ASIA NOW, a fair dedicated to raising awareness, engagement and ecology, focused on Asia. In its 7th edition, ASIA NOW has attained a state of maturity accelerated by the current global health crisis. As a result, the fair has chosen to embrace the very upheavals impacting our world.Read More
In this edition, Alexandra Fain proposes an alternative vision of the world with a new positioning that upholds its resolute social, societal and ecological engagement. Indeed, the past two years—2020 and 2021—have provoked a lasting crisis, and generated a call for an awakening of consciences.
Thanks to the artists, curators, collectors, public institutions and galleries that have contributed to the 7th edition, ASIA NOW continues to cast an oblique and unconventional gaze upon our world, and to examine that world through alternative prisms.
It is under the particularly stimulating auspices of the anthropologist, Anna L. Tsing, among others, that this edition ofASIA NOW has chosen to position itself under the title of The Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. As such, ASIA NOW embraces new global movements – of both life and thought - that reshuffle the cards of our individual and collective trajectories.
With an awakened perspective, ASIA NOW is pleased to resume its exploration. From a geographic perspective, the fair has expanded its scope to include Western Asia, welcoming for the first time to Paris, artists who live and work in Iran.
Among its 40 participating international, European and French galleries, some of which will show works by artists from the Iranian diaspora, the fair counts seven galleries based in Tehran that will be exhibiting at the fair for the very first time.
From the standpoint of shifting territories, ASIA NOW has invited three curators this year:
From the perspective of artistic practices, greater emphasis is placed this year on ceramics. ASIA NOW will propose a series of meetings, round-tables and hybrid exchanges to highlight and nourish its proposed line of thought under the curatorship of Thanks for Nothing, on the themes of art, the awakening of consciences, and ecology.
As part of the fair's off-site program and for the third consecutive year, L'Asie Maintenant will open on October 21st at the Musée national des arts asiatiques—Guimet with a show of works by the artist Thu-Van Tran curated by Kathy Alliou and an exhibition dedicated to the artist Dodinh Huong, curated by Hervé Mikaeloff.
"The years 2020 and 2021, by settling us in a concept of sustainable crisis and have invited us to become more aware", Alexandra Fain says. "Today we find ourselves facing a state of the world that we opted to confront with a vision devoid of romanticism or nostalgia; we wanted, not to resign ourselves to a situation that may appear hostile, but to espouse and support that which is in fact happening."
Within this transformation, or perhaps revolution, the founder of ASIA NOW has, thanks to a number of decisive encounters, expanded the terrain dedicated to Asian artists to include those who remain on the Asian continent as well as those who have moved elsewhere.
Thus, Tatiana Gecmen Waldeck and Anahita Vessier and, both great lovers of Iran, have canvassed the contemporary Iranian art scene to invite galleries that represent artists who live and work in Iran, to participate this year in ASIA NOW.
"Today, with some 50 contemporary art galleries, Tehran has developed its own robust art market supported by local collectors. But," they add, "let us not forget that Iran boasts a rich cultural heritage and that, just before the 1979 revolution, the Shiraz-Persepolis Arts Festival (1967-1977) had established a solid conceptual base there. Not to mention Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art which houses countless masterpieces.
After having tackled, at length, subjects relating to the Revolution or the war, the new generation of Iranian visual artists is now defined by its introspection, and fully engaged by questions of gender or environmental issues, through practices that touch virtually all mediums... It is a buoyant and vibrant art scene that deserves the attention of the savviest collectors gathered in Paris during ASIA NOW! "
Jean-Marc Decrop, art collector, Asian art specialist and member of this year's artistic committee for the Iranian platform, confirms that assessment.
"Iran is fascinating," Jean-Marc Decrop says, "because it is a civilization with 7,000 years of history, a cultural capital that has produced many great artists. We see growing interest from different parts of the world, namely China or the Persian Gulf, in this new territory where today we find artists who sometimes work with classic value propositions, like reinterpreting Persian miniatures, while others engage in practices that are more conceptual. At the same time, there is a breeding ground for very interesting naive art."
Tehran-based galleries +2 Gallery, Ag Galerie, Aaran Gallery, Azad Art Gallery curated by Leila Varasteh and Vida Zaim, Bavan Gallery, Etemad Gallery and Mohsen Gallery will showcase artists who live and work in Iran, and whose work has rarely been shown to a French or European public.
