Asia Week New York
By Bobbie Leigh
For the in-the-know or the inexperienced, Asia Week New York is a marvel: five auction houses and 45 international Asian art galleries transform Manhattan into a once-a-year- showcase for museum-quality exhibitions. “Asia Week New York, now celebrating its seventh anniversary, is more exciting than ever,” says Lark Mason, the 2016 Chairman.
The range of work presented in this Asian art extravaganza is jaw-dropping: painting, sculpture, bronzes, ceramics, jewelry, jade, textiles, prints and photographs from all over Asia. What makes Asia Week New York so special is that the gallery owners and their staffs eagerly engage with visitors. Judging from past years, they try to give visitor detailed information, always keeping in mind that their goal is to educate or at least enhance an understanding of the material. Perhaps Asia Week is the most understated marketing venture you will ever encounter.
For example, it is not unusual for a gallery owner like Beatrice Chang of Dai Ichi Arts (18 East 64) to spend 15 minutes explaining the provenance of an object and giving you the context in which it was made. The generosity of the organizers who appreciate inquisitive visitors is what makes Asia Week New York so special. Chang’s provocative show is “Seductive Beauty: Masterpieces from Japan.” One highlight is a tall stoneware vase created in 2002 by revered master ceramist Suzuki Goro, who is known for his humor and cutting-edge work.
Joan B. Mirviss, LTD (39 East 78th Street) is also featuring contemporary Japanese work. Ann Wadsworth, the gallery administrator, emphasizes that the Western World has not had a lot of exposure to Japanese water jars as a utensil to be collected. “Tea bowls are much more popular,” she says adding that because these water jars are much larger, they give the artist a lot of creativity to play around the form.” Among these truly extraordinary art objects is an 1985 floral-patterned water jar by Ono Hakuko, a woman ceramist know for her mastery of gold leaf on porcelain.
Kapoor Galleries (34 East 67th Street) Sanjay Kapoor, a member of the family-owned gallery specializing in Indian and Himalayan arts, says there is a lot of significance and back history in his gallery’s Asia Week presentation, “Amrita, Nectar of Immortality.” The sculptures in this show have been objects of veneration for centuries. “They were made as objects of devotion and are invested with intense emotional energy,” says Kapoor who is especially interested in helping younger people learn more about “the classical arts.”
Prepare to be dazzled at the Kang Collection Korean Art show (9 East 82nd) “Viewing the Past Through Modern Eyes.” The star attraction here is Ran Hwang’s 2013 large-scale installation, “First Wind-CL.” Imbued with feminist nuances, Hwang has used buttons, pins, and beads on a wooden panel, a tour-de-force with implications about rapid modernization in the 21st century according to the gallery notes.
J.J. Lally & Co (41 East 57th) is a treasure trove of Chinese art, furniture, painting, and ceramics. This year the gallery is featuring a large ancient Chinese jade blade from the Shang Dynasty, around 1300 BC. It’s the centerpiece of the gallery’s “Ancient Chinese Jade: From the Neolithic to the Han.” Jade blades were never used in warfare. Instead, they were precious symbols of power and status, used in court ceremonies and buried in tombs. This Asia Week exhibition goes a long way of explaining why jade has always occupied a special place in Chinese artistic culture.
For details about all the galleries and their masterworks: www.asiaweekny.com.