More comprehensive than an art fair, Asia Week New York 2013 opened in New York last Friday with a fun fete at the Guggenheim Museum. But what is Asia Week you ask? It’s a week-long event of top-tier exhibitions, auctions, lectures, special events and parties hosted by 43 Asian galleries and visiting dealers from Japan to Europe, 5 auction houses including Sotheby’s and Christie’s and 17 museums and cultural institutions from around the area.
It’s truly a celebration of the rarest and finest examples of Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian, Japanese and Korean art assembled in Manhattan. Collectors, interior designers and other enthusiasts from around the world descend on the city to preview sublime pieces of porcelain, jewelry, textiles, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, bronzes, jades, photography and prints.
If you read my blog, you know I love weaving Asian arts into my interiors, particularly when they have a modern aesthetic (clean lines, uniformity of color, unfussy decor). Below is a curated peek at 9 favorites that have the characteristics outlined above that I found during my daylong preview of the galleries last week. (Note: For those with a more of traditional palate, there are A LOT of remarkable and beautiful pieces to admire as well. Asia Week is far from being a modern art event).
Nicholas Grindley, U.K. (Chinese art)
Is exhibiting a small and delectable group of Chinese scholar accouterments. My eye drew me to a magnificent scholar’s rock, objects collected in China for their abstract shapes and forms for over 1000 years. One became a scholar by passing a government exam which allowed one, if you passed, to spend your time painting, writing poetry and in general, adding sophistication to society. A true scholar would, like a hermit, live surrounded by nature. But as this was more complicated than practical, a scholar brought the outside in as part of getting in touch with nature. Funny how the Chinese adopted abstract art centuries before the West caught on!
Santos, London (Chinese Porcelain)
This Qing Dynasty 18th-century porcelain bowl is sooo sexy. The ox-blood glaze is seductive and the shaping of the bowl, with its flaring rounded sides and a gently tapered foot base, makes for an object that is both unfussy and easy to live with.
Carlton Rochell Asian Art, New York (Indian and Southeast Asian Art)
This is a wonderful group of jade and enamel dagger hilts from the Mughal Court in India. The way they’re mounted make them look like they’re floating and would make for an awesome garniture over a simple mantelpiece.
Chinese Porcelain Company, New York (Asian and European Decorative Arts)
This limestone Buddha of the Qi-Dynasty (550-577) oozes modernity. The lines are simple and the fact it’s headless, well, that just makes it secular and therefore more desirable to a wider crowd.
China 2000 Fine Art, New York and Beijing (Chinese Art)
A wicked pair of 19th century elm chairs that are different and fun. While Europe was enthralled in the Victorian age of frills and excesses, the Chinese were producing these simple lined and practical furnishings. Though I cannot say these are ideal for long dinners, they are perfect to use as hall chairs for short “stays”.
Christophe Hioco, Paris (Indian and Southeast Asian Art)
This marvelous painting on cotton is a circa 1800 pilgrim map to the Holy site of Benares, India. All temples, shrines, ponds and ghats are labeled in gold on black. Of particular interest is the flurry of activity on the Ganges and its tributary. What a lovely way to warm up a contemporary space with this painting that makes me recall the work of Italian Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994).
Joan Mirviss, New York (Japanese Ceramics)
Ceramics are all about touch and balance; how they feel and how they sit, as well as how they look and what they’re for. And so when it comes to contemporary ceramics, my fist choice is Joan, with her exacting eye for only the best. Two objects caught my eye during my visit (top and above images). Coincidentally they’re both by artist Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) who focused in making ceramics both utilitarian and sculptural and incorporated Western aesthetics of artists like Paul Klee, Juan Miro, and Pablo Picasso.
Erik Thomsen, New York (Japanese art)
This Japanese 19th century screen of a raven and a peacock feather is a must for anybody with a modern house in search of some soul. It is a FABULOUS object in that it displays a virtuoso at work. The surface is covered in silver leaf and other luxurious materials like gold, lacquer and grounded malachite and lapis lazuli.
Asia Week is held in Manhattan from 15-23 March 2013. For more information, check out the site.