Theory and Practice in Contemporary Asian Art

NanHai Gallery in partnership with Asia Society Northern California organized a two-part symposium on October 2, 2015 entitled "Asian Art in the Contemporary World." This marked the launch event for the 2015 Asia Week San Francisco Bay Area.

Panel 1 titled “Continuity and Innovation: Art across Asia” focused on major trends in contemporary Asian art from the perspectives of academicians and art historians. Each speaker presented unique and captivating visuals in their presentations. Kuiyi Shen, Professor of Art History and Director of Chinese Studies Program at U.C. San Diego spoke about contemporary Chinese and Sino-Japanese art while An-yi Pan, Professor of History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University explored the unique aspects of contemporary Taiwanese art. South Asian art, too, was an integral part of the discussion with Sugata Ray, Assistant Professor of South Asian Art and Architecture, U.C. Berkeley, and Mary-Ann Milford-Luzker, Professor of Asian Art History and the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Mills College, analyzing South Asian artists and even how art influenced cinema and vice versa. 

Panel 2 titled ‘The Wild, Wild East: Collecting and the Asian Art Market' featured presentations by Marsha Handley, Senior Art Appraiser, Xanadu Gallery, J. Sanford Miller, Partner at Institutional Venture Partners, and Elizabeth Hammer, Vice President and Head of Sales of Chinese paintings at Christie’s in New York. The presentations focused on the different challenges that art collectors face while also throwing light on the general state of the Asian art market. Analyzing the art market as “really unstable” Marsha Handley, using examples of antique Chinese ceramics, explained how appraisal of art pieces works and discussed the various factors that have affected the antique market in this century. Another intriguing aspect of the symposium was the discussion on how the Chinese diaspora has helped create as well as spread the Chinese art market. Elizabeth Hammer shed light on two such influencers- C.C. Wang and Kung Hsiang-Hsi. Hammer described how Wang and Hsiang-Hsi, although contrasting personalities, made valuable contributions to Chinese art and its market in the Western world. The symposium ended with a presentation by J. Sanford Miller, a long-time collector of Asian art. Sanford spoke about his Lijn Collection of Chinese Ink paintings and the modalities of creating and preserving an art collection.