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Asia Art, You Chose Your Games

陈溪 Cecilia Chan 2016-01-01 11:22

If a summary needs to be made of Shanghai art events in 2015, these grand exhibitions at RAM are all remarkable highlights. From the ambitious exhibition Without Going To New York And Paris Life Could Be Internationalised by Chinese Artist Chen Zhen, who lives in France, to Hugo Boss Asia Art, a clear curatorial vein has surfaced. Since “Art” has gradually become a symbol of the city today, the interaction between Asian Art and international art has become an unavoidable topic in art development. How should Asian art create its own vibe and also fit into the international context? Answers may take shape in this year’s Hugo Boss Asia Art Awards. 

The six nominated artists are all under 35 years old and were chosen from 33 candidates who originated from 10 different countries and regions. They are all considered to have demonstrated innovation in their artistic practice, and have actively contributed to a discourse on the current and urgent challenges of society. The six nominated artists are developing their skill and methods in Asia. All have demonstrated a rich diversity of practice. The selection of work ranges from painting to video art; from sculpture to installation and performance; from anthropological research to more conceptual and poetic representations; from observation of their environment to their formulation into a universal artistic statement, the exhibition presents completely new productions and art projects of the utmost quality. 

China View 


Among these six nominated artists, three of them are from China. In artist Yang Xinguang’s new work, Untitled (Pluto), he used aluminum board, steel and other materials to demonstrate the popularity on social media of the photos taken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), released by the space probe New Horizons. He transforms this collective euphoria into an object of observation. On a golden aluminum plate, he welded an image of Pluto with flames erupting, which he placed on a structure composed of geometric lines. With this he satirically erects a memorial for the affected emotional performances which spread unchecked in our age. The materials Guan Xiao chooses to work with result from personal experience and what crosses her path, including ready-made objects and artifacts which she encounters in daily life, as well as images obtained via the internet and other media. These materials signify various issues related to culture, technology, materialism and power in contemporary reality. In her double-screen digital HD video work, Reading, the artist’s definition of the concept of reading is not limited to words. “Reading” could be the individual perceptive process of any material including images; it involves the sensorial reception and reflection of the object of reading. 

Installation view of SUNRISE by Guan Xiao.jpg

Artist Huang Po-Chih’s works envision a macroscopic backdrop of trade and exchange, cross-sectioning complex industrial structures all the way down to the individuals who create this structure. The project Five Hundred Lemon Trees ferments astringent lemon seeds into a sweet lemon liqueur. Such imagery also represents a spirit of optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of deprivation. At the project’s outset, the artist gathered 500 participants to purchase a liquor label; with the funds, he planted 500 lemon trees in a long-abandoned rice field in northern Taiwan. Two years later, he repaid the original participants with a lemon liqueur with the liquor label on them. Thereafter, the artist has brought Five Hundred Lemon Trees to museums and exhibitions, allowing viewers from around the world to sample and share in this distinctive work of art—and thus further develop his projects with the help of the resources from the art world, thus injecting a new vitality into farmland no longer active, as well as their villagers and their stories. 

Southeast Asia Art Light 

Filipino artist Maria Taniguchi began creating her brickwork painting series in 2007; this has now become a huge system of over 60 paintings. Every day she would be in the studio and would paint little segments one after the other with acrylic, forming a grid. She uses a monochromatic painting technique in her oeuvre, with each ‘brick’ containing subtle differences in colour, texture and details. As a totality, this in turn gives off a sombre, repressive sensation. The artist inscribes all the ideas produced during the creative process, which becomes an indecipherable narrative lining. These huge ‘brick walls’ erect a huge obstacle in one’s mind as one views them one after the after, standing right in front of them; one continually searches for the boundaries. The strict order brought about by the works symbolise an opaque reality and system wherein one is entrapped, thereby sensing the struggles that emerge within ideas as well as the determination in searching to  overcome boundaries. 

Significant historical archives and documentation of Cambodia were lost during the violent campaign of cultural purges. Vandy Rattana’s endeavour of retrieving and preserving the memories that bear witness to the past, operates in a context in which the act of remembrance is a form of subversion. In his photographic work, the Bomb Ponds series, the bomb craters from several decades ago have now become ponds covered by grass and water. Indelible in these lush fields are the traces and memories of the violence of war; though repaired somewhat by time and by nature, the scars are still visible—thus imparting a sense of anxiety and an indelible impression on the viewers who understand what the photographs portray. 


The body is the Myanmar artist, Moe Satt’s, foremost medium. Besides placing a series of actions and performances related to the body, he also continues the theme using videos and installations. In his work, Five Questions to Society Where I Live, through the combination of neon lights and sculptures of hand gestures, Moe Satt poses questions to the society in which he lives. These heuristic questions focus on the people’s living conditions and psychological state amid a society currently undergoing major reforms. They constantly remind us of people’s reflections on and interrogations of the current conditions of society and individuals. In the 2010–2014 version, Moe Satt constantly proposed three questions: “R U Ok?”; “R U Good?”; “R U Peace?” 


With the general elections in Myanmar, Moe Satt added two pressing questions to the 2015 version: “R U Against the Junta?” and “R U Voting?” What is worth noticing in particular is that the sign used for this question is precisely the sign of rebellion-three fingers upwards-originally from The Hunger Games, the adventure novel and Hollywood film series. The artist encourages people to take action and seize freedom. Making a prudent choice about the country’s future is in their hands. 

Nominated Artists


Vandy Rattana 


The photographic and film series of Vandy Rattana attest to a documentary impulse found in the work of photojournalism, but his eye for certain compositional frames and the capture of particular moments speaks to a deep understanging of the social history behind the vision shaped by the aesthetics of cinema. 

Guan Xiao 


Born in Chongqing and lives in Beijing, Guan Xiao’s practice extends across various media, notably sculpture, installation, and video. In her works, “cognition” serves as a key concept, the materials Guan Xiao chooses to work with are consequences of personal experience and chance. 

Huang Po-Chih 


Huang Po-Chih was born and works in Hsinchu, Taiwan, China. In his multi-disciplinary practice, he focuses on exploring issues related to production, agriculture, manufacturing, and consumption, and from there undertakes criticism on an artistic level. 

Yang Xinguang


Born in Changsha, Hunan Province, artist Yang Xinguang’s creative oeuvre is focused primarily on sculpture, though he certainly does use mediums such as video and performance, among others. In his works, the material itself is a particularly salient component. 

Moe Satt


Artist Moe Satt lives and works in Yangon, Myanmar. He was born to a country which suffered from the dictatorship of the military junta. Moe Satt became a leading figure in his generation of artists for his persistent concern for and criticism of the socio-political conditions that his people are subjected to, as well as his unprecedented artistic ideas and practice. 

Maria Taniguchi


The award was won by Filipino artist Maria Taniguchi. Her voluminous brick paintings employ rigorous composition and monochromic techniques, with a dense investment of time and labour which is transformed into a visual spectacle. 

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