Nicolas Bourriaud, former director of a number of French public institutions, historian, art critic and independent curator, will propose a separate exhibition under the title of Shun: "The West has radically set itself apart from Asia since the 17th century, by establishing a purely utilitarian relationship with its natural environment. Dissecting atoms or disemboweling the Earth do not fit within the conceptual framework of the Chinese culture steeped in Taoism, which viewed what the European call 'nature' in terms of interactions and regulations. For the West, the whole world is a stage on which (human) culture stands opposite nature, a neutral container. Conversely, Taoism espouses the flow, or the course of things, which sums up the concept of 'Shun.' But what happens to that way of thinking when that nature itself has become the expression of human industry, the reflection of its omnipresence?"
Nicolas Bourriaud has invited the following artists to respond to his query: Hu Xiaoyuan,Haegue Yang, Guan Xiao, Natsuko Uchino, Ko Sin Tung, Ji Hye Yeom, Timur Si Qin.
ASIA NOW 2021 focuses on the state of a world in mutation, as curator Kathy Alliou demon- strates in an exhibition titled Making Worlds Exist. The show brings together eight visual artists, some former students of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and now members of the Asian diaspora.
"The idea," Alliou explains, "is to inhabit the world in a more conscious way, expect- ing neither a utopia nor a happy ending that may not come. Rather, it is more about changing the way we look and perceive what surrounds us, in line with the thinking of the American professor Anna Tsing. For her, alternative systems of value, beauty and economy are capable of emerging from the ruins of capitalism, including in places devastated and cast aside by man. From a visual arts standpoint, this fact is reflected in works by artists who have fully integrated the diversity and complexity of different cultural heritages."
The curator in Kathy Alliou delights in the hybridizations that redefine established notions of tradition and know-how, as seen in the work of artists like Alexis Chrun, Odonchimeg Davaadorj, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, My-Lan Hoang-Thuy, SeulgiLee, Xie Lei, Thu-VanTran and Trevor Yeung.
These are artists who, throughout the fair, demonstrate that they can transcend an overly divisive definition of identity or nationality.
Since its inception in France, ASIA NOW has contributed to bringing to the fore, the work of visual artists who are part of the international art scene. Some have represented their own country at art biennials, namely Shilpa Gupta (ASIA NOW 2020) and Nabuqi (ASIA NOW 2017), both of whom were featured in the exhibition titled "May you live in interesting times" at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Other examples include Jitish Kallat (ASIA NOW 2020) whose work was showcased at the Indian Pavilion, and He Xiangyu (ASIA NOW 2019, 2020) who was shown in the Chinese Pavilion, both at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Remen Chopra W. Van Der Vaart (ASIA NOW 2020), participated in the International Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; and Thu-Van Tran (ASIA NOW 2021) has enjoyed an equally brilliant career.
Manuel Ocampo (ASIA NOW 2020) was in the Philippine Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale and Lee Wan (ASIA NOW 2019) represented the Korean Pavilion for the same edition. Sin Wai Kin (fka Victoria Sin) waspresented during the 58th Venice Biennale.
Year after year, ASIA NOW has pursued its mission of casting a light on emerging artists through galleries that were largely unknown in France, while at the same time welcoming a growing roster of established artists represented by both international and major French galleries.
Works by many artists well-known on the Asian art scene now figure in the collections of major art institutions or museums and in important exhibitions, a reassurance to many buyers and collectors; artists from a lesser-known art scene may also be discovered at ASIA NOW.
This year, the fair has established once again a direct partnership with a local public institution, this time the National Museum of Asian Arts – Guimet, where an exhibition titled L'Asie Maintenant will feature the work of Vietnamese-born artist, Thu-Van Tran, in the museum's magnificent library.
At the Hôtel d'Heidelbach, a selection of works by the Vietnamese-born Huong Dodinh, curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, casts a bright light on an artist whose oeuvre remains largely unknown despite an artistic practice that spans over fifty years.
More so than in previous years, ASIA NOW has broadened its geographic reach to cover West Asia, an expansion that is in line with the message of the fair's director, Alexandra Fain.
"Faced with what we have just lived through and continue to experience, it is clear that each one of us is in search of greater meaning and of an organic, intuitive connection to the world. In the context of an art salon, the issue can no longer be one of pure 'acquisition positioning,' but rather of a much more collectively-minded feeling. At Asia Now, we seek to understand how to play this new role, without being nostalgic or apocalyptic, but with a positive pragmatism. Already, we feel that the world will ask of us, once again, to be less far apart, to return to the earth, to revive our sense of touch, and to feel alive again..."