NEW YORK CITY — This year, the phenomenon known as Asia Week New York — when everyone who is anyone in the world of Asian art and antiques descends on New York City for a whirlwind series of lectures, gallery openings, sales, shows and receptions — celebrated its tenth year. In addition to works on view at six New York City auction houses, as well as auctions conducted more distantly in both Philadelphia and Boston, seven dealers debuted this season, bringing the total of galleries participating in the annual event to 48 dealers.
Modern and contemporary Asian art is currently enjoying popularity, and many — but not all — galleries reflect this collecting trend, but for those who prefer traditional, historic works of art, the auction houses presented breadth and depth alike. This iteration of Asia Week also saw greater representation in Japanese works of art than in previous years.
Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Doyle continue to schedule their Asian art sales to coincide with Asia Week; this was the first year Heritage Auctions was conducting sales of Asian art and antiques. Lark Mason Associates, which sells on the iGavel platform, had a small preview open for a sale that would close in mid-April.
Following are but a brief glimpse at some of the galleries participating in Asia Week 2019. One of the galleries offering traditional Chinese works of art was R.M. Chait Galleries. Representing the finest quality in form and decoration from the Kangxi period (late Seventeenth Century), a blue and white porcelain Chinese baluster vase was a highlight of the gallery’s spring exhibition. The 18-inch-tall vase shows military figures conversing on the draped terrace of a palace, with a court lady waiting nearby.
Another gallery exhibiting among the finest in traditional Chinese and Chinese export wares was London-based Cohen & Cohen, showing in Traum Safe’s Madison Avenue showroom. One of the highlights of their offerings was illustrated in The Golden Gate Collection of Chinese Export Porcelain and New Acquisitions, an important bowl from the William Martin-Hurst collection which formed the basis for George Williamson’s publication, The Book of Famille Rose. There the bowl is described as “illustrating the high-water mark of famille rose decoration.”
Findlay Galleries represents the estate of Vietnamese artist, Le Pho, and for Asia Week New York 2019 mounted an exhibition titled, “Le Pho: A Retrospective.” One of the more alluring works in the exhibition is his 1983 painting “Les Tulipes Jaunes,” Le Pho depicts a typical scene from his Findlay period, which started in 1964 and continued until his death in 2001. During this period, the artist was exclusively represented by the gallery and adopted a much brighter color palette. This oil painting features two figures at a table admiring a lush bouquet of vibrant flowers in a traditional blue and white Chinese porcelain vase.
“Alexander Gorlizki: Indian Miniatures with a Contemporary Twist” is the title of the exhibition that Cora Ginsburg, LLC has given life to. An intriguing example is “The Interview Panel,” a 2019 work by Gorlizki in pigment and gold on a vintage photograph. Other parts of the photograph have been over-painted with the very finest miniature painting techniques. Making its debut at Asia Week New York, Beijing’s INK Studio shared space at J.J. Lally, Inc, and featured the work of four contemporary ink artists who are themselves connoisseurs and collectors of art and who reference the literati of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
“The Kurma Avatar: Samudra Manthan (The Churning of the Ocean), Folio from the Gita Govinda” by the artist Manaku of Guler is one of the main highlights at Kapoor Galleries in its exhibition, “Arcane Masters: A Curated Exhibition of Indian and Himalayan Art.” In this trinity, the painter makes a statement about all the gods assembled to perform the task necessary for the recovery of Amrita, the nectar of immortality, from the depths of the ocean; likewise, the host of the demons is condensed here into three rather comic-looking demons.
In “Chinese Art: The Szekeres Collection,” the exhibition at J.J. Lally & Co., one of the highlights is a white marble sculpture of a demure young courtesan seated on an hourglass shaped stool. It is a rare and beautiful image carved in the Tang dynasty (618–907), as part of the eternal retinue for a royal burial. A gourd-shaped sake flask with its distinctive four-petal fern pattern created around 1960 is the focal point of “Tomimoto Kenkichi and His Enduring Legacy,” the exhibition presented at Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd. This diminutive masterpiece exemplifies the epitome of Tomimoto Kenkichi’s (1886–1963) oeuvre and was, in fact, this celebrated glaze-patterning that led to the artist’s designation in 1955 as Japan’s first Living National Treasure for porcelain.
A recent acquisition, and one of the highlights of “Taisho Era Screens and Scrolls,” presented by Erik Thomsen Gallery, is “Leopard” by Takeo Taruno (b 1900). The two-panel folding screen, ink, mineral colors and gold wash on paper was executed when Taruno was only 19 years old and was exhibited in the 1919 national art exhibition in Tokyo. For additional information, www.asiaweekny.com.