Here’s where ArtReview Asia plans to be this summer

Berlin, Tokyo, Canberra, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Osaka, Manila, Yokohama and Sapporo

By Nirmala Devi

Hiwa K, This Lemon tastes of Apple, 2011, video, 16:9, colour, sound, 13 min 26 sec. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and KOW, Berlin Jason Wing, Captain James Crook, 2013, bronze, 60 × 60 × 30 cm. Courtesy the artist and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Menja Stevenson, I would like to become cat, 2017, photograph, 70 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist DEPARTURES: Intersecting Vietnamese Modern Art with R. Streitmatter-Tran, 2017 (installation view). Courtesy Richard Streitmatter-Tran and De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong Oliver Payne and Keiichi Tanaami, Untitled 16, 2017, ink, digital print sticker on paper, 46 × 38 cm. Courtesy the artists, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, and Nanzuka, Tokyo Ryan Gander, Yo-yo Criticism, 2014, commissioned Adidas Original trainers. Photo: Jack Hems. © and courtesy the artist Donation to The Library of Unread Books, 2016–. Courtesy Heman Chong, Renée Staal and MCAD, Manila Christian Jankowski, Heavy Weight History, 2013 [exhibited at the Yokohama Triennale]. Photo: Szymon Rogynski. Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery, London, Milan & New York Otomo Yoshihide + Aoyama Yasutomo + Ito Takayuki, without records – mot ver., 2015 (installation view, MOT Art Museum, Tokyo, 2015) [included in Sapporo Art Festival]. Photo: Maruo Ryuichi. Courtesy the artists


Hiwa K, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, through 13 August

Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K is a winner. Not just because as he was getting into this contemporary art business he studied flamenco with guitar master Paco Peña (music and sound remain important components in his artworks) but more particularly because he was awarded the Schering Stiftung Art Award 2016 (now in his forties, he has been based in Germany since the age of twenty-five). Better still, this self-proclaimed ‘extellectual’ often casts the knowledge of everyday life (not least the results of his own experiences of displacement and assimilation) against received doctrines of the institutional structures and systems that do so much to determine what we consider ‘art’, among other things. A Few Notes from an Extellectual, his contribution to e-flux’s 2015 Supercommunity project (http://supercommunity.e-flux.com/ authors/hiwa-k/) is an essential read. It begins with a story about his father’s attempts, at the end of the 1970s, to bring the family’s black- and-white TV into the colour era using various filters attached to the set and ends with a narrative about how he invited Tony Blair (also a student of Peña) to share a guitar lesson. Blair’s assistant wrote to decline on the grounds that he was too busy with the peace process in Israel. ‘But I hope he will accept when we ask him again, as I read that he resigned from the peace process negotiations,’ Hiwa K adds at the end. Because he (K not Blair) is a winner, the KW in Berlin (together with Schering Stiftung) are giving him a retrospective exhibition, titled Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet, which will offer an opportunity to review this most intriguing of artist’s rich and complex output of the past ten years, together with a major new production.


Menja Stevenson, I would like to become cat, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Menja Stevenson, I would like to become cat, 2017, photograph, 70 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist

Mercedes-Benz Art Scope 2015–17, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, through 27 August

Cultural exchange is being promoted by another German giant over the coming months. This time it’s Mercedes-Benz, whose Art Scope programme has been running since 1991 and offers Japanese and German artists the opportunity to experience each other’s culture. By choice rather than as a result of necessity. The results of the past two years of exchanges, work by Taro Izumi, Menja Stevenson and Tokihiro Sato (the middle one, btw, is the German and based in Stuttgart, which, incidentally, is the home of Mercedes), will be shown at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. All three artists produce their works via performative processes that highlight the experience of alien cultures, Izumi via a video installation, Stevenson via photographs, monotypes and ‘other objects’ and Sato via photography. But the notion of a programme that advocates exchange revealing otherness is an intriguing prospect on its own.


