12490 - 20170612 - Contemporary artists draw upon Asian traditions - Oberlin, OH - 26.07.2016-12.06.2017


Masami Teraoka (American, born in Japan, 1936), Hanging Rock, from the AIDS series, 1990. Watercolor on paper. R. T. Miller Jr. Fund, 1999.12.
An exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum juxtaposes works by artists from China, Japan, Korea, the United States, Vietnam, and Canada. Through June 12, 2017, “Conversations: Past and Present in Asia and America” bridges wide temporal and cultural distances as contemporary artists relate to earlier times, traditions, events, and techniques.
Asian-American artist Roger Shimomura draws upon the graphic sensibilities of the Pop Art movement and Japanese 19th century ukiyo-e prints in his two 2014 works, Liz and Marilyn, which are shown alongside Andy Warhol’s iconic silkscreen works of the 1960s, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Shimomura, however, presents images of Japanese women, rendered in an ukiyo-e style, looking into mirrors—the celebrities reflected back at them— raising questions of otherness, self-perception, and identity.

Masami Teraoka’s 1990 watercolor Hanging Rock, while also resembling Japanese prints from the 19th century, confronts the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s. Chinese artist Wang Guangyi’s Chanel painting of 1994 ironically juxtaposes advertising imagery with 1970s Chinese political propaganda. It is paired with a Chinese political poster and with Crak!, a 1964 lithograph by Roy Lichtenstein, who drew imagery from commercial advertising, magazines, and comic books. Works by three other contemporary artists, Dinh Q. LĂȘ, Pipo Nguyen-duy, and Jenifer Wofford, use historical photography as a departure point for very personal takes on history, self, and memory.

A selection of ceramic works also emphasizes the robust dialogue between East and West, as contemporary artist draw on glazes and techniques from the past.

These “conversations” do not simply mimic the past, but engage it in a way that references earlier traditions while infusing them with the artist’s present reality. The discussion may take the form of respectful imitation, creative reinterpretation, bitter critique, ironic send-up, and sometimes all of these at once.

The exhibition is organized by Kevin R.E. Greenwood, who is the museum’s Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art.