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The art of changing

When Turkish artist Lale Tara revisited a classical motif in the western art-that of Mother Mary with a child-she kept the church setting intact.

When Turkish artist Lale Tara revisited a classical motif in the western art-that of Mother Mary with a child-she kept the church setting intact. She,however,made the place appear deserted except for the figure of a woman with a baby at the centre. Yet,that’s not her best move,which won’t be revealed unless one takes a very close look at the work titled Madonna con Bambino. For,the woman in the image is not a live one,but a sex doll.

Tara’s work is proof that the art world has moved on. And that’s what curator Andre Lee has tried to showcase during the just-opened show called The Tradition of the New at Sakshi Gallery,Colaba,with a focus firmly on Asian artists. To bring to the fore the changes that have crept into the contemporary art of Asia,the Taipei-based curator brings together works of nine Asian artists including Newsha Tavakolian (Iran),Noriko Yamaguchi (Japan),Tsai Charwei (Taiwan),Tu Wei-Cheng (Taiwan),Kuo I-Chen (Taiwan),Jompet Kuswidananto (Indonesia),Wu Chi-Tsung (Taiwan) and India’s Shilpa Gupta. The show is on till January 31.

“What’s new and experimental now will be considered old and traditional in 50 years,” says Lee about the exhibition whose theme is derived from a work entitled The Tradition of the New by Harold Rosenberg. In this work,published in 1959,the US art critic had argued in support of abstract expressionist painting.

True to its theme,the ongoing show has some very experimental creations of new media art on display. Since most of us have grown up understanding art to be synonymous with paintings,Lee points out that “new art” is a very fresh concept and emerging as a major trend in the art world. “That’s what I want to communicate with the art collectors and aficionados. These works also reflect the world we inhabit in,surrounded by gadgets,computers and experiencing other developments,” he says.

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For example,the 26-year-old Yamaguchi often combines performance,video and image elements. Her work Keitai Girl2 had her dressed up in high-tech armour made from cell phones and keyboards,highlighting methods of communication based on Internet transmission. Technology plays a crucial role in Iran-born artist Tavakolian’s work too. She has filmed the Day I became a Woman series from the point of view of both an artist and a nine-year-old girl in her combined documentary/performance approach which discusses female identity and culture in Islamic culture.

However,in some cases like the installations created by Taiwanese artists Wei-Cheng,Tsai and Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto,traditional elements have been used to express contemporary sensibilities. “I have created stone-sculpture look-alikes—which have a very antique look. But if you look closely,they talk about the intimate relationship the present-day man shares with computers,” says Wei-Cheng. Similarly,Kuswidananto’s work Java’s Machine “explores the traditions of Java”,through a mixed installation work made up of technology,musical elements and ready-made objects.

As the Asian art evolves keeping pace with the global scene,the show gives a peek into what the future is likely to be. “Most of artists featured in the exhibition are young. Their work and spirit should give an idea about the trends and changes awaiting us,” Lee says.

First published on: 15-01-2010 at 11:13:34 pm
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