Sep 30 2015

Asian Art at Expo Chicago 2015

by Paul Laster

Expo Chicago, which opened to the public on September 17, returned to the Navy Pier this year with 140 exhibitors from 16 countries. The fourth edition of the fair featured five Asian galleries—Base Gallery and MA2 Gallery from Japan, Chambers Fine Art and Pearl Lam Galleries from China, and White Cube from Hong Kong—while many more domestic exhibitors featured Asian artists and those of the Asian diaspora at their stands.

Two special exhibitions—Israeli artist Nevet Yitzhak’s immersive video installation Off the Ruling Class (2015), which was commissioned and presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and “Spaces of Consumption in Everyday Life,” a multiple booth display of works by Chinese artists from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing—solidified the fair’s aim to have a cultural exchange with Asia.

“I was part of the Choose Chicago delegation that visited China earlier this year and invited the Central Academy of Fine Arts to exhibit at the fair,” Expo Chicago founder and director Tony Karman told ArtAsiaPacific during fair’s opening day. “We had Chambers Fine Art returning to the fair for a fourth time with a dynamic installation of works by Ai Weiwei. This was the third consecutive year for Base Gallery, while Pearl Lam Galleries and MA2 Gallery just joined us. We’re hoping to see even more Asian participation in the future,” said Karman. 

Chambers Fine Art’s (New York/Beijing) solo show of sculptures, photographs and editions by Ai Weiwei was highlighted by his Han Dynasty Vase in Auto Paint (2014), Grapes (2012), an assemblage of 12 antique stools and Hanging Man (Silver) (2009). Based on Ai’s 1983 photograph of a bent coat hanger in the shape of Duchamp’s famous self-portrait in profile, the latter work is made from pieces of torn paper.

On the other hand, Pearl Lam Galleries (Shanghai/Hong Kong) exhibited a cross-cultural mix—featuring American artist Jenny Holzer and Chicago-born Puerto Rican artist Carlos Rolón/Dzine, Choi Jeong Hwa and Kwang Young Chun from Korea, Australian painter Ben Quilty, British artist Antony Micallef and Italian minimalist Pino Pinelli—that included a selection of significant works by nine Chinese artists and other Asian practitioners from Hong Kong and Tibet.

Asian standouts at Western galleries included Nicky Nodjoumi’s small figurative paintings at Taymour Grahne Gallery (New York), Ori Gersht’s big, photographic interpretation of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s floral paintings, and Liat Yossifor’s monochromatic paintings at Ameringer McEnery Yohe (New York).

ArtAsiaPacific visited Expo Chicago on its opening day. Here is a look at some highlights from the Asian artists at this year’s fair.

NICKY NODJOUMI’s paintings at the booth of Taymour Grahne Gallery (New York). All photos by Paul Laster for ArtAsiaPacific.
NICKY NODJOUMI’s paintings at the booth of Taymour Grahne Gallery (New York). All photos by Paul Laster for ArtAsiaPacific.