This June issue is quite a contrast to the March TAASA Review, which focused on historical collections held by the various royal houses of Asia. This issue has a much more modern feel, and its emphasis on East Asia is particularly appropriate given that we can look forward to two major exhibitions on Japan in the coming months.
Our opening article is Khanh Trinh’s preview of Theatre of dreams, Theatre of play - no and kyogen in Japan, on show at the AGNSW from 14 June. Though a wide range of exhibits will be on display, Khanh’s article explores one particular aspect: noga or painted and printed images depicting various aspects of this performing tradition.
Soon after, the NGV will be presenting Bushido: Way of the Samurai, which will offer fascinating insight into the life and preoccupations of this warrior élite. Wayne Crothers gives us a taste of what we can expect to see - including a truly fabulous Edo period suit of armour.
To flesh out our Japanese offerings, we have two shorter pieces. Wendy Ella Wright gives us a personal account of her four days spent with ceramic artist Yoshikawa Masamichi, acting as his interpreter during his Master classes at the Australian Ceramics Triennale, Subversive Clay, held in Adelaide in 2012.
Russell Kelty describes a current display at AGSA which showcases over 40 works from a private collection of contemporary Japanese ceramics together with ceramics, prints and sculptures from the Gallery’s own collection.
As this is after all a general issue, there are wider topics on offer, a number covering Chinese themes. Liwanna Chan writes about a very vibrant and colourful peasant painting movement emerging in the late 1970s in Jinshan near Shanghai, which essentially transferred artistic folk traditions such as jianzhi (paper cut techniques) and embroidery into the painting medium.
Looking back to the Ming, John Millbank’s article discusses a major innovation in building construction – namely temples built entirely of brick with arches and vaulted ceilings rather than the more traditional timber framework. About half of the dozen known examples of these ‘beamless halls’ are the work of a monk called Miaofeng. John speculates on what motivated him to construct these buildings, and why less durable wooden structures remained the primary architectural form in China.
And finally on Chinese themes, Jocelyn Chey reviews a recent book by Kirk Denton on the role of museums in contemporary China, and how the representation of China’s past is changing as Chinese society evolves.
Architectural innovation is also the focus of another article in this issue, this time of the 20th century Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, who developed a style of architecture which melded vernacular architectural forms with inspiration drawn from historical prototypes and Sri Lanka’s natural environment. Sabrina Snow and Ann Proctor were lucky enough to stay in a number of Bawa designed hotels in their recent visit to Sri Lanka, and we can share their wonderful experiences.
Staying in the 20th century, and SE Asia, Sahul Hamid covers a very particular period in Indonesian history when a Socialist Realist form of art was used to promote the revolutionary agenda of the Sukarno regime in the late 50s and early 60s. He gives us a detailed account of the way in which individuals and organisations were co-opted to adopt this art style to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the population.
Emerging from a long period of State control over the creation of much of their art, Central Asian artists have made a strong impact at the recent Art Dubai fair held in March. Each year, Art Dubai reserves space to highlight a particular theme or geography. In his article, Asher Kohn walks us through the curated space which this year covered the diverse output of artists from Central Asia and the Caucasus as represented by five galleries from the region.
In past TAASA Reviews, we have tried to present interesting but less well known collections of Asian art. In this issue, the ANU Classics Collection is highlighted by Elizabeth Minchin, its honorary curator. It comprises about 650 items from the Greco-Roman world, whose culture influenced a vast region from Great Britain in the west to Syria and Iraq in the east.
Finally, TAASA held its AGM on 14 May where a number of existing Committee members stood down and new ones were welcomed. Details will be provided in the September issue of the TAASA Review.
4 PAINTING THE THEATR E: NO PICTURES AT THE AGNSW
7 JINSHAN PEASANT PAINTING IN CHINA
10 BUSHIDO: WAY OF THE SAMURAI
12 A GLOBAL AUDIENCE, ONCE AGAIN: CENTRAL ASIAN ART AT ART DUBAI
14 SOCIALIST REALIST ART IN SUKARNO’S INDONESIA
17 THE ‘BOUNDLESS HALLS’ OF BUILDER MONK MIAOFENG (1540-1613)
20 SHEDDING NEW LIGHT ON THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN WORLD: THE ANU CLASSICS COLLECTION
22 SRI LANKA’S BAWA: ARCHITECTURE’S SERENDIPITOUS LINKS
Sabrina Snow & Ann Proctor
24 FOUR DAYS WITH CERAMIC ARTIST YOSHIKAWA MASAMICHI
Wendy Ella Wright
27 ELEMENTS IN HARMONY: CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE CERAMICS - A DISPLAY AT THE ART GALLERYOF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
28 BOOK REVIEW: EXHIBITING THE PAST
29 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
30 TAASA MEMBERS' DIARY: JUNE – AUGUST 2014
31 WHAT ’S ON: JUNE – AUGUST 2014
Compiled by Tina Burge