Asia Week commenced last week in New York, and galleries across the city opened their doors to celebrate the work of Asian artists with those near and far. Every year people from across the world travel to New York for access to exclusive galleries, artists meet and greets, and specialized events hosted for the purpose of commemorating Asian culture. Provided the globalized nature of our world today, the arts are a crucial juncture of cultural exchange and appreciation, so for a short period of time Asian culture and art are paid their due diligence.
From Japan to China and from Bengal to India, deity sculptures, storytelling tapestries, porcelain vases and jade figurines were put on display for analysis and admiration. I joined the Asia Week New York Press tour hosted by Marilyn White PR, with whom I hopped around Midtown Manhattan joined by my like-minded colleagues to bask in the reflections of Asian art.
The galleries, small and large alike, were nestled on the top floors of inconspicuous buildings, housing some of the world’s most profound and insightful pieces of art I have ever seen. Notably, the gallery size did not diminish the value of its artwork. Selections of revolutionary artistic techniques were employed, stories of historical figures were carved into stone, and cultural symbolisms lived inside the crevices of precious jade.
In one of the galleries we visited, a painting of reverse Chinoiserie caught my eye. The painter depicted his perception of western culture through the use of a woman wadding in the confines of a Chinese palace. With elements borrowed such as wardrobe and household items, the analysis of perspective could go on forever.
I often discover a deep connecting with Buddhist-oriented artwork and a love for the relationship between man and nature, which explains my draw towards a piece in the J.J. Lally & Co. Gallery of Oriental Art. A showcased feature was the displayed head of a prominent figure by the name of Vimalakirti. He was a wealthy layman from the ruling class in ancient India who demonstrated wisdom and a deep understanding of Buddhist doctrine. The story describes a philosophical discussion with Manjusri, the Bodhisttava of Wisdom, during which he shows that the achievement of enlightenment does not depend upon the ordination as a monk and adoption of the monastic life, rather it is attainable by everyone. This interpretation, the indication that a rich man does not need to renounce worldly goods to achieve enlightenment, was very popular in China during the Northern Wei Dynasty.
Another presentation worthy of note was the Lee Ufan: “Ceramics” exhibit at the Pace Gallery, a two-year collaboration with Manufacture de Sevres. The collaborative artwork demonstrates the artists philosophical concerns regarding materiality and existence, as well as an emphasis on the relationship between object and the environment in which it sits.
These abstract and conceptual depictions of wisdom, wealth, and relationship provided a well-rounded view of Asian Art, more specifically of that in China.
It was a comfort to share this passion with other likeminded individuals and to witness first hand, the history and culture behind a vastly undiscovered continent by Western hemisphere standards. Asia Week is a special time of year where the conversation between East and West pursues, and bridging the gap is furthered by way of art and philosophy, rather than the usual suspects: business and economics.
Other galleries visited were:
China 2000 Fine Art
Walter Arader Himalayan Art
Tenzing Asian Art
HK Art & Antiques
Buddhist Art Samina Inc.
Michael C. Hughes
Phoenix Ancient Art
Priestley & Ferraro
FitzGerald Fine Arts,
The Tina Kim Gallery
R.M Chait Galleries
Scholten Japanese Art
Laurence Miller Gallery
Littleton & Hennessy
Dai Ichi Arts