Jason Wing, Captain James Crook, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Jason Wing, Captain James Crook, 2013, bronze, 60 × 60 × 30 cm. Courtesy the artist and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, through 10 September

Speaking of alienation, the National Gallery of Australia is currently hosting its 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial, titled Defying Empire. The exhibition features 30 artists ‘whose works’, the museum states, ‘mark the ongoing resistance, resilience and defiance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people against colonisation from first contact to recognition through the 1967 Referendum and up until today’. The referendum referred to is one that granted Indigenous peoples the right to be counted as Australian. ‘At the 50th anniversary of this watershed moment in Australian history, it is important to showcase the significance of Indigenous art in defining our national cultural identity,’ said NGA director Gerard Vaughan of the exhibition. So, a show about ‘them’ that seeks to demonstrate how they became ‘us’? With resistance too? Who wouldn’t want to see that? Identity: it’s a complicated business. And hence, so often the subject of art.


DEPARTURES: Intersecting Vietnamese Modern Art with R. Streitmatter-Tran, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
DEPARTURES: Intersecting Vietnamese Modern Art with R. Streitmatter-Tran, 2017 (installation view). Courtesy Richard Streitmatter-Tran and De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

Departures: Intersecting Vietnamese Modern Art with R. Streitmatter-Tran De Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong, through 8 July

An alternative story of indigeneity is explored in Hong Kong’s De Sarthe Gallery, with Departures: Intersecting Vietnamese Modern Art with R. Streitmatter-Tran. Richard Streitmatter-Tran was born in Bien Hoa, but raised from an early age in the US. He returned to Vietnam in 2003 to practice as an artist. In many ways he is both an insider and an outsider, something that is reflected in this exhibition, which locates his work in the context of other works from a century of Vietnamese modern and contemporary art, and the flow of artists and ideas from East to West and the reverse. In other words, this is an exhibition of historically significant Vietnamese art – by artists such as Le Pho, Le Quang Tinh, Le Thi Luu, Luong Xuan Nhi, Mai Trung Thu, Nguyen Gia Tri, Nguyen Hong Linh, Nguyen Phan Chanh, To Ngoc Van, Trinh Van and Vu Cao Dam – given new interpretations via relationships with Streitmatter-Tran’s own work in a variety of media. Identity explored in a radically different way.


Oliver Payne and Keiichi Tanaami, Untitled, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Oliver Payne and Keiichi Tanaami, Untitled 16, 2017, ink, digital print sticker on paper, 46 × 38 cm. Courtesy the artists, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, and Nanzuka, Tokyo

Oliver Payne and Keiichi Tanaami, Hammer Projects, Los Angeles, through 27 August

Thanks to his delirious paintings and collages, which reflect aspects of Japanese culture ranging from the religious and the monstrous to the kawaii, eighty-year-old Keiichi Tanaami, is often referred to as one of the progenitors of Pop art in Japan. Not least by LA’s Hammer Museum, in whose project space he’s currently staging an exhibition of works produced in collaboration with London-born, LA-based Oliver Payne. The collaboration began with a series of drawings by the Japanese artist of typically monstrous and gothic avatars. To these Payne (a fan of the older artist), for whom the aesthetics of gaming arcade culture have been a trope in recent works, has applied stickers of explosions, spaceships, missiles and point scores from ‘bullet-hell’ (or shoot-em-up) arcade games. (Tanaami’s childhood, btw, was punctuated by wartime bombing raids on Tokyo and a diet of monster movies; in a way, you could view these works as the coming together of real and mediated experience.) The violently beautiful results show both a sympathetic approach and a mutual recontextualisation of each artist’s work.

Ryan Gander, Yo-yo Criticism, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2

Ryan Gander, Yo-yo Criticism, 2014, commissioned Adidas Original trainers. Photo: Jack Hems. © and courtesy the artist

Ryan Gander, National Museum of Art, Osaka, through 2 July

Another Brit immersing himself in(to) Japanese culture is Ryan Gander, whose solo exhibition These Wings Aren’t for Flying, containing almost 60 ‘important and new works’ (are the new works not important or are all the important works new?), is on show at the National Museum of Art, Osaka. (They’ve got off lightly btw: a previous exhibition that stopped at Tokyo’s Taro Nasu Gallery in 2011 was titled Ftt, Ft, Ftt, Ftt, Ffttt, Ftt, or somewhere between a modern representation of how a contemporary gesture came into being, an illustration of the physicality of an argument between Theo and Piet regarding the dynamic aspect of the diagonal line and attempting to produce a chroma-key set for a hundred cinematic scenes.) He’s a winner because he was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (how quaint) for his services to contemporary art. Expect works in a variety of media supported by tales ranging from the tall to the short, plenty of humour and a serious investigation of the nature and purpose of art.


