Friday, July 24, 2015

"28 Chinese" at Asian Art Museum, San Francisco


DSCN4620 _ Asian Art Museum

Courtesy of Rubell Collection from Miami, 28 Chinese Exhibition at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco showcases a sample of 28 contemporary Chinese artists' diverse artistic pursuits, including abstract, computer planned, re-purposed ancient artifacts, installations, and figurative oil painting pieces.

Due to the nature of the sampling, the exhibit was a bit unfocused and that caused certain difficulty for visitors to assess each artist's achievement in depth but each piece could speak for itself independent from its creator's artistic arc.

The first piece I saw were a group of massive chairs, made of demolished viaducts - the ancient woods eloquently told stories of a people hard of luck yet resilient and never broken.

DSCN4623 _ 28 Chinese - The Man on the Chair, 2008-09, Xiangyu HE, Asian Art Museum
The Man on the Chair, 2008-09, Xiangyu HE

Next, I saw a painting, cheekily titled Comrade your temperature is back to normal, but the almost geometrical impasto patterns gave this painting a modern look and rescued it from 1960s-70s propaganda work, somewhat.  I didn't find the humor of the piece that amusing. It was a sad and mostly inauthentic time and presenting that era in a tongue-in-cheek way somewhat make light of the heaviness of the cultural and political sediments of the time.

DSCN4627 _ 28 Chinese - Comrade your temperature is back to normal, 2005, Songsong LI, Asian Art Museum
Comrade your temperature is back to normal, 2005, Songsong LI

DSCN4628 _ 28 Chinese - Comrade your temperature is back to normal, 2005, Songsong LI, Asian Art Museum
Comrade your temperature is back to normal, 2005, Songson LI

For a better appraisal of boxed-in life in China, Enli Zhang's Container 2 worked much better. Life was never a box of chocolate but a container of most crude sort, reminiscent of a casket.

DSCN4629 _ 28 Chinese - Container 2, 2006, Enli ZHANG, Asian Art Museum
Container 2, 2006, Enli ZHANG

DSCN4630 _ 28 Chinese - Container 2, 2006, Enli ZHANG, Asian Art Museum
Container 2, 2006, Enli ZHANG

Then some abstract works which pleased the eyes with their intricate patterns but I didn't try to divine any depth of these works:

DSCN4633 _ 28 Chinese - Black and White Summer Palace - Black, 2007, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
Black and White Summer Palace - Black, 2007, Jinshi ZHU

DSCN4634 _ 28 Chinese - Black and White Summer Palace - Black, 2007, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
Black and White Summer Palace - Black, 2007, Jinshi ZHU

DSCN4637 _ 28 Chinese - 130905, 2013, Guangle WANG, Asian Art Museum DSCN4639 _ 28 Chinese - 130905, 2013, Guangle WANG, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4638 _ 28 Chinese - 130905, 2013, Guangle Wang, Asian Art Museum
130905, 2013, Guangle WANG

Next was a large piece, Liberation No. 1, which was designed by the artist aided with computer, and painted by artist's assistants resulting in an orderly explosion of colors and the intricacy of the patterns was quite intoxicating.

DSCN4636 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1, 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum
Liberation No. 1, 2013, Wei LIU

DSCN4641 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1, 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4646 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1 (detail), 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4643 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1 (detail), 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4644 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1 (detail), 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4647 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1 (detail), 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4642 _ 28 Chinese - Liberation No. 1, 2013, Wei LIU, Asian Art Museum
Liberation No. 1, 2013, Wei LIU

In the lobby, sandwiched between two wings of exhibition rooms, there were some installations. One was three huge vases, titled, Well, and each of those vases contained an animal.  Didn't bother to figure out what it meant. 

