This is what happens when I put off writing entries… I end up with a whole bunch of articles and blog posts that I wanted to link to and discuss, and as I continue to be too busy and/or tired to do a proper full write-up, I’m just gonna do some quick bits.
Yee I-Lann, Orang Besar series: ‘Kain Panjang with Carnivorous Kepala‘, 2010, direct digital mimaki inkjet print with acid dye, batik canting Remazol Fast Salt dyes on 100% silk twill, edition of 3 + 2AP. Image taken from original Art Radar post. No claims to rights made; no revenue earned.
The realism of the photography, somehow transformed into an image that looks painted, drawn, or otherwise created by hand, and accompanied by more abstract and hand-painted forms, creates a really interesting aesthetic. I also quite like the balance of the people to the right and the plant image – looking like a gold-backed Japanese screen painting – to the left. Most importantly, of course, is the distinctly Asian flavor. The plants, the gold-backing, the batik borders, and of course the ethnicity (and fashion? perhaps?) of the figures give the image an extra flavor, an extra texture and punch that your standard acultural panglobal Western modern art work would lack.
(2) Cai Guo-Qiang, meanwhile, has been busy at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where his largest gunpowder drawings yet are on display. I’ve heard of Cai Guo-Qiang numerous times – he’s one of the biggest names in Chinese contemporary art here in the US – but I am not sure if I have ever seen his work. I was under the impression that he worked in gunpowder in the sense of actually creating shapes in the flames, in explosions and fireworks shows, the event itself being the art, and the photography of the art, and boring, shapeless piles of ashes and scorchmarks being merely the records and aftereffects.
But it would seem that I was quite mistaken. These gunpowder “drawings” seem to cover the full four walls of the gallery, and are gorgeous works of art that look not like the aftereffects of a performance piece, but as artworks in themselves, reminding one of traditional style sumi (ink) monochrome paintings, albeit in a most unusual medium.
(3) The big news in Japan this past week was the discovery that two swords found under the Great Buddha at Tôdaiji are now believed to be 1,250 years old, and to be the very same individual swords mentioned on an ancient list of national treasures.
The swords were found roughly 100-150 years ago (some time in the Meiji era 1868-1912), but were not until recently identified as being the “Yin Sword and Yang Sword” listed at the very top of the swords/weapons list within the Kokka Chinpô-chô (国家珍宝帳, “List of Rare Treasures of the Kingdom”), which lists treasures held at Tôdaiji, including treasures in the famous Shôsôin Imperial Storehouse.
I had had a video to share, a clip from TBS news, but like many Japanese news services, they don’t seem to have any interest in keeping content up for more than a few days.