Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...
London's galleries and museums are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze London and Frieze Masters running between 3 and 6 October 2019 at Regent's Park, along with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place across the same dates at Somerset House; and the tenth anniversary of the Sunday Art Fair, showcasing new and emerging artists...
Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...
With the third edition of Art Basel Hong Kong and the launch of a new satellite fair, March is the busiest month on the city's contemporary art calendar. Here are someof the shows you shouldn't miss: from Encounters at Art Basel. With a new curator–Alexie Glass-Kantor of Artspace in Sydney–at the helm, the selection of large-scale sculptural installations by Joao Vasco Paiva, Xu Longsen, Sterling Ruby and many others will be the talk of the week.
To Yoshitomo Nara's retrospective "Life is Only One" at Asia Society Hong Kong and the new satelite fair Art Central. Launched by ART HK's founders, the new Art Central intrigues with its ambition: more than 75 local and international galleries will showcase emerging and established artists in a 10,000-square-metre purpose-built structure. Sounds like fun.
Yoshitomo Nara is a leading global contemporary artist whose practice first came to the fore in the context of Japan's influential Pop art movement. He is best known for sculptures, drawing, and paintings of cute children and animals that on closer inspection appear menacing. The style of his artwork is often associated with popular culture, from manga and anime to the graphics on music album covers, but it equally engages with Japanese visual traditions and Western Modernism.
Nara was born in 1959 in Hirosaki, a rural town in northern Japan. It was at school taking a figure drawing class that he first became interested in art. From 1979 to 1981, he took art classes at the Musashino Art University. He then went on to study at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagakute, Japan, earning his BFA in 1985 and his MFA in 1987. He subsequently moved to Germany, graduating in 1993 from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and setting up his studio in Köln. After serving as a Guest Professor for a graduate course in painting at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998, Nara returned to Tokyo from Germany in 2000.
It was in Germany that Nara began to craft a visual vocabulary influenced by his fascination with Neo-Expressionism and punk rock. During this time, he also painted his first portraits of the child that has become the most recognisable motif in his practice. The child, who Nara noted in an interview with Ocula, is neither boy nor girl, usually appears a sole figure against a plain background, dressed simply. While the figure's cartoon-like features can give it an innocent and 'cute' appearance, it's action often suggest underlying subversiveness to the child: Nara has painted the figure smoking a cigarette, brandishing a knife or crucifix, sporting vampire fangs, or simply staring directly and insolently at the viewer.
Nara's portraits present a fusion of old and new traditions. The child's facial features—widely spaced eyes, stubby nose, slit mouth—are adopted from traditional Japanese Otafuku and Okame theatrical masks, while the poses are associated with anime and manga, and the overall compositions are reminiscent of Edo period ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The artist's sculptures, which for the most part present the child in three-dimensional form, are often coated in a liquid metal that cracks like the glaze on Song dynasty Chinese ceramics.
In 2001, Nara's figures achieved global acclaim and recognition with I Don't Mind, If You Forget Me, his first solo exhibition in a public museum, co-organised by the Yokohama Museum of Art, Ashiya city Museum Of Art & History, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art, and Hirosaki's Yoshii Brick Brewhouse. This exhibition galvanised the artist's large fan following and also attracted critical attention from the art world. Around this time the artist came to be loosely associated with an avantgarde group of Japanese artists who gathered together under a newly coined art term: superflat. Other superflat artists include Takashi Murakami and Chiho Aoshima. Superflat came to be associated with the use of bright colours, patterns, Japanese cartoon motifs, and a critique of the country's hyper-consumerist culture. However, Nara has always distanced his work from political or moral purpose, noting it remains first and foremost an expression of his inner feelings.
In 2010, the Asia Society Museum presented Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool, the first major New York exhibition of Nara's work, featuring more than 100 pieces, ranging from his early career in the 1980s to his most recent paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and large-scale installations. The Museum of Modern Art acquired a number of the artist's artworks and now holds over 130 of his pieces in its collection. In 2011, deeply affected by the Fukushima earthquake and its aftermath, the artist found himself temporarily unable to work. He subsequently did return to work, and in 2016 the Asia Society recognised the artist by awarding him one of three prestigious Asia Arts Game Changer awards. On the occasion of receiving this award, Nara spoke to Ocula Magazine about his work and the award, noting that 'I know the general public like me but I was always unsure if professionals in the art world appreciate what I do.'
Since 2005, Nara has been based in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan, where he feels that, isolated away from urban life, he is better able to focus on his practice.
Born in Heilongjiang province, China in 1976, Gao Weigang graduated from the Tianjing Academy of Fine Arts, where he majored in oil painting. Currently, he lives and works in Beijing.
An intensely versatile artist whose works employ a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation and performance, Gao Weigang evades categorization of his artworks into a particular genre. His language makes each piece both the apparatus and the product of experiment, transforming objects so they break through the audience’s natural and ideological perceptions of the material world. Gao’s creations are also personal: they are milestones in the artist’s quest of self-reflection and a constant reexamination of himself. Despite the many artistic forms and materials Gao Weigang adopts and the great aesthetic variations throughout his works, they all reflect his intention to challenge the viewer’s accustomed visual culture with a sense of humor and an overriding hint of skepticism. Whether it is painting, sculpture or installation, the artist manages to retain a strong sense of medium-specificity, prompting questions to the audiences to rethink about how accurate their common knowledge and perception is.
Gao has widely exhibited across mainland China as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and New York City. His works have been collected by many art institutions and foundations such as the Burger Collection in Switzerland, the DSL Collection in Paris, Long Museum in Shanghai, White Rabbit Collection in Sydney, Yuz Museum in Jakarta, and the Louis Vuitton Group in Hong Kong, etc. Gao Weigang won Art HK 2011’s Art Futures award in recognition of his artistry and the originality of his work.
Art Central is going to be a more edgy event; it’s going to be more unpredictable in the sense that there are galleries here that people have not seen before, but there are a lot of galleries that people will know because it’s quite a Hong Kong, Asian entered fair. But essentially I think the difference is that Art Basel is a very...
Alexie Glass-Kantor recently took the helm at Artspace, Sydney with her appointment as its Executive Director. One of Australia’s most highly regarded independent cultural centres, Artspace is involved in publishing, public programming, and in-house residencies. Previously Glass-Kantor was the Director and Senior Curator of Gertrude...
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.