DSCN4655 _ 28 Chinese - Well, 2007, Yong Ping HUANG, Asian Art Museum
Well, 2007, Yong Ping HUANG

DSCN4654 _ 28 Chinese - Well, 2007, Yong Ping HUANG, Asian Art Museum
Well, 2007, Yong Ping HUANG

DSCN4656 _ 28 Chinese - Well, 2007, Yong HUANG, Asian Art Museum
Well, 2007, Yong Ping HUANG

The next was the most exciting work in the show - a huge installation titled Boat and its purity, delicacy, scope and sensual form created a symphonic poem in the minimalist vein.

DSCN4650 _ 28 Chinese - Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU

DSCN4668 _ 28 Chinese - Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4683 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4681 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4648 _ 28 Chinese - Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4673 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4669 _ 28 Chinese - Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4671 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
DSCN4672 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4659 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
DSCN4658 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum DSCN4657 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4660 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum



DSCN4664 _ 28 Chinese - Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum
Boat, 2012, Jinshi ZHU

Next three rooms mostly featured some oddities, such as a huge rubbing imprint from stelae of calligraphy inscriptions in various styles, broadcasting contradictory political slogans or policies, from various epochs of Chinese history.

DSCN4680 _ 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum

Other things I recorded including a large-scaled, fanciful weaving piece, a strange video featuring a woman as a cello, and some Coca-Cola bottles in a case, next to its companion case holding toxic wasted from melted down Coca-Cola bottles:

DSCN4674 _ 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4676 _ 28 Chinese - Boat (detail), 2012, Jinshi ZHU, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4686 _ 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum

DSCN4687 _ 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum DSCN4689 _ 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Homeric Epic Noval "Oedipus on the Road" by Henry Bauchau

Oedipus on the RoadOedipus on the Road by Henry Bauchau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This relatively short novel by Henry Bauchau, translated to English by Anne-Marie Glasheen from French, Oedipus sur la route, traces the eventful journey of the exiled Oedipe and his devoted daughter Antigone, from Thebes to Athens - a journey was as perilous as fantastic and marvelous, filled with discoveries of the past, present, the future, of other people and themselves.

This book is not a historical novel or a pictorial travelogue; rather, it is a journey of larger-than-life characters and their companions at different stages of their journey, full of wonder, discovery and quest, both externally and internally, and much more than a simple deconstruction of a well-known myth. These characters, in search of truth and destiny, struggled against themselves and the elements, and after much suffering and misery, through unyielding determination and mutual love, arrived at their unknown destinies and achieved eternity, while fulfilling their unknown mysterious duties destined for them, gradually revealed in the course of their self-discoveries and their growths, as human beings, and incredibly, but amazingly, as artists.

The language of the book, including dialogues and inner thoughts of characters from all social extractions, are formal, elegant and often wise; yet I willingly and easily surrendered myself to such artistic decision.

Reading their adventures, I felt very privileged to be allowed to accompany them on their winding paths and I have never felt so sad when their journey came to an end, for I have fallen in love even more with the stubborn and unpredictable Oedipus and the timid yet courageous Antigone, two classical characters always close to my heart.

A marvel of an epic in the Homeric fashion.


View all my reviews


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Favorite Paintings in Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia

The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore on the same-named island provided the most romantic view from Piazza di San Marco on the main island of Venice, with the its bell tower, echoing that in the center of the Piazza.

Beside being a focal point and a commanding place to view the teeming Piazza di San Marco, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore also boasted some wonderful paintings.

My favorite painting was the vast Last Supper in the presbytery by the great Jacopo Tintoretto, which placed Jesus in the middle of darkness, whose mysterious halo mirrored the suspended lamp above, with the flaming in the shape the holy ghost.

On the left side of the painting, the people were better illuminated and they were sedated, quiet and dignified, while the people to the right were more shrouded in the darkness, and their postures were much more animated, dynamic and uncertain. Perhaps, due to age, the painting was quite murky but that added a foreboding atmosphere to this larger-than-life painting.

DSCN0357 _ San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, 11 October
Last Supper by the great Jacopo Tintoretto

DSCN0357_m _ Last Supper, Jacopo Tintoretto, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, 11 October - 500

My second favorite was The Fall of Manna by the same artist.  The painting, mounted at the opposite side of the aisle, made a perfect companion piece to The Last Supper, even if not necessarily by design.