Heman Chong Donation to The Library of Unread Books, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Donation to The Library of Unread Books, 2016–. Courtesy Heman Chong, Renée Staal and MCAD, Manila

Heman Chong and Renée Staal, MCAD, Manila, 29 June – 26 August

Many of those tropes are also to be found in the work of Singaporean Heman Chong, a regular guest on these pages. The Library of Unread Books, a project run with chief librarian Renée Staal, consists of a collection of books, donated by owners who haven’t bothered to read them (for one reason or another, but those reasons are something that it’s nice to speculate about). On having donated a book, the owners of the unread material are granted lifetime membership of the library. It’s perverse: a club that guarantees you access to exactly what you rejected in order to join it – books. But more than that, it’s a marker of the wider role that books play in Chong’s life and work (in terms of the latter, a curated selection of secondhand books were available in the bookstores of recent solo shows at the South London Gallery and Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum; he has been painting book covers since 2010; and earlier this year he published Writing Cabin Fever, a project he orchestrated in which he and four other artists generated short stories after a 24-hour workshop; there’s more, but you’ve probably had enough by now).


Christian Jankowski, Heavy Weight History, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Christian Jankowski, Heavy Weight History, 2013. Photo: Szymon Rogynski. Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery, London, Milan & New York

Yokohama Triennale, various venues, Yokohama, 4 August – 5 November

Not of ArtReview Asia’s previews, however! Only losers would give up now. So onwards we go. To the sixth edition of the Yokohama Triennale, titled Islands, Constellations & Galapagos, which, you’ll not be surprised to hear, is about isolation and connectivity. That in a world being fucked up by the forces of ‘conflict, refugees and immigration, and the emergence of protectionism, xenophobia, and populism’. Look out for contributions by artworld heavyweights such as Ai Weiwei, Maurizio Cattelan, Ragnar Kjartansson, Olafur Eliasson and Naoya Hatakeyama; but the triennale is of interest too for its inclusion of underappreciated or less well known artists such as Alex Hartley, Shooshie Sulaiman and Yoi Kawakubo. While you’re there, be sure not to miss the Ferry Terminal, designed by Foreign Office Architects, and one of the architectural masterpieces of our time. And what trip to Yokohama would be complete without a visit to the Cup noodles Museum, a tribute to Momofuku Ando, inventor of the world’s first instant ramen (‘that revolutionized eating customs all over the world’) and founder of the Nissin Food Products company. ‘Here you will gather the knowledge that inspires invention and discovery and find the creativity within you by seeing, touching, playing, eating, and having fun,’ the noodle museum boasts – ideals to which any art exhibition might also aspire.


Otomo Yoshihide + Aoyama Yasutomo + Ito Takayuki, without records – mot ver, from ARA Summer 2017 Previews part 2
Otomo Yoshihide + Aoyama Yasutomo + Ito Takayuki, without records – mot ver., 2015 (installation view, MOT Art Museum, Tokyo, 2015) [included in Sapporo Art Festival]. Photo: Maruo Ryuichi. Courtesy the artists

Sapporo International Art Festival, various venues, Sapporo, 6 August – 1 October

Up north, at the Sapporo International Art Festival, they’re certainly thinking about what they’re all about. The theme for the second edition is What is an Art Festival? Identity politics? Let’s get right down to basics! The festival’s director is composer, musician and former leader of experimental rock group Ground Zero, Otomo Yoshihide, and the programme promises an intriguing mix of sound and vision, with artists ranging from DJ Sniff to Yuko Mohri. Let’s hope the director works out what he’s doing by the end of it all. 

Read part one here


From the Summer 2017 issue of ArtReview Asia