Chinese

Rare, Remarkable Chinese Porcelains From a Prominent Collecting Couple Go Up for Auction in New York


Bonhams New York is offering a host of delicate treasures in its “Cohen & Cohen: 50 Years of Chinese Export Porcelain live auction on January 24.

On view January 18–23, the 155 lots feature an array of mostly 18th-century Chinese porcelains, including famille rose vase garnitures, rare ‘European subject dishes and figures, and large Kangxi-period famille verte and blue and white dishes, a popular style for porcelain cabinets of the time.

Vying for highest sale price is a figure of a European lady from the Qianlong period, ca. 1740, estimated to fetch between $80,000–$100,000. The famille rose standing lady appears to have been modeled after a print by Dutch artist Casper Luyken, ca. 1703. The pattern illustrates figures in 17th-century Jewish costume, allegedly worn by women in Frankfurt’s Jewish community.

“One lovely aspect of the European lady figure is that the Chinese potter,” Michael C. Hughes, Vice President & Head of Department for Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Bonhams, told Midnight Publishing Group News, “is after having copied the sculptural form and style of dress from the original Western print, he did not know the decoration to be found on the lady’s clothing. So he had simply added an entirely Chinese decoration, as you see in the cloud scrolls on the apron and the dragon roundels to the blue cape.”

A garniture of five famille rose ‘parrot-on-a-swing’ vases, Qianlong period, ca. 1740. Courtesy of Bonhams New York.

Among the highest estimates is a pair of large famille rose ‘torch bearer’ candle sconces for the European market, ca. 1740, estimated at $80,000–$120,000. The brightly colored, ornamental pieces have an enameled center with a standing figure holding a flaming torch overhead and an unlit torch lowered at the right side. It’s all within a cheerfully hued frame displaying latticework, scrolling leaf forms, and other baroque motifs, as well as open-winged parrots for extra splash, all enameled and featuring gilt highlights. 

Pair of famille rose ‘torch-bearer’ rococo candle sconces for the European market,
early Qianlong period, ca. 1740. Courtesy of Bonhams New York.

Bonhams has enjoyed a long relationship with Michael and Ewa Cohen. The Cohens count clients all over the world, from the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in Hong Kong to the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, among many others, noted Hughes. “Michael and Ewa’s philosophy was to buy as collectors rather than dealers—only buying pieces that excited them,” he said. “They had standards to what they collected and sought out exceptional quality, rarity, and historic interest…We’re honored to be a part of their story.”

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TeamLab Wins Its Lawsuit Against a Chinese Company That Replicated One of the Collective’s Immersive Art Experiences


Setting an important precedent for the copyright of experiential art in China, the immersive art sensation teamLab has won a lawsuit against a company that imitated one of the group’s signature light shows and used its name to promote it.

The Chinese company Teamlab Borderless took the Japanese art collective’s indoor, interactive, participatory, and soundtrack-free work and staged it outside in a non-participatory, non-interactive way, accompanied by music.

The court recognized TeamLab’s copyright to the work, Forest of Resonating Lamps (2016), because it displayed “originality and aesthetic significance.” The court also said that the teamLab work was widely known as a work by the collective, and was “highly prominent in the art exhibition services sector and is further widely known to the relevant public including the Chinese public.”

In addition to the aesthetic similarities between the works, the defendants exhibited their version under a strikingly similar name: TeamLab Borderless Breathing Forest Light Exhibition, which was displayed on signage and on tickets for the exhibition. 

teamLab's work alongside the work by TEAMLAB BORDERLESS. Courtesy Pace Gallery

teamLab’s work alongside the work by TEAMLAB BORDERLESS. Courtesy Pace Gallery

The case could have wider ramifications in China, where in the past local companies have prevailed against foreign ones in copyright cases. In 2020, Muji’s Chinese name was copyrighted by another brand, and the shop MiniSo offers almost identical products with near-identical branding. Another Chinese brand copyrighted the name “iPad” and successfully sued the U.S. tech giant, costing it $60 million in 2012.

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LACMA’s Game-Changing Partnership With Mega-Collector Budi Tek Will Kick Off With a Show of Contemporary Chinese Art


In 2018, Chinese-Indonesian art collector Budi Tek announced an unprecedented partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that effectively granted the museum—vis-a-vis a dedicated foundation—co-ownership of his vaunted collection of contemporary Chinese art.

Now, for the first time, a selection of art from that trove is on view at LACMA. Twenty pieces from Tek’s collection make up the new exhibition “Legacies of Exchange,” including works by Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, and Qiu Anxiong, among others.

The show “highlights works that relate to cross-cultural exchange, both recent and historical, between China and the West,” said Susanna Ferrell, LACMA’s assistant curator of Chinese Art who organized the show, in a statement.

The first of the show’s two sections brings together examples of Chinese artists in conversation with historical European paintings. In a 2006 canvas, for instance, Zhou Tiehai reimagines Jacopo Palma’s Venus and Cupid with the mascot for Camel cigarettes standing in for the Roman Goddess. In a 1997 painting, Yue Minjun recreates the central young girl in Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas as a hysterical pink man.

