2015年3月27日 星期五

Art Basel 2015. 8


For the ordinary folk of China, India and other less developed countries, the motor cycle has become not only a cheap, fast, flexible and efficient mode of transport in rural areas and sometimes even in the cities. Often, one sees on the internet photos of the most incredible feats by some of their citizens in loading them well above their normal carrying capacities. Here's an example. By copper plating them, they become more than mere street spectacles but objects thought worthy of being displayed as "works of art", a trend which Marcel Duchamp initiated in 1917 when he shocked every one by displaying a urinal on a museum wall as "art", something continued in 1962 by Andy Warhol when, tongue in cheek, he drew giant Campbell soup can label and exhibited it as an "art object".  

Two sheep displayed not as rocking toys in a children's play area in a municipal park, but as "works of art". By overlaying the body of the sheep with what appears to be a smooth plastic coat, is the artist suggesting the excessive domestication/pet-ification of wild animals?

Eyes 2014 in mixed medium on canvas and panel by Wang Huaiqing (黃慶) (b. 1944) founder of "The Contemporaries" art group in 1960s and 1970's Beijng, working on a minimalist style mostly related to the form of Chinese wooden chairs, tables.

Green and White Tablet 1960s oil and collage on canvas by George Chann (1913-1995) a Chinese-American painter working most of his life in Los Angeles who first worked on  cultural paintings of waifs, indigent people and local landscapes and then turned to   calligraphic and individual stroke art and painted an extensive collection of Abstract Expressionistic oils on canvas, as well as watercolor landscapes on rice paper. 

