4 ontemporary art practices in the Asia- Pacific continue to grow, adapt and change at a rapid rate, reflecting not only the most recent artistic trends, but the political, economic and social structures from which they emerge. The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) has represented the art of the region since 1993, and this November marks the eighth instalment of the exhibition. This iteration presents over 80 projects from a region that extends from Samoa to Turkey, along with a diaspora and production methodologies that traverse the world. Following the 20 year anniversary celebrated in 2012-13, APT8 brings together new trends and emerging artists alongside senior and pioneering figures and specially developed focus projects.
APT8 spreads through the entirety of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) as well as a majority of the recently heritage-listed Queensland Art Gallery (QAG). Occupying the central spaces of both buildings are major installations drawing on one of the themes threading through the exhibition: the use of everyday objects and vernacular processes. In the QAG watermall, a space that has become iconic for the APT staging major works by the likes of Cai Guo-Qiang, Ai Weiwei and Yayoi Kusama, Korean artist Haegue Yang installs a striking abstract form in homage to Sol LeWitt, constructed from over 1000 venetian blinds. This hangs nearby two other object-rich installations: Iranian trio Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian who amass illustrations, street theatre, re-creations of Persian poetry and painting and their own art collections; and Choi Jeong Hwa, known for his enormous, brightly coloured sculptures fashioned from domestic and everyday plastic objects. In the core of GOMA, Indian artist Asim Waqif creates his most ambitious work to date, an interactive structure that traverses levels and bears the influence of the artist’s background in architecture and interest in Queensland vernacular building materials.
Waqif is part of a significant contingent of Indian artists in APT8, and each represents practices outside the established art centres of Mumbai and Delhi. Desire Machine Collective is a duo from Assam, known for their slow-paced, cinematic films, and together with Prabhakar Pachpute’s site specific charcoal drawings inspired by the coal-mining region of his hometown, they provide glimpses of parts of India rarely seen. Meanwhile a major focus project for this Triennial explores the great breadth and vitality of art from some of the more remote parts of India in Kalpa Vriksha: Contemporary Indigenous and Vernacular Art of India. While APT is known for works in a wide range of media, APT8 will offer a rich breadth of painting practices, born from a diversity of traditions and techniques. Following the first research trip conducted by QAGOMA to Mongolia, a suite of works by some of the leading Mongol zurag painters exposes this fascinating form. Mongol zurag is a revival of a painterly idiom developed during the Mongolian independence movement of the early 20th century. Characterised by its ultrafine brushwork, flattened perspective and themes drawn from everyday life, Mongol zurag synthesised Tibetan Thangka painting with classical Chinese painting and Liao dynasty equestrian art to express the ideals of secular nationalism. Re-emerging as the country sought to reconstitute its national identity in the late 1990s, Mongol zurag has been taken up by a passionate new generation who have found within it a means to address the unprecedented urbanisation and uncertain economy of their homeland. The rich textures of these paintings resonate with Nepaleseborn Tibetan artist Tsherin Sherpa’s bold compositions.
Trained by his father, a master Thangka painter, Sherpa deconstructs the traditional imagery, challenging the strict discipline in figuration and exploring abstract qualities inherent in Thangka designs. Kathmandu-based Hit Man Gurung represents the emerging generation of Nepali artists and their strong sense of social activism. Gurung’s realist paintings investigate the effects of the mass labour migration of young Nepali men to the Middle East and the shocking conditions and numerous work-place deaths. Like many young Kathmandu artists, Gurung was heavily active in relief efforts following this year’s earthquakes, and a new painting created for APT8 has allowed him to respond to these experiences. A new series of works by Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul captures his signature movieposter like panoramas of figures, and reflects on 20 years of his career, including participating in APT2 in 1996 and his trips to assist renowned Thai artist Montien Boonma in Australia in the early 1990s. Liu Ding and Duan Jianyu are artists at the forefront of new waves in Chinese contemporary art. Both of these artists maintain highly conceptual approaches while borrowing and challenging historical motifs; Liu Ding is interested in testing principles of social realism in the context of China’s new art market and Duan Jianyu’s large-scale paintings present incongruous scenarios drawing on a wide range of sources from European art history, classical Chinese painting, and imagery of rural life.