The record economic growth in Asia is also boosting contemporary art. Museums and centres of contemporary art are springing up; dynamic centres such as Shanghai attract innovative people from all over the world, and contemporary Asian artists are building an increasingly international network. The canon of international contemporary art is still defined in the West, but will the baton be passed on to Asia at some point?
The immeasurable resources of the continent have so far been largely untapped, and many social problems and human rights issues still await resolution. The clash of strong, living traditions and rapid change has its risks, but also opportunities.
The Wind from the East exhibition focuses on three Asian countries with a particularly rapid rate of change, a lively contemporary art scene, strong cultural heritage and varied political history. Indonesia, China and Thailand are quite different in their culture, political situation and religion. They all have their own ways of facing the current promises and challenges in Asia: economic growth, environmental and social problems, human rights issues and, in the case of China and Indonesia, huge populations. The exhibition is compiled by Tuula Karjalainen and Senior Curator Marja Sakari from Kiasma.
The exhibition presents contemporary artists, whose works intertwine old and new, the East and the West, myths and reality, and change and permanence into a multilayered dialogue of opposites. The participating artists are Chen Zhen, Hu Yang and Yang Zhenzhong from China, Heri Dono, Eko Nugroho, Melati Suryodarmo and Entang Wiharso from Indonesia and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook from Thailand.
Hu Yang (b. 1959) depicts the continuous change and huge social differences that exist in his native Shanghai in his photographic series Shanghai Living. The one hundred photographs take a peek into the living quarters, dreams and reality of illegal immigrants, the overworked middle class and the self-indulgent upper class.
Yang Zhenzhong (b. 1968) also takes the constantly changing Shanghai as his subject matter. His witty and humorous video works and installations open up new perspectives on the contradictions in Chinese society, consumerism and its flip side, mortality, and the required conditions for a happy family.
Heri Dono (b. 1960) is one of the best-known Indonesian contemporary artists. His art draws on Indonesian heritage, magical realism and criticism of the political situation.
Eko Nugroho (b. 1977) is a member of the younger, politically aware and fast-moving artist generation of Yogyakarta. His humoristic and surreal imagery, adorned by ironic slogans, is created using the techniques of comic strips, painting, animation and tapestry.
QUESTIONS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Chen Zhen (1955-2000), who emigrated to Paris in 1986, was one of the most renowned contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. His experiences of living between two worlds are crystallised in his poetic installations, which bond together Western and Chinese motifs, a childhood informed by the Cultural Revolution and Buddhist philosophy.
Melati Suryodarmo (b. 1969), a performance artist, moved to Germany in 1994 to study under Marina Abramovic. Her intensive, strongly physical and sensual performances balance between laughter and seriousness, the everyday and the absurd.
Entang Wiharso (b. 1967) divides his time between the United States and Indonesia. His paintings and installations combine personal, Western and Indonesian mythologies and cast a critical eye on international politics, environmental issues and cultural stereotypes and prejudices.
Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook (b. 1957) is currently one of the most famed and controversial Thai artists. She is famous for her video works that bring death close to us as she reads to the dead or dresses them in a tranquil and respectful atmosphere.