The second half of the exhibition, meanwhile, looks at the ways in which artists have appropriated the language of commercial advertising in their work, such as in Huang Yong Ping’s 1997 installation Da Xian: The Doomsday. The piece comprises a trio of larger-than-life porcelain bowls filled with boxes of cereal that all give the same expiration date: July 1, 1997, the day of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

Yue Minjun, <i>Infanta</i> (1997). © Yue Minjun. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Yue Minjun, Infanta (1997). © Yue Minjun. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

A prominent entrepreneur, Tek began collecting art in 2004. By 2014, he had amassed a personal collection of more than 1,000 pieces and founded a 9,000-square-foot private institution—the Yuz Museum in Shanghai—to house it all. Then came an unfortunate turn: The following year, Tek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Just as quickly as his museum opened its doors, Tek was forced to decide its long-term future. After China denied attempts to make the Yuz Museum public, Tek turned to Michael Govan, LACMA’s CEO and director, with an alternative idea. Their eventual collaboration yielded a new foundation to oversee the collection, which would live in China but otherwise travel between LACMA and the Yuz museum for temporary exhibitions.

Likewise, the foundation is governed by a board of trustees made up equally of representatives from LACMA and the Yuz Museum.

“I said to Michael Govan, ‘Now we are like a husband and wife. You don’t vote by saying I’m one percent bigger than you—you can’t outvote someone,’” Tek told Midnight Publishing Group News in 2018.

The first fruits of the partnership came in the form of “In Production: Art and the Studio System,” an exhibition of works from LACMA’s collection that brought in over 20,000 visitors to the Yuz Museum in 2019. 

See more images from “Legacies of Exchange” below.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy iof LACMA.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of LACMA.

Wang Guangyi, <i>Joseph Beuys' Dead Hare</i> (1994). © Wang Guangyi. Photo: Arnold Lee, Dijon Yellow Imaging.

Wang Guangyi, Joseph Beuys’ Dead Hare (1994). © Wang Guangyi. Photo: Arnold Lee, Dijon Yellow Imaging.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of LACMA.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of LACMA.

Qiu Anxiong, <i>The Doubter</i> 2010). © Qiu Anxiong. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Julian Wang.

Qiu Anxiong, The Doubter 2010). © Qiu Anxiong. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Julian Wang.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of LACMA.

Installation view of “Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of LACMA.

Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation” is on view now through March 13, 2022 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Chinese Artist Yu Ji Has Been on a Meteoric Rise Since the Last Venice Biennale. What Is It About Her Art That Enraptures Curators?


There is something about Yu Ji’s work—it can stop even the most seasoned, seen-it-all curator in their tracks. Now, the Shanghai-based artist is continuing her rapid ascent to art-world fame with a solo show at London’s prestigious Chisenhale Gallery, her first institutional exhibition outside of Asia.

Chisenhale is known for propelling emerging artists from Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to Hito Steyerl to international acclaim, and Yu Ji appears to be no exception. Already, her work is making its way around the globe: she is the subject of a concurrent one-person exhibition at West Bund Museum in her native Shanghai, presented in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, and will participate in the forthcoming New Museum Triennial in New York.

For the Chisenhale exhibition, titled “Wasted Mud,” Yu Ji transformed the gallery into a kind of paradoxical urban-meets-wilderness cavern. A large black hammock stretches across the space, sagging under the weight of piles of rubble gathered from construction sites in fast-gentrifying East London. A table sourced from a market in London’s Deptford area holds a sculpture of a headless form. Electronic pumps disperse plant-infused water through tubes threaded around these displays, with some of the liquid leaking onto the floor. 

Yu Ji, <i>Wasted Mud</i> (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate

Yu Ji, Wasted Mud (2021). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate

This collection of works—inspired, and in some cases drawn directly, from the show’s surroundings—is classic Yu Ji. Back in 2019, she spent three months in London as a resident of the Delfina Foundation and set aside hours to walk the streets, taking inspiration from the Thames, the city’s canals, and local flea markets.

“It was a time to really stay in the city and be with the city and not do anything for production,” Yu Ji told Midnight Publishing Group News. That experience formed the basis for her current show. 

For Yu Ji’s fans, her work offers a lesson in how to look at what’s around us. “Her work is appealing because it asks us to consider our relationship to ourselves, to each other, and to our external environment,” Aaron Cezar, the director of the Delfina Foundation, told Midnight Publishing Group News. “Rather than focusing on the tensions that often lie underneath these relationships, Yu Ji offers the possibility to explore how these connections can also be transformative. Coming out of the pandemic, I think this resonates with audiences.”

Yu Ji was born in 1985 in Shanghai, where she also received her MFA in sculpture from Fine Art College of Shanghai University in 2011. Though she was nominated for the Hugo Boss Art Prize for Emerging Asian Artists in 2017, it was her inclusion in Ralph Rugoff’s Venice Biennale in 2019 that launched her onto the global curatorial radar. Displayed across the central pavilion were sculptures from her signature “Flesh in Stone” series, in addition to a site-specific installation of resin-coated iron chains suspended from the ceiling, seemingly frozen in time and space.

