squares, combining the political, democratic and rigorous elements of Arte Povera with a dichotomy of order and disorder central to Boetti’s oeuvre.

For more information, visit the website of the White Cube Gallery, London.

News: Director of the Savitsky Museum Fraudulently Ejected

Savitsky Museum - Marinika Babanazarova

On the 4th September the Savitsky Museum will be celebrating the centenary of the birth of Igor Savitsky, a Ukrainian artist who in his younger years assembled a major collection of Qaraqalpaq embroideries and yurt decorations and went on to rescue a vast number of threatened avant-garde paintings from the Soviet authorities. The museum that he founded – the Qaraqalpaq State Museum of Art – is one of the highlights of a visit to Qaraqalpaqstan in far western Uzbekistan. Foreign ambassadors, museum supporters and local dignitaries have been invited to the Museum’s centenary celebrations.

It was therefore something of a bombshell to receive news last Monday that Marinika Babanazarova, the Director of the Savitsky Museum, had been summarily sacked. The granddaughter of the first President of Qaraqalpaqstan, Marinika had been personally chosen by Savitsky to be his successor. For the past 35 years she has devoted her life to promoting, developing and defending the museum. However, as the international fame of the museum increased, intense jealousies were fired among the museum establishment in Tashkent.

Savitsky Museum - Qaraqalpaq Textile

A Qaraqalpaq shalma kergi storage bag on display at the museum

It is hard to understand the murky world of Uzbek politics, but it appears that someone in authority has decided to kick her out. Museum auditors were dispatched from Tashkent to check the Savitsky art collection for fakes using an ultraviolet light. They decided that some were forgeries and Marinika has been accused of selling the originals, using the Friends of Nukus Museum to take them out of the country. The whole scam would be laughable, were it not so tragic. As we know from many past visits, security at the museum is intense, with pairs of Uzbek policemen guarding every entrance, curators placing seals on every door at closure, and the director having no direct access to the collection herself. The accusations are despicable. Marinika is a woman of the utmost integrity.

For the past week we have been sending information to the BBC, Channel 4, the Guardian, the UK ambassador in Uzbekistan, the US and other European embassies in the UK and many other contacts with an interest in Central Asia and its textiles. You can read some of the responses on the following webpages:

David and Sue Richardson
Monday 31 August 2015

Event: Tribal Art London

Tribal Art London

 

Event dates: 2 – 5 September 2015

London’s most distinctive art fair, Tribal Art London, reveals the exciting artistry and cultural iconography of tribal peoples the world over. Discover African dance masks, Aboriginal battle shields, decorative house carvings from Papua New Guinea, jewellery and adornment, textiles, rare ethnographic photographs and contemporary works. Get an insight into mystical figures created to give power and protection, ritualistic headwear worn by dancing warriors, beadwork crowns and feather capes worn by chieftans from South America to southern Africa. Works for sale also hail from India, China, Tibet, Southeast Asia and Northern Europe.

The current ‘Indigenous Australia’ exhibition at the British Museum has provoked a huge interest in Aboriginal works recently, and values are rocketing. Tribal works are highly sought-after by contemporary and modern art collectors and interior decorators, as they complement many types of abstract art so well, and artists have long been inspired by tribal forms. All the artefacts offered by exhibitors are early pieces, made for purpose.

Items on sale at this year’s fair will include:
– an early twentieth-century ceremonial dance skirt from the Admiralty Islands of Papua New Guinea, made of small snail shell beads
– a ‘coiffured’ carved wooden headdress worn only by women of the Sande Society, Mende peoples (Sierra Leone & Liberia)
– a rare pair of Nigerian Yoruba Ibeji figures representing twins, which were seen as a blessing and the harbingers of luck and good fortune
– a fine chieftan’s stool from the Cook Islands, South Pacific dating to the early nineteenth century carved from a single piece of wood
– Aboriginal ‘churinga’ or message board carved with mythological symbols using stone, shell or possum teeth tools

Tribal Art London is the UK’s only specialist event for collectors of fine ethnographic works, and OATG member Joss Graham will be one of the exhibitors at the event this year, with a wide range of textiles for sale.

For more information, visit the Tribal Art London website.

Exhibition: China Through the Looking Glass

Met Museum - China Through the Looking Glass

Exhibition dates: until 7 September 2015

This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fuelled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between the Met Museum’s Costume Institute and Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery.

From the earliest period of European contact with China in the sixteenth century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia and make-believe. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.

The exhibition features more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art. Filmic representations of China are incorporated throughout to reveal how our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and also to recognise the importance of cinema as a medium through which to understand the richness of Chinese history.

There are still three weeks left in which to visit this exhibition, so if you’re nearby, try to see it!

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.