This large painting depicted the legend in a rather idyllic setting and atmosphere, an Arcadia, with people in classical costumes and poses, in exceeding dignity, collected Manna in a measured way. The coloration was more vivid, comparing the Last Supper, and the outdoor setting allowed the artist to give us a lovely landscape.  The painting might not be accurate but it was a wonderful work. 

DSCN0356 _ San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, 11 October
The Fall of Manna by the great Jacopo Tintoretto

DSCN0356_m _ The Fall of Manna, Jacopo Tintoretto, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, 11 October - 500


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 103: To be continued
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 101: My Favorite Sculpture at Punta della Dogana

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Favorite Sculpture at Punta della Dogana

When I visited Venice for the second time, I spent some time at the slightly flooded Punta della Dogana to admire some sculptures on the plaza.

One of my favorite, “Boy With Frog,” by Charles Ray, has since been unfortunately removed, due to locals' demand of the return to the spot of a "romantic" lamppost.

DSCN2728 _ Statue at the tip of Fondamenta Salute, Venezia, 15 October - modified

Without that amazing and controversial work, which would be my most favorite, I move on to cite other two sculptures as my favorites. The first one was a 2010 metaphoric one titled Vater Staat (Father State) by Thomas Schütte. It presented a wizened and stiffly upright man in a humble monkish habit and a boxy brimless hat, a figure was simultaneously self-effacing, dignified, and somewhat pompous and ridiculous, ever so slightly.  It was a perfect personification of such strange concept.

DSCN2734 _ Vater Staat by Thomas Schütte, 2010, in front of Basilica Salute, Venezia
Vater Staat by Thomas Schütte, 2010, in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

The second favorite of mine was a group sculpture of Atlas, symbolizing the might of the fabled Republic of Venice. The golden ball was held up by two giants, or two slaves as some claimed, and upon which stood a 17th-century Fortune, which turned in the sea wind - a perfect documentary of the fantastical seafaring power.

DSCN2449 _ Dogana, Venezia, 14 October
Two giants supporting Atlans, upon with stands Fortune

My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 102: To be continued
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 100: My Favorite Artworks at Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Favorite Artworks at Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venezia, though so-called a minor cathedral, due to its strategic location near the tip of Punta della Dogana, visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the Grand Canal, was a natural stop for many visitors to the city. Its interior was relatively sparse, understated and unassuming, but that it didn't prevent Salute from accumulating some muted splendors.

Amongst several interesting and moving works, I cite these two as my favorites (below).

The one left me the strongest impression was an altar to Virgin Mary - centering on a brilliantly-painted ikon, a Byzantine Madonna and Child of the 12th or 13th century, known as Panagia Mesopantitissa in Greek ("Madonna the mediator" or "Madonna the negotiator"), framed by flowing baroque sculpture of the Queen of Heaven Expelling the Plague (1670), which was a theatrical Baroque masterpiece created by the Flemish sculptor Josse de Corte.  The colored painting and the bleached sculpture, the stiffness of the icon and the soft sensual line of the stone figures contrasted strongly and a sense of unexpected and fascinating surprise.

DSCN2781 _ Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia, 15 October

DSCN2781 _ Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia, 15 October

My second favorite was a painting by Titian, titled The Descent of the Holy Ghost. For modern eyes, his tableau might not be so ground-breaking; but at the time of its creation and aided with more vivid colors, the large altar piece must be breathtakingly impressive - the classical triangle composition, the seamless transition from the built columns to the painted arch, and finally the blindingly dizzying holy spirit crashing down from heaven, must be truly awe inspiring.

DSCN2771 _ Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venezia, 15 October


My Favorite Museum Collection Series
>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 101: My Favorite Sculpture at Punta della Dogana
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 99: My Favorite Artwork at Piazza di San Marco

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- Basilica di San Petronio and San Domenico in Bologna
- My Favorite Art Works at Santa Maria Novella, Firenze