Installation view, Yu Ji, Flesh in Stone–Component #3 (2017) at La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 2019. Credit: © Yu Ji, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: 李欣怡 Li Xinyi.

Installation view, Yu Ji, Flesh in Stone–Component #3 (2017) at La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 2019. Credit: © Yu Ji, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: 李欣怡 Li Xinyi.

On the heels of the biennale, during her London residency, “there was a huge interest in her work,” Cezar said. “Almost every major gallery requested studio visits!” 

Indeed, both Sadie Coles—the tastemaking London gallerist who snapped Yu Ji up after Venice, and now represents her—and Margot Norton, curator of the forthcoming New Museum Triennial, cited Venice as a critical moment. “It convinced me that we wanted to commit to representing her,” Coles said. “Great work always finds a market.”

“The work really did stick out,” Norton said. “I do think the ideas she’s exploring resonate, and the techniques she’s using are original. The work in Venice was doing something new and something I hadn’t seen before.”

Top curators and critics familiar with Yu Ji emphasize the novel nature of her use of materials and the underlying themes of connection with others. Plus, in a moment when the art market favors bright, figurative painting, Yu Ji’s work is the opposite. It’s not trying to be decorative, or clean. Instead, it seeks to directly confront tension: between the natural and urban worlds, between varying media and matter, and between the physical and the ethereal.

Yu Ji, "Inside China : L’Intérieur du géant" at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015 © Yu Ji. Courtesy Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

Yu Ji, “Inside China : L’Intérieur du géant” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015 © Yu Ji. Courtesy Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

“After a year of being wed to our screens through necessity, I think Yu Ji’s commission gives us a welcome break from a digital interface and allows us to get lost in physical material,” Chisenhale curator Ellen Greig told Midnight Publishing Group News. “Her work also explores the human body and shared space, and in that way, her work comments on how we are all connected and dependent on one another in some way; something I think is important not to forget.”

Jo-ey Tang, an artist and former curator at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, recounted an unrealized performance idea that was vetoed by the Parisian art center upon the artist’s 2014 inclusion in a group show. The proposal would have seen Yu Ji shatter a bag of cement, with the resulting dust particles continuing to linger mid-air long afterward, levitating in the space due to emissions from low-frequency speakers positioned skyward.

The concept was rejected due to safety concerns, but Tang remembers Yu Ji’s vision to “take the unconscious of the room… challenged curatorial and institutional authority.”

Yu Ji, "Inside China : L’Intérieur du géant" at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015 © Yu Ji. Courtesy Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

Yu Ji, “Inside China : L’Intérieur du géant” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015 © Yu Ji. Courtesy Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

This sentiment of pushing boundaries has long been reflected in Yu Ji’s work. Testing limits is what Yu Ji does in her art practice: the limits of the body, the limits of memory, the limits of materials, and further, the limits of what constitutes a series of works that spans years and multiple mediums and forms,” Tang said. “Ultimately, Yu Ji is asking: how does art work, how does art live in real time?” 

 

“Yu Ji: Wasted Mud” is on view through July 18 at Chisenhale Gallery in London. 

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Chinese Artist Ding Yi Finds Inspiration in Buddhist Philosophy and the Game of ‘Go’ — Watch Him Explain His Iridescent New Art Here


Since the mid-1980s, Chinese artist Ding Yi has crafted a distinctive visual language centered around crosses and grids. His often colorful abstractions consider the rise of Shanghai as a global metropolis and the radiance of the city’s neon lights. 

Right now, Timothy Taylor is presenting “Lightscapes,” a solo exhibition of Ding’s latest works featuring three paintings and six drawings. (The works are simultaneously presented in the Frieze Viewing Room.)

The paintings represent an important new development for Ding: In order to create them, the artist layered colors of paint and then cut intricate dot-like crevices into the wood with a fine blade. The resulting images give the impression of shifting, glistening lights in shades of vibrant vermilion, magenta, lime green, and acid yellow. 

Installation view "Ding Yi: Lightscapes" (2021). Courtesy of Timothy Taylor.

Installation view “Ding Yi: Lightscapes” (2021). Courtesy of Timothy Taylor.

In conjunction with the new exhibition, the artist sat with curator Alexandra Munroe for an interview. “There are systems of thought and perspective that can shake our idea of a monolithic culture, and Ding Yi’s work is critical to this conversation. It has an insight that is unique, a sublime space and an emotion beneath the abstraction,” Munroe notes.

The discussion between artist and curator is wide-ranging. They talk about the changing role of Chinese art in the global sphere, the thirty-five years he’s worked on “Appearances of Crosses,” and why his approach to painting is similar to the board game Go. 

Watch the interview between Ding and Munroe below.

“Ding Yi: Lightscapes” is on view at Timothy Taylor through June 12, 2021.

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