Asia Pacific Contemporary celebrates the tenth Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) presented by Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). It includes an exciting selection of contemporary works by artists who have featured in the triennial over the past three decades.
The first APT, held in 1993 was a landmark exhibition and the first of its kind in the world. Its aim was to present contemporary art of Asia and the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.
Conceived as a triennial event, APT sought to stimulate cross-cultural dialogues in a geo-political region that was growing in global importance. Riding on the back of the cold war and the beginning of a new information era, social, economic and technological transformations have intensified over subsequent decades. For contemporary artists this has created a vibrant context in which to engage in complex dialogues and juxtapose customary and contemporary practices, cultural encounters and social change.
Asia Pacific Contemporary presents a diversity of works that reflect the APT’s embrace of contemporary art in all its forms, ranging from the ceremonial to the conceptual, and the deeply personal to the resolutely social.
Since its inception, QAGOMA has acquired works from each APT, resulting in a comprehensive and unrivalled collection of internationally significant works by leading artists from throughout the Asia-Pacific region dating from the 1980s to the present day.
Asia Pacific Contemporary is a touring exhibition of works from QAGOMAs collection and features 45 artworks by 25 artists from 13 Asian Pacific countries. It includes works by such internationally recognised artists as Dang Thi Khue (Vietnam), Heri Dono (Indonesia), Yang Fudong (China), Tracey Moffatt (Australia), Risham Syed (Pakistan) and Michel Tuffery (Aotearoa New Zealand), along with others from the QAGOMA Collection, in painting, sculpture, works on paper, video and performance.
Performance and music are central elements of art and culture throughout Asia and the Pacific. Lee Wen is a Singapore based performance artist whose work Journey of a yellow man no. 13: Fragmented bodies/shifting ground, 1999 in APT3 resulted in one of the most enduring images of the exhibition series. Yellow Man is Lee Wen’s best-known performance persona and allowed him to interrogate social and cultural norms. Stripping to his underwear, the artist coated himself in yellow paint — an exaggeration of his Chinese-Malay ethnicity — and undertook actions in a variety of spaces, from conventional galleries to city streets. From 1994, Lee Wen staged the Yellow Man’s journeys in a range of international locations (including Brisbane), broadening interpretations of his colouring as he moved between cultural contexts.
Several artists represented in Asia Pacific Contemporary draw on and reference traditional techniques or customary practices. Tomoko Kashiki is a Japanese artist whose work I am a rock 2012 develops an unconventional treatment of nihonga (traditional Japanese painting). Her beautifully crafted paintings appear fragile, depicting an intimate world of dreams and desire. The women in her paintings are almost always artfully distorted, with elongated limbs curving in graceful yet uncanny arcs, conforming less to the logic of anatomy than to the artist’s aesthetic imperatives.
Zheng Guogu is a conceptual Chinese artist whose studies of qi inform his Visionary transformation series. Qi is the fundamental life force or energy flow of traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. Zheng’s paintings incorporate geometric and iconographic elements derived from traditional Tibetan Buddhist tangka painting, but his works are distinguished by synthetic-looking hues, while layered imagery and vibrant optical effects replicate the flow of qi.
1. Guogu Zheng
Grand Visionary Transformation of Hevajra 2016
Oil on canvas
197 x 134cm
The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 2017 with funds from Michael Sidney Myer through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation
Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA
© Guogu Zheng
2. Wen Lee
Journey of a yellow man no. 13: Fragmented bodies/shifting ground (still) 1999
Videotape: 10:30 minutes, colour, stereo
Purchased 2000. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
© Lee Wen
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