Contemporary Asian Art Exhibition Includes Takashi Murakami

If you’re a fan of contemporary asian arts, you’ll definitely want to check this out! Waddington’s first-selling exhibition (May 1 to 11, 2014) features an impressive collection of 43 works by 13 artists, including works by Japanese artists Takashi Murakami, Tomio Miki, Enokura Koji and Nobuo Sekine. There are 21 Murakami lithographs from 2011 to 2013 in the collection. The exhibition will also include works by United Nations recognized, and internationally acclaimed, artist William Ho, as well as emerging Chinese artists.

Waddington’s recently created Contemporary Asian Art department is headed by Janfer Chung, a specialist this genre who has worked with top contemporary galleries in Hong Kong and China. I had the opportunity to ask her about this exciting exhibition.

There’s been such an explosion of interest in Asian contemporary arts, why do you think that is?

JC: There are several reasons!

  1. Internationally-recognized Art Fairs such as Art Basel, Hong Kong in May (previously the Hong Kong Art Fair), Art Taipei, and Art Stage Singapore have all been hugely successful – creating international exposure for contemporary Asian art.
  2. International galleries have started to represent contemporary Asian artists.
  3. International auction houses have also started to present these works (including now Canadian auction house Waddington’s, Toronto – which is very exciting!)
  4. Major museums around the world are showcasing contemporary Asian Art, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, MoMA in New York, V&A Museum in London, and the Queensland Art Gallery
  5. Brand name artists like Takashi Murakami, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang, Yayoi Kusama, Ai Weiwei and Zao Wou-Ki are a big part of pop culture.

Can you tell us about particular works of art that you love and the stories behind them?

JC: How can you not love Murakami! The timing couldn’t be better with This Is Not A Toy at Toronto’s Design Exchange guest curated by Pharrell Williams, and the opening of Murakami’s film Jellyfish Eyes across North America. Simple yet compelling, brightly coloured but also dark in theme at times, his images have caught everyone’s attention. We are thrilled to include 21 of his works in this exhibition, my current favourites are theLotus Flower Pink and White, 2010 lithographs, but that’s like trying to decide which is your favourite child – they all are favourites in different ways!

Nobuo Sekine, representative of post-war Japanese art, is another favourite of mine. While not an emerging artist, Sekine and the Mono-ha (School of Things) movement have really only recently been brought to everyone’s attention. I like the strength of his work and how he brings together the natural and the industrial. I think OVAL’S BORDER, created in 1987, is a wonderful contrast to the other works in our current exhibition.

As the Asian contemporary art specialist, what up and coming artists should we keep in our radar?

JC: Right now I am watching several artists, whose work is both intelligent and expressive and gives a voice to modern Asia.

Wu Junyong, Lenthen BMW, 2013, 66 x 49 cm. Photo courtesy of Waddington'sWu Junyong (b.1978)

Wu’s work often references historical Chinese literature, folk art and culture, reinterpreting traditional symbols and motifs as a mean of satire and political commentary. His work is gathering international attention and have been shown worldwide, including the Groninger Museum Netherlands, The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China; The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea.

Ayako Rokkaku (b. 1982)

Ayako Rokkaku, untitled, 2012, 57.5 x 78 cm Photo courtesy of Waddington'sRokkaku’s technique is definitely unique.  I love that she dips her hands into the paint using her just her fingers to create her works.  I admire her free-flowing approach –  no pencil lines or preconceived plan in mind.  It will be interesting to see how her style develops and if she will embrace other techniques.  That’s what is so intriguing with young artists – there’s so much more they can create!

How did you become a specialist in this area?

JC: First of all, I have always been passionate about art. After I graduated in the HKU, I was fortunate to be able to find opportunities in Contemporary Asian Art in Hong Kong and worked hard to build up my knowledge. Working in an auction house like Waddington’s also gives me great exposure to other areas of art. For example, I work in the Asian Art department where we also deal with a broad range of artworks and eras. I also have the opportunity to learn about other areas like Canadian, International and Decorative Arts. It’s great to see so many different art forms alongside each other. Becoming a specialist is about focusing on your area, learning all you can – but also being aware of other areas and how they complement each other.

Janfer Chung, Waddington's

What should people expect when they come to view the collection?

JC: They first thing you’ll notice when you get to Waddington’s is that we are not the average auction house! The selling exhibition is an innovative example of how we are breaking the mold and offering our clients different ways to acquire art. I’m excited to be part of this initiative – we are the only auction house in Canada to deal in Contemporary Asian art on this scale.

As far as the exhibition goes — we worked hard to select works that people can relate to – like the Murakami lithographs, which bring a beautiful energy to the room.  We also wanted to introduce emerging artists to showcase what the future of contemporary Asian art looks like. You’ll notice that we focused specifically on Chinese and Japanese artists for this launch event and that we kept it to a tight number of works; we didn’t want to create an overwhelming experience.  Most importantly, we’d like to hear people’s feedback about the exhibition – so let us know what you think!

Photo courtesy of Waddington's

Waddington’s is Canada’s most diversified provider of auction and appraisal services. They offer live and online auctions of fine art and collectibles.

Waddington’s Auctioneers & Appraisers is located at 275 King Street East, 2nd Floor. For more information visit www.waddingtons.ca

Exhibition  dates: May 1 to May 11, 2014

Gallery Hours

Weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Weekends from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Daisuke Takeya Lecture, May 3, 2:00 pm

William Ho: Ink & Brush Workshop, Sunday, May 4 at 2:00 pm

Thanks to Janfer Chung for talking the time out for our interview!

Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of AZNmodern.com. She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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