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Exploring East Asian Identity Through Contemporary Art
By Kaavya Pillai
22 Nov 2022
East Asian contemporary art carries with it the diverse wealth of heritage, tradition, cultures and unique perspectives that are spread out across the region. Often combining the long, rich history of Japan, China and Korea, the present realities and hopes for the future, artwork from leading East Asian contemporary artists have been earning massive international recognition and fame. Several renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama, Cho Sung Hee and Li Tianbing have brought their dynamic visual language born from their personal experiences growing up in East Asia to the contemporary art world helping the world gain more insight into the region. AstaGuru’s upcoming ‘International Iconic’ auction will showcase works from some such artists.
Lot no. 26: Lovely Red Blossoms by Cho Sung Hee
Korean contemporary artist Cho Sung Hee’s works are an exploration of her personal experiences and the beauty that lies in the natural world. The artist jump-started her career by creating figurative works which quickly evolved into executing mesmerising abstract collage works, which have now become her signature style. One of the central and integral parts of her collages is Asian mulberry paper, also known as Hanji. Hanji, a common decorative feature in traditional Korean houses, is painstakingly cut by hand to create individual pieces which are then layered with oil paint to create a three-dimensional surface. Cho’s works feature over ten thousand such paper petals, using colour, texture and space to evoke a sense of calm even in the chaos of the composition. The presented lot is a beautiful example of such a work, exploring the aesthetic beauty of nature.
Lot no. 27: Autoportrait Vert G by Li Tianbing
Chinese artist Li Tianbing’s work heavily incorporates traditional Chinese motifs and fuses them with Western forms of interpretation. The contemporary artist explores both fiction and reality through his childhood memories of growing up in a tumultuous political environment with suffocating political norms. He uses photographs as the starting point, after which he layers on oil painting. The photographs symbolise the artist’s reflections on the past and his long history of multicultural experiences while the oil painting reflects the present. His art is representative of his personal identity and the loneliness he was subject to owing to the single child policy in China. The dual influence of the Far-East and the West is evident in his works, with the former being a legacy of Chinese painting imbued with Taoism, the latter coming from the teachings of art professors such as Vladimir Veličković, Christian Boltanski and Giuseppe Penone while he studied at the Fine Arts School in Paris.
Lot no. 32: Shellfish by Yayoi Kusama
One of the foremost figures of contemporary art, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has been massively influential in creating Pop Art and minimalism as we know it today. Her artworks filled with dots have become a signature for the artist, first appearing as a coping mechanism when she had a hallucination as a child. When she was younger in a field of flowers, she imagined herself being surrounded by a sea of dots speaking to her. Ever since, her artworks have heavily featured dots including her most famed installations called ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’ that play with mirrors and LED lights. Another famed series she is known for is ‘Infinity Nets’ that mirror seascapes and feature impasto loops and dots to create a surreal effect. The avant-garde artist’s mediums range from environmental sculptures, soft sculpture to large-scale paintings and installations that are widely appreciated globally. Kusama has also showcased her art through happenings, movies, fashion and novels.
AstaGuru reaches an important milestone with our upcoming 'International Iconic' auction set to showcase a medley of works by revered and iconic global artists. The stunning lineup of the auction scheduled on November 28-29, 2022, represents some of the most important moments in modern and contemporary art. Visit the AstaGuru website to view the catalogue and register to bid today.