Paris Goes Asian
Alexandra Fain, director and co-founder of Asia Now, fell in love with Asian art in 2010 while travelling in China. When the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted and all flights to Europe were cancelled, she was obliged to stay in Beijing for two weeks longer than planned. She spent her time visiting galleries and artist studios. Upon her return to France, she noticed that there was a major gap in the European market, especially considering the strong historic ties linking France and Asia. Thereafter, she started touring Asia, fostering relationships with local artists and curators. Through Asia Now, she aims to shed light on the vast range of artists and encourage audiences to rethink Asian contemporary art without the stereotypes usually associated with it.
Its boutique size encourages close communication among artists, galleries and collectors. Asia Now is a showcase of the diversity and vitality of the Asian art scene, from installation, video and photography to sculpture, painting and drawing. Taking place within the intimate setting of a Haussmann building in the eighth arrondissement that allowed over 13,000 visitors to wander from one room to another, the latest edition brought together over 150 well-known and young artists represented by 34 galleries (up from 18 in 2015) from more than 13 countries.
A2Z Art Gallery
Founded in 2009 by Ziwei and Anthony Phuong, A2Z Art Gallery, with spaces in Hong Kong and Paris, acts as a bridge connecting the European and Asian art scenes through its artists – mostly of Asian origin, born or living in France – who reveal the diversity and richness of a globalized society. It exhibited four artists representing the current state of Chinese contemporary art – Chen Wei, Ji Jun, Jiang Zhuyun and Zhou Yilun – and its immensely popular 44-year-old French artist of Vietnamese origin, Hom Nguyen, with his monumental charcoal on canvas pieces entitled Inner Cry. Always focusing on the human ﬁgure, he offers his reinterpretation of the celebrities of our time like Mick Jagger or Bruce Lee, or raises awareness of issues of immigration and identity through his portraits constructed of what appear to be disordered lines, but in reality are the result of skilled technical control and precision.
Tang Contemporary Art
Established by Chinese artist and businessman Zheng Lin in 1997 in Bangkok, followed by spaces in Beijing and Hong Kong, the gallery aims to initiate dialogue between artists, curators, collectors and institutions locally and internationally. Known for its successful cultivation of young artists and collectors in China, it displayed a selection of recent and new works of sculpture, painting and mixed media installations by up-and-coming Chinese artists Zhao Zhao, Cai Lei and Xu Qu, who have gained worldwide attention for tackling China’s complex socioeconomic dynamics. An eye- catching piece was the Fragments brass installation resembling a cracked mirror by 34-year-old Zhao. He is considered a signiﬁcant ﬁgure among the post-1980s generation of Chinese contemporary artists thanks to his provocative multidisciplinary practice that displays anti-authoritarian or non- conformist tendencies.
Participating for the first time at Asia Now, the Tokyo-based gallery – founded last September by Mutsumi Urano – exhibited Toshiyuki Konishi, Ishu Han and Takahiro Iwasaki. A leading ﬁgure of the Japanese contemporary art scene and recently nominated to represent Japan at Venice Biennale 2017, Iwasaki transforms everyday items such as toothbrushes, towels and books into miniature sculptures. Born in Hiroshima in 1975, his fantastical, detailed and delicate landscapes stem from his concern for the fragility of cities. His Tectonic Model depicts a crane made of glued thread attached to a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince – it’s so minuscule in size, you wonder how it was created.
Curated by Magda Danysz and commissioned by iconic French lingerie brand Etam to celebrate its centenary – 100 years during which it has supported women’s emancipation – the exhibition uniting art and philanthropy featured works based on the theme of women’s independence in a wide range of media by 13 male and female artists, which were subsequently sold at a charity auction for the Naked Heart Foundation founded by supermodel Natalia Vodianova.
Beijing-based artist Li Hongbo’s piece appeared to be a classical marble sculpture, but is actually formed from thousands of sheets of paper glued together in a honeycomb structure, then sculpted in the shape of a human bust from ancient Greece, which can be lifted up and stretched like a Slinky. Known for his Invisible Man photo-performance where he paints himself into the backdrop so that he practically disappears in an optical illusion, Liu Bolin gathered testimonies and objects from 100 women that he then used to create an installation, posed in front of it, blended in and vanished.