Asia Week New York, a vital event for the city that brings together collectors, dealers, and scholars in the field of Asian art, returns this month with a mix of exhibitions that represent the vast diversity and rich history of the Asian continent. This vibrant staple has been running for 13 years will take place from March 16th through 25th. Asia Week was initially established to bring focus to art and culture of the Eastern world in the unofficial art capital of the Western world. This year, Asia Week will feature 22 galleries exhibiting in person, four galleries with exclusive online exhibitions, 20 sales from 6 different auction houses, and an assortment of museum shows, with lectures delivered by experts in their respective fields.
One of the major highlights of this year’s presentation is that roughly half of the participating galleries will be showing contemporary Asian art. In the past, antiquities and ancient art dominated the exhibition calendar, but this concentration on contemporary artwork hints at trends in collecting. Whether you are a local New Yorker, visiting for the event, or a remote enthusiast, read on for a glimpse of the treasures that Asia Week brings to light.
Gallery Exhibitions – The Highlights
New York-based HK Art and Antiques is the only dealer focusing on Korean painting and sculpture. Bringing together a variety of ancient and contemporary works, their exhibition is on view from March 17th-April 6th. While there is no shortage of Indian art included this year, London dealers Brendan Lynch and Oliver Forge feature 16th-century paintings from Iran alongside their presentation of Indian works in their showing on 80th street for the entirety of Asia Week. There are many galleries presenting Chinese, Indian, and Japanese art, so I’ve included some stand-out exhibits below to give an overarching picture of what’s on view. For a complete list of dealers and gallery exhibitions, click here.
In a joint presentation with New York’s Joan B. Mirviss Gallery, Beijing-based gallery INK Studio will be showing recent work by Bingyi in “Land of Immortals.” The exhibition will be held alongside Joan B. Mirviss’s presentation of Kondō Takahiro’s work on E. 78th Street, bringing together the traditions of Chinese ink painting and Japanese ceramics in one exhibition space. Bingyi’s scroll paintings were inspired by her travels to the Taihang Mountains in Northern China’s Eastern Yellow-River Loess. The region was home to three ink masters of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) who were instrumental in defining China’s monumental landscape painting tradition: Fan Kuan (c.960-c.1030), Guo Xi (c.1020-c.1090), and Li Tang (c.1050-1130). By capturing the same landscape that her predecessors exalted hundreds of years later, Bingyi reinterprets the stunning Chinese wilderness through her process. Her work is also a reminder of an ancient tradition of reverence for both natural and internal environments. The exhibition will be on view for the run of Asia Week.
Ralph M. Chait Galleries have been stewards of fine Chinese works of art, specifically porcelain, since the early 1900s. For this year’s edition of Asia Week, they are presenting a top-tier selection of Chinese porcelain, along with two notable works of Japanese porcelain. A decadent Kangxi period rouleau vase is an excellent example of the era’s ceramic creations, decorated with large reserves of birds on flowering branches. Rouleau vases, one of the new vase shapes introduced during the Kangxi period, also known as the Bangchiuping form, typically feature imagery that denotes a narrative. If Chinese porcelain is one of your interests, Zetterquist Galleries will be open by appointment only and feature ceramics from the esteemed Tang dynasty through the Yuan dynasty, with prime examples of celadons born at the Yaozhou, Yue, and Longquan kilns.
A long-time participant of Asia Week, London-based gallery Francesca Galloway has teamed up with established New York gallery Luhring Augustine Tribeca to present this year’s exhibition: “Court, Epic, Spirit: Indian Art 15th -19th Century.” The show features Indian miniature paintings, textiles, and other courtly objects, including the architectural facade of a magnificent late 18th-early 19th century Mughal pleasure pavilion from Agra installed at Luhring Augustine’s Bushwick location and available to view by appointment. Among the paintings are folios from the Shangri Ramayana, Style III – rare and important Ramayana illustrations dated c. 1700-1710. In addition to these miniature paintings, the gallery shows an early Mughal artwork commissioned by Emperor Akbar around 1565 that depicts a scene from the Story of Hamza. “Court, Epic, Spirit” opened in January and will run through March 24th.
Exhibiting online with a corresponding show at their permanent New Delhi location, Akar Prakar features a solo exhibition of contemporary artist Jayashree Chakravarty’s work in “Feeling the Pulse (in the pandemic years).” Chakravarty’s work centers on nature and her anguish over humankind’s disregard for the sanctity of the environment. In her current works, the artist considers our collective need for sanctuary in a post-COVID existence, illustrating an urgent desire for balance in both the natural world and within our minds. Seeking recuperative energies through her artmaking, Chakravarty reminds us that we are all connected, using grass and roots, seeds and mud, as materials to imagine the growth of new life, new possibilities, through the fertile tending of her canvas. The exhibit will be on view from March 16th to April 15th.
Another notable showing of Indian art takes place at New York’s DAG with “A Place in the Sun: Women Artists from 20th Century India.” The show celebrates the contributions of ten Indian women to Indian Modernism and will be on view from March 15th – May 28th, 2022.