Table dans le jardin 1943-44: oil on paper mounted on canvas by Wilfredo Lam (林飛龍)(1902-1982). According to his biographer Jean-Louis Paudrat, he was born in Cuba, the 8th child of a Cantonese father and a mixed African and Spanish mother, studied at the Escuela Profesional de Pintura y Escultura, Academia de San Alejandro in Havana, got a scholarship to study in Europe at 21 and left for Spain where he intended to stay a short while before moving on to Paris but stayed in Madrid 14 years where he studied the great masters of Spanish painting, Velázquez and Goya but felt drawn to the works of Bosch and Breugel the Elder and discovered surprising correlations between primitve art and European art. Both his wife and son died of TB, something which deeply affected him.
In 1936, he went to Paris and there met his second wife Helena Holze and Picasso who introduced him to Braque, Matisse, Miró, Léger, Eluard, Leiris, Tzara, Kahnweiler and Zervo. Shortly before the Germans arrived, Lam left Paris for Bordeaux and then Marseille, where many of his friends, for the most part Surrealists, had gathered around André Breton in the Villa Air Bel: Pierre Mabille, René Char, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner, Oscar Domínguez, André Masson, Benjamin Péret. In the Villa Air Bel, a meeting place for creativity and experimentation, Lam worked and produced, most notably, a series of ink drawings that set the tone for what would become his signature style of hybrid figures, a vocabulary he would develop more fully during his years in Cuba from 1941 to 1947. 
In 1941, Lam illustrated Breton’s poem Fata Morgana which was censored by the Vichy government. On March 25, Lam and his second wife embarked on the “Capitaine Paul Lemerle” headed for Martinique, in the company of some 300 other artists and intellectuals―André Breton and Claude Lévi-Strauss among them. Upon arrival, the passengers were interred at Trois Îles. It was during this forced passage in Martinique and before leaving for Cuba that Lam and Aimé Césaire met for the first time to become life-long friends.
Newly settled in his native land after almost twenty years, Lam delved deeper into his artistic investigations, finding nourishment for his ideas in the surroundings of his childhood and youth. His sister Eloisa, whom he was closest to, explained to him in much detail the workings of Afro-Cuban rituals and he began attending ritual ceremonies with some of his friends. This contact with Afro-Cuban culture brought new impetus to his art. He painted over one hundred canvases, most notably La Jungla, making the year 1942 his most productive of this period. Over the next few years, a number of exhibitions followed in the United States, at the Institute of Modern Art, Boston, at the MoMA of New York, at the Galerie Pierre Matisse, where La Jungla was presented and created a scandal. In 1946, Lam and Helena traveled to Haiti and attend voodoo ceremonies in the company of Pierre Mabille and André Breton. Talking about his experience in Haiti, Lam said, “It is often assumed that my work took its final form in Haiti, but my stay there, like the trips I made to Venezuela, Colombia or to the Brazilian Mato Grosso only broadened its scope. I could have been a good painter from the School of Paris, but I felt like a snail out of its shell. What really broadened my painting is the presence of African poetry.”
Lam then went on to New York where he renewed contact with Marcel Duchamp and made new acquaintances: Jeanne Reynal, James Johnson Sweeney, Arshile Gorky, John Cage, Roger Wilcox, Mercedes Matter, Ian Hugo, Jesse Fernández, John Cage, Sonia Sekula and Yves Tanguy. By the end of the 1940s, Lam divided his time between Europe, Havana and New York, where they stayed with Pierre and Teeny Matisse as well as Jeanne Reynal. He enjoyed the company of numerous artists: Noguchi, Hare, Motherwell, Pollock, Asger Jorn and the dissident surrealist group CoBrA.
From 1947, Lam’s style began to show new developments: a pronounced presence of esoteric elements and a coupling of the influence of Oceanic art with that of African art. His reputation as an artist had spread internationally. Articles on Lam appeared in prestigious publications and reviews around the world such as VVV, Instead, ArtNews and View, and exhibitions of his work in the United States, Haiti, Cuba, France, Sweden, England, Mexico, Moscow and Prague
After his divorce with his second wife Helena Holzer in 1952 Lam settled in Paris. In 1955, he met the Swedish artist Lou Laurin―the couple would marry in 1960. He won the Grand Prix of the Havana Salon and, in 1958, was named a member of the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Study in Fine Art in Chicago and received numerous awards, most notably the Guggenheim International Award in 1964.
Throughout the 1950s, while maintaining close contact with Cuban art circles, Lam became increasingly involved with European artistic currents, developing close ties with CoBrA artists and the Italian avant-garde. He also joined post-war movements such as “Phases” and the Situationist movement.
In 1954, Lam met the poets Gherasim Luca and Alain Jouffroy. He traveled to Italy, to Albissola, on the initiative of Asger Jorn and Édouard Jaguer who had organized an international meeting of sculpture and ceramics which included as participants: Appel, Baj, Corneille, Dangelo, Fontana, Scanavino and Matta. Encouraged by the art dealer, Carlo Cardazzo, they would transform this little Italian village on the Ligurian coast into a gathering point for artistic experimentation, from the late fifties through to the late sixties.
During the 1960s, Lam’s work reflected a growing interest for engraving. Collaborating with poets and writers, he undertook several important projects in printmaking: large format portfolios, pulled and published in the print studios of Broder, Mathieu and Upiglio, most notably: La terre inquiète by Édouard Glissant (1955), Le voyage de l’arbre by Hubert Juin (1960), Le rempart de brindilles by René Char (1963), Apostroph’Apocalypse by Gherasim Luca (1965), L’Antichambre de la Nature by Alain Jouffroy (1966), Annonciation by Aimé Césaire (1969). His meeting with the master engraver Giorgio Upiglio at his studio Grafica Uno in Milan inaugurated a period of intense creativity that would last all the way up to Lam’s death in 1982.
From 1964, Lam divided his time between Paris and Albissola Mare, in Italy, where he set up a painting studio in his new house. He was close friends with many writers and artists, and his work would be celebrated in many exhibitions and retrospectives around the world.

Trois éléments: oil on canvas c. 1974

Untitled 1973

Sans titre (Untitled) 1967

A very colorful lady

part of a huge rattan installation

Dapunta Hyang (Transmission of Knowledge) 2014-15: mixed media, rattan, waxed strings, stones, embroidieries, fabric, foam, wood and paper by Malaysian artist Zai Kuning who says: "The work is part of my five year research project on Dapunta Hyang, Jayanasa, and my lifelong interest in discovering my own history as a Malay. The Malays have been associated with Islam, so much so that the beliefs of the minority who continue to practice their ancestral beliefs as animsts are denied, and the population is discriminated against. I ledarned about this painfully as I witnessed the struggle of the Orang Laut ("Sea Gypsies") in Batam and Bintan and the disappearance of the Malay ancient opera Mak Yong in Mantang. My interaction with these two groups led to to think about the Melayu world before Islamization, which began with Daputa Hygang Jayanasa, the Malay king who aspired to conquer Southeast Asia. it is said that King Dapunta and his 20,000 men began their conquest in the year 684 to acquire wealth, power and "magic power". Under his leadership, in a journey called Siddhayatra, the Straits of Malacca, the Sunda Straits, the South China Sea, the Java Sea and the Karimata Straits came under his control. This part of Malay history is much forgotten by the Malay people, and remains debatable among scholars" 

To be cont'd