Contemporary Asian Art: Texas Connections
Contemporary Asian Art: Texas Connections, the inaugural exhibition in Asia Society Texas Center’s Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall, showcases work by Asian and Asian American artists who have lived in Texas or whose work is held in private or public collections in the state.
Guest curated by Kimberly Davenport, Director of Rice University Art Gallery, the exhibition features an outstanding selection of work by some of the foremost artists working today. The participating artists employ a wide range of media and techniques, and the objects on view include painting, sculpture, and photography.
Many of the artists exhibited in Contemporary Asian Art: Texas Connections reflect upon their experiences as immigrants. Indian-born Priya Kambli, for example, speaks to her split cultural identity in a striking photograph (above) that consists of two digital prints combined to make a single image. Dinh Q. Le takes a similar approach, using a traditional Vietnamese weaving technique to interlace personal photographs from his native Vietnam with mass media pictures of consumer products and popular culture from the United States. The longer one looks at his powerful woven photograph, the more images come into view.
The work of Shahzia Sikander, who was born in Pakistan and now lives in New York, also invites extended viewing. Her detailed drawing teems with animals, people, and a variety of objects and shapes combined with calligraphic script. Other artists in the exhibition incorporate text into their work as well, among them Pakistani-born Simeen Ishaque Farhat, whose lively wall-mounted sculpture portrays words from Urdu and Farsi poetry.
Siah Armajani and Shao Fan translate familiar, everyday objects into a vocabulary of abstraction. Iranian American Armajani combines architectural elements such as doors and windows to make his engaging freestanding sculpture, while Chinese artist and designer Shao Fan deconstructs a Ming style chair in his explosive work.
At once meditative and mesmerizing, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama further explores abstraction, repetition, and pattern. Whimsy and play are apparent in Yoshitomo Nara’s work, which is inspired by anime and manga comics from his home country of Japan. Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura’s photographic self-portrait is similarly playful and humorous in style. Morimura’s photograph of himself dressed as Marlene Dietrich blurs the boundaries of gender and of Eastern and Western culture.
Houston-born artist Mel Chin likewise addresses transnational exchange. His monumental sculpture of a spider, which is both comical and frightening, includes a porcelain teapot that references the trade of tea and other goods between England and China. Rirkrit Tiravanija and Surasi Kusolwong, both of Thai origin, also take up the subject of cultural interaction. Tiravanija’s sculpture is about sharing meals, and Kusolwong’s photograph of a traditional Thai floating market depicts the social aspects of economic exchange.
Coming from diverse backgrounds and presenting a variety of artistic materials and interests, these artists are brought together in the Asia Society’s compelling exhibition Contemporary Asian Art: Texas Connections in order to highlight the relationships formed between people, places, and things.
Click here to download descriptions of artworks included in the exhibition.