2016 in Retrospect : 10 Asian Artists Who Made Their International Breakthrough

Source: Rockbund Art Museum
Guan Xiao. Source: artBahrain
Installation view of Guan Xiao’s Flattened Metal at ICA, photo by Mark Blower
Samson Young
Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders by teamLab
Cheng Ran. Courtesy of K11 Art Foundation
Shumon Ahmed, photographed by Ashraful Huda, during his solo presentation at Dhaka Art Summit
Tintin Wulia poses with Five Tonnes of Homes and Other Understories. Photo: Evangeline SM Lam ©Prestige
Raqs – Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula
Raqs Media Collective, Now, Elsewhere, 2009; 5 clocks, high gross aluminium. Photo by Anders Sune Berg, © Faurschou Foundation
Artist Kim Yong-ik. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Moe Satt, The Bicycle Tyre-rolling event from Yangon, 2013, Performance and photography. Courtesy of the artist
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Making it a year of career breakthrough: In 2016, international institutions all over the globe have hosted a high number of solo and group presentations and projects for the up-and-coming artists from the Asian continent, including some key moments in the artists’ career up to date. We have make a list, in no particular order, of the 10 artists from the region for whom 2016 has been a busy and big year!  And it goes without saying that these are also the artists to look forward to in 2017!

 

Maria Taniguchi (b. 1981, Philippines) 

 

Source: Rockbund Art Museum
Source: Rockbund Art Museum

 

Artist Maria Taniguchi took the lead in our 2016 list with her presentation for and final winning of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2015 which started in September through January 2016 at the Rockbund Art Museum. Best known for her ongoing series of large ‘brick’ paintings in which she arranges a consistent grid pattern into different surface configurations, Taniguchi showed her paintings and occasionally her video works in various group shows this year, including Afterwork at ParaSite (Hong Kong), Riviera at Swiss Institute (Milan), Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue at The Mistake Room (LA), Globale: New Sensorium at the ZKM Centre for Art and Media (Karlsruhe), and Sriwhana Spong and Maria Taniguchi: Oceanic Feeling at ICA (Singapore).

Taniguchi has been featured in group shows at Ibid Projects in 2014 and 2015, this year she has had her debut solo show with Ibid Projects (London space). The artist also joined Galerie Perrotin this year with a début solo show in gallery’s Hong Kong space that closes a busy year for Maria Taniguchi. A much sought after artist, a first solo show in Japan is already scheduled with Taka Ishii Gallery in 2017.

 

Guan Xiao (b. 1983, China) 

 

Guan-Xiao_Photo_Lü-Bin_Ele-photo_2-750x400
Guan Xiao. Source: artBahrain
Guan Xiao's Installation View, photo by Mark Blower
Installation view of Guan Xiao’s Flattened Metal at ICA, photo by Mark Blower

 

The Chinese video artist and sculptor has a particularly memorable year. Becoming a mother in January 2016 didn’t slow down her artistic career, quite the opposite, she is seen everywhere in the last 12 months in group shows from Beijing to Moscow passing through Italy and the UK. Her most remarkable shows this year included her first solo institutional exhibition in the UK with a recent video triptych Action (2014) and new installation comprising six large printed screens, in front of which are sculptures made up of various materials, including speakers that emit new audio works. The artist also had two solo shows in France this year, both curated by Heidi Ballet, first at CAPC (Bordeaux, March – May), then at Jeu de Paume in Paris (June – Sept) as part of the satellite program, where the three-channel video work Weather Forecast visualises the personal change that someone who travels goes through, a process with a volatility that she compares with the fluctuation of the weather. As the year comes to a close, Guan brought the ICA show back home to her native country, presenting Guan Xiao : Elastic Sleep in Shanghai (Oct – Dec) with K11 Art Foundation.

 

Samson Young (b. 1977, Hong Kong) 

 

Samson Young
Samson Young

 

Take three words to best describe Samson Young’s art journey in 2016, they might be : challenge, challenge, and challenge!

Winner of the inaugural edition of BMW Art Journey Award in 2015, Young’s meteoric rise to international fame since then has outdone any other young Asian artists in the last 12 months. In June, during the 6-day marathon live performance of Canon (2015), Young drew the attention of over 90,000 visitors and critical acclaim at the Art Basel Unlimited. Dressed in a HK police uniform, the artist stood on an 8-meter-high structure while performing a series of distressed bird calls to the bustling art crowd gathered below him with a non-lethal sonic weapon (LRAD) that used to disperse protesters. Just before the art world quiet down from the excitement of his performance, it was announced a few weeks later that Young would be the artist representing his native city Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale 2017. Challenges come one after another!