In Chelsea, Onishi Gallery will exhibit a collection of metalwork by Japanese artists hailed as Living National Treasures at their permanent space on W. 26th Street. The “Eternal Beauty of Metal” opens on March 16th and runs through the 23rd; the title of the exhibition is drawn from the philosophy of Japan’s first female Living National Treasure in metal art, Ōsumi Yukie, who has stated that there is “something particularly meaningful about the way that metals can substitute the permanent for the fleeting and transitory, conferring eternity on phenomena that would otherwise have a limited lifespan.” Each artist featured in the show, however different in expression, embraces traditional methods when sculpting their works in gold, silver, platinum, copper, lead, and unique Japanese alloys. Among the 18 artists represented are Ōsumi Yukie, Oshiyama Motoko, Okuyama Hōseki, and Nakagawa Mamoru. You can find works by these artists featured in Bonhams’s sale of Japanese and Korean art on March 23rd.
Kondō Takahiro’s new porcelain forms will be on view at Joan B. Mirviss LTD, in “Making Waves” from March 16th-25th. The show’s title aligns with the artist’s perpetual interest in water as an element in all its destructive and contrastingly lifegiving glory. The featured porcelain incorporates white clay, which works in unison with darker colors to contribute to Takahiro’s understanding of the shape of water, creating surfaces that appear to be flowing, just as a river or stream would. The result of this technique transforms the sculpted pieces into what Takahiro calls “porcelain ink paintings,” mimicking ancient traditions. He has said about this new body of work, “The process of creating these sculptures made me more aware of how water, waves, and waterfalls flow. By incorporating a whiter clay, my work has evolved and been elevated. I feel that I have expressed the subtle and profound beauty of ink painting without using a brush, but by using clay.” Aptly, INK Studios will present Bingyi’s landscape ink paintings alongside Takahiro’s pottery at Joan B. Mirviss, further illustrating the comparison between porcelain and scroll.
Through an online-only exhibition, Burbank-based Egenolf Gallery has compiled a comprehensive assemblage of work by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), one of the last great ukiyo-e artists. For a selection of classic Japanese woodblocks, Art of Japan will exhibit prints spanning 200 years at the Mark Hotel, from March 18th-26th by appointment.
Select galleries will be hosting opening receptions on March 16th, 17th, and 18th.
Lectures and Museum Events
If you are interested in learning more about the intricacies of Asian art, you are in luck.
Asia Week’s educational events begin with an online lecture presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art on March 15th, examining Iran’s Safavid carpets and their place in 17th century Europe. The museum will present another online lecture on the 17th about the relationship between Iranian design and the world of fashion.
Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins museum will host a panel discussion on March 16th with its in-house curators and Dr. Amin Jaffer, senior curator of the renowned Al-Thani collection. On March 17th, the Denver Art Museum will present a panel on 20th-century Chinese inkwork, while Asia Society will host a discussion between four artists whose work touches on the global water crisis —a timely topic that connects us all.
For those of you in central Texas, The San Antonio Museum of Art is hosting a hybrid lecture on March 22nd presented at the museum and on Zoom by Dr. Jenny So, Professor of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. So will be covering the artistic legacy of the Qidan, founders of China’s first prominent foreign dynasty.
Juhyung Rhi, who is a professor of Buddhist Art History at Seoul National University, will lecture on the Buddhist art of Gandhara, an ancient civilization located in present-day Pakistan and parts of north-east Afghanistan, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 18th. Also taking place that day is the opening of the Rubin Museum‘s “Healing Practices: Stories from Himalayan Americans,” with free admittance from 6:00-10:00 PM.
On Sunday morning, March 20th, the Japanese Society of America will host a hybrid online and in-person event led by print collector George Mann, who has assembled a world-class collection of Japanese prints. (Note: Advance registration is required for this event, to register, click here.)
The China Institute will feature a live ticketed performance on March 23rd entitled “In Search of China’s Soul – Bingyi’s Lotus Dynasty: Performance, Music, and Conversation with Epic Avant-Garde Artist Bingyi.” This event coincides with the exhibition of Bingyi’s work at INK Studios.
Asia Week is a massive event for major auction houses and their Asian art departments, making up a large part of their sales in the field each year. Bonhams and Christie’s will host the most extensive sales, with auctions in modern, contemporary, and traditional Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian art. In addition, both houses will be presenting special non-selling exhibitions: At Bonhams, pieces from the Claude de Marteau Collection will be on view from March 16th-21st, highlighting “Treasures from Tibet, Nepal, India, and Southeast Asia,” and at Christie’s, “Wang Fangyu: A Wenren in America” features painting and calligraphy by some of China’s foremost artists of the 20th century, brought together by artist, scholar, and collector Wang Fangyu. Christie’s is also hosting three virtual events through Zoom led by experts in Asian art.
Sotheby’s will host two in-person lectures on March 19th examining important collections of Chinese art. Appropriate programming considering that with the exception of one sale in modern and contemporary South Asian art, all of their auctions will focus on Chinese artwork. Doyle will feature a two-part sale of Asian art, one on March 21st and one on March 25th, and Heritage will host a single auction of Asian works with 281 lots on offer. Lark Mason’s iGavel will exhibit its sale preview for Asian, Ancient, and Ethnographic Works of Art from March 16th-25th, but the sale itself will take place online in April.
For a complete itinerary of the 2022 edition of Asia Week, visit asiaweekny.com.
(The featured image: Yamakawa Shūhō (1898-1944), Beauty in the Snow, Showa era (1926-1989). Circa 1930, ink and mineral colors on silk, overall Size 84 x 24¼ in. (213.5 x 61.5 cm). (Courtesy: Thomsen Gallery).