2016 might not be the most productive year for Young, but surely a highly mobile one that sends him to New York, Poland, London, Chicago for different group shows, as well as to India for a solo presentation The Mastery of Language Affords Remarkable Power and to the oceans for the ZIM Cargo Container Residency. Young ends his 2016 with his first institutional solo show in Europe that opened on 17 Dec at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, in view till March 2017. With 4 solo shows already scheduled for 2017, Young would have another challenging yet exciting year to look forward to!

 

teamLab (Art collective formed in 2001, Japan)

 

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders by teamLab
Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders by teamLab

 

It’s very easy to measure the success of the Japanese art collective teamLab’s work — by the number of new permanent display they managed to install during the year; and that figure accounts for an impressive total of 14 large-scale projects installed in 11 cities!

An artist collective made of self-described ‘ultra-technologists’, teamLab started making immersive & interactive digital installations that fuses art and technologies as early as 2001. However, they had to wait for 10 years before they received their art world debut show, and another 4 years in 2015 to have their first permanent installation outside of Japan. 2016 is an “ultra-explosive” year for teamLab, their website listed 42 projects on top of the 14 new permanent installations, both insides and outsides of Japan, including 21 solo projects, the list is simply too long to be specified here!

 

 

 

Cheng Ran (b. 1981, China)

 

Cheng Ran. Courtesy of K11 Art Foundation
Cheng Ran. Courtesy of K11 Art Foundation

 

This is not so much an international debut year for Cheng Ran as he was actively participating at biennials, group shows and institutional surveys globally in 2015. However, 2016 takes Cheng a step closer to international recognition as one of the most exciting young artists of his generation. Since 2005, Cheng has been producing film and video works that draw widely from both Western and Chinese literature, poetry, cinema, and visual culture, fabricating new narratives that combine myths and historical events. His epic 9-hour film In Course of the Miraculous (2015) was featured this year at the K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong), and later in June at the Unlimited section of the Art Basel (Basel).

2016 also witnessed Cheng’s first museum presentation in the U.S. with a three-month residency at the New Museum, Cheng Ran : Diary of a Madman was a series of fifteen new videos that take the form of diaristic vignettes to reveal a larger assessment of a foreign place through the eyes of an outsider. The show continues to 2017 (January 15), a year surely filled with anticipations for the artist!

 

Shumon Ahmed (b. 1977, Bangladesh)

 

Shumon Ahmed, photographed by Ashraful Huda, during his solo presentation at Dhaka Art Summit
Shumon Ahmed, photographed by Ashraful Huda, during his solo presentation at Dhaka Art Summit

 

The Bangladeshi artist, Shumon Ahmed, first came under international spotlight at the Prudential Eye Award Exhibition and Ceremony where he took home the Photography Award in January this year. A month later, he was once again greeted by an enthusiastic art crowd that flooded the Dhaka Art Summit where he presented a solo project  Land of the Free and a series of photographs Metal Graves at the Samdani Art Award nomination show. Best known for his conceptual photography, Ahmed sees himself as a multidisciplinary artist and keeps on testing the boundaries of different art forms through exploring and fusing the cracks between video, photography, installation, sound, performance and text to conceptualise ideas and stories that are seemingly contradictory, yet profoundly intertwined. The recent series of work When Dead Ships Travel was then shown in Vienna at Galerie Krinzinger in a group show curated by Diana Campbell in September. The artist will start his residency at Krinzinger Projekte in mid 2017.

At the year’s end, it was announced that Shumon Ahmed is shortlisted for the Absolute Art Award 2017.

 

Tintin Wulia (b. 1972, Indonesia) 

 

Tintin Wulia poses with Five Tonnes of Homes and Other Understories. Photo: Evangeline SM Lam ©Prestige
Tintin Wulia poses with Five Tonnes of Homes and Other Understories. Photo: Evangeline SM Lam ©Prestige

 

An appreciative recipient of Australia Council for the Arts’ Creative Australia Fellowship 2014-2016, the Bali-born Brisbane-based artist Tintin Wulia has been travelling back and forth between 5 continents in the last 12 months. We saw her in New York, then Singapore,  Hong Kong and Melbourne before she made her way to L.A. for another show. While the second half of the year sent her to a residency program at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and at the Hyde Park Art Centre in Chicago, he continues to show her works in Yogyakarta, Argentina, Ecuador, Amsterdam, Chicago, Eindhoven, etc.

A graduate in Music (Film Scoring), Engineering (Architecture) and a doctorate in Art, Wulia’s work is as diverse as her academic background. With her sculptures, interactive installations and performances, Wulia reflects on a modern world that is increasingly globalised, but (for many) still has boundaries. Her work responds to contemporary issues such as migration and the related issues of citizenship, nationalism and identity. Next year, Wulia will once again take these issues onto the international stage of Venice Biennale 2017 where she will be representing Indonesia at its national pavilion.

 

 

Raqs Media Collective (Founded in 1992, India) 

 

Raqs - Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula
Raqs – Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula
Raqs Media Collective, Now, Elsewhere, 2009; 5 clocks, high gross aluminium. Photo by Anders Sune Berg, © Faurschou Foundation
Raqs Media Collective, Now, Elsewhere, 2009; 5 clocks, high gross aluminium. Photo by Anders Sune Berg, © Faurschou Foundation

 

For sure 2016 is a year for celebration for Raqs Media Collective, and they might want to call it the “Biennial Year”!

The biggest gig for the Delhi-based trio, comprising Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, this year is undoubtedly the 11th Shanghai Biennial which won them much acclaim as the Chief Curator. Entitled Why Not Ask Again:  Arguments, Counter-arguments, and Stories, the artists collective / curatorial group “sees the curatorial premise as both a bid and as a query”. As Narula puts it, “we are curating to the tune of an attitude. We want a show that is alive to the wisdom of the philosopher, the energy of the skeptic and the enthusiasm of the amateur.” Hats up to the curators who have put up a fresh and beautiful show that balances itself on a strong philosophical framework and a full endorsement of the aesthetics and materiality of art practices in the region.

Other than being the curators, Raqs also presented their artistic project The Ecliptic (2014) at Gwangju Biennale 2016, and earlier at the 20th Bienale de Paiz in Guatemala City, THICKET at the Tate Exchange (Switch House) at Tate Modern, etc.

 

Kim Yong-Ik (b. 1947, Korea) 

 

Artist Kim Yong-ik. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Artist Kim Yong-ik. Courtesy of Kukje Gallery

 

For Kim Yong-Ik, a former student of the proclaimed Dansaekhwa artist Park Seo-Bo, 2016 is the year of “coming back”. Kim Yong-Ik entered Korean painting circles in the mid-1970s with work influenced by Dansaekhwa, employing optical illusion of cotton cloth. Yet Kim perfectly displays the diversity of post-Dansaekhwa art in Korea through his deconstruction of values in modern and contemporary art. His works critique the outward perfection of the modernist ideal in the form of plant juice and doodles (displaying his stream of consciousness) onto a canvas of tediously calculated rows of perfect circles; a subversive disruption of the much studied art historical movement. In the late 1990s, the artist put a temporary halt on the production of his own art to concentrate his interest on local concerns and environmental art, while at the same time undergoing a critical review of his own art activities in light of Korean art history. This self-reflection led the artist in the 2010s to immerse himself in a new project consisting of the construction of a box, which is reminiscent of a coffin, and sealing inside, the residue of his work of four decades.

This year, Kim held a major retrospective spanning his entire artistic career at Ilmin Museum of Art (Seoul), which is also the first retrospective of Kim Yong-Ik’s work in nearly 20 years, since his last solo exhibition in Kumho Museum of Art in 1997. Along with rave critical reviews of his solo exhibition of new works at Kukje Gallery (Seoul) which came shortly after, Kim has been recording stellar results at art fairs — selling out at Frieze Masters, FIAC, ART021, and Art Basel Miami Beach. This prominent rediscovery of a unique artist is a foreshadow of what more is to come next year.

 

Moe Satt (b. 1983, Myanmar) 

 

Moe Satt, The Bicycle Tyre-rolling event from Yangon, 2013, Performance and photography. Courtesy of the artist

 

Visual and performance artist Moe Satt started performing in galleries and also on streets of Yangon after graduating from East Yangon University in Myanmar with a degree in Zoology in 2005 and is part of a new generation of emerging Burmese artists. In 2008, he founded and organized Beyond Pressure, an international festival of performance art in Myanmar. He has been actively participating in live arts festivals in Southeast Asia and South Asia, and on the international stage.

In 2016, Satt participated at the group show Shapeshifting: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery Art Projects (Hong Kong),  as well as curated and participated at the survey show Silent for a While: Contemporary Art from Myanmar which features exceptional artwork by seven Burmese artists at the same gallery. Satt has been an active and prolific artist, curator and writer in the Burmese art scene, he is also well-known in the performance art circle in the region with his numerous appearances in different festivals. 2016 brought Satt beyond the boundaries and sent him to Sweden for a 3-month residency at  IIaspis in Umeå, he was seen later performing at Room for Performance at Bildmuseet in Umeå and at the 2-day festival An Age of Our Own Making at Museet for Samtidskunst in Roskilde, Denmark.

 

 

 
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