​RAED YASSINRaed the Sindbad, from the series “Dancing, Smoking, Kissing,” 2013, silk thread embroidery on embroidered silk cloth, 85 × 60 cm. Courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki.

Transitional Practices

Also available in:  Chinese  Arabic

In recent years, the editors at ArtAsiaPacific have noted a growing phenomenon: more and more people in the art world today are working across vastly different practices. Artists making feature films and film producers mounting curatorial projects, for instance; architects, web designers and beekeepers working as artists; and even financiers moonlighting as art critics. For the July/August issue of AAP, we look at visual artists whose practice intertwines elements of other creative disciplines—such as music, philosophy, writing, design or activism—and whose following extends beyond the confines of the art world.

Our Features begin with the many shades of gray in the career of painter Tomoo Gokita, a boho-geek and hero on the zine and indie-music scenes. Last November, AAP visited Gokita’s modest Tokyo studio as his first retrospective at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art was coming to a close. The jovial 46-year-old illustrator-turned-artist discussed his love of vintage magazines, wrestling and paint itself. He excavated some early colorful canvases from his art-school days, and compared standing before a blank canvas to facing an opponent across a ping-pong table, stating that both require intensely focused improvisation.

AAP contributing editor Michael Young delves into the life and artistic methods of Zhao Zhao, the young self-proclaimed hooligan-style artist who shot Ai Weiwei’s politically sensitive documentaries when serving as his amanuensis and has continued to cause trouble ever since. Born in Xinjiang in 1982, Zhao is one of the most industrious artists working in China today. Young reveals how Zhao’s innate radicalism shines through, whether he is stealing remnants from famous works of art—Zhao created a 35-bead necklace from basalt fragments chipped from 7000 Oaks, a public installation in Kassel, Germany, that Joseph Beuys began in 1982—or sawing ancient, stone Buddhist sculptures into slabs and reconstituting them into tidy minimalist cubes that look just right in a gallery setting.

Finally, we examine the provocative, wide-ranging practice of Raed Yassin, whose medley of media encompasses music, sound, text, installation and film. Guest contributor Stephanie Bailey examines the 36-year-old Lebanese artist’s prolific career to date, as an accomplished experimental musician and artist, whose works run from playful musical compositions accompanying food recipes published in The Raed Yassin CookSongBook (2014) to his more personal “Dancing, Smoking, Kissing” series (2013) of whimsical embroideries based on lost family photographs, which explores notions of the collective unconscious. Bailey describes Yassin’s approach as a “process of transmission . . . one that creates a framework for exchange through fixed, yet flexible, forms.”

Rounding out the Features, for our special column Inside the Burger Collection, artist, critic and educator Quddus Mirza interviews Mumbai-based artist Reena Kallat. Together they discuss Kallat’s use of quotidian materials such as salt, flowers and birds—to create messages in the sand of an Indian beach or to concoct new hybrid symbols for unifying hostile neighbors—as a way of engaging the public in questions about political issues such as national boundaries and historical truth.

Around the rest of the magazine, in Profiles, AAP contributing editor Jyoti Dhar sits down with Neha Choksi in Mumbai to discuss how existentialist concepts seep into her performances and installations. AAP Manila desk editor Marlyne Sahakian and Jennifer Baum Lagdameo meet with Filipina Patricia Perez Eustaquio, who trained as a fashion designer, but as an artist has won two prestigious Filipino art prizes, the Ateneo Art Award and the 13 Artists Award. And on the eve of his first solo show in Hong Kong, Amani Vassiliou catches up with Japan’s Yoshitomo Nara. Renowned for his manga-style paintings of mischievous dogs and children, Nara discusses how the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake focused his current artistic output on the impermanence of life. Wrapping up the section, we meet the entrepreneurial David Chau, a young Shanghai-based art enthusiast with an affinity for buying art and backing commercial art projects.

In Essays, AAP Dubai desk editor Kevin Jones offers the second installment of our three-part exploration of the United Arab Emirates’ developing cultural landscape—this time focusing on the dynamic visions of the commercial, institutional and nonprofit organizations that support artistic diversity in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Honing in on just one subject, Paul Serfaty composes an in-depth study of Hong Kong ink painter Wai Pongyu’s recent ballpoint-pen sketches based on visits to Japanese Buddhist temples, and attributes the artist’s new trajectory to a humanist search for social and religious tolerance.

For the Point, Dorsey Waxter, longtime gallerist and current president of the Art Dealers Association of America, confronts the growing trend of online art consumption—whether passively peeping or actively acquiring—arguing in favor of the need to keep looking at art up close, offline and in real time. From Beijing, independent curator and critic Feng Boyi files a Dispatch report, offering a thorny diagnosis of the market-plagued state of the city’s art scene. In One on One, conceptual Korean-American sculptor Michael Joo reminisces about his unfolding encounters over two decades with the absurdist works of Seoul-based artist Kim Beom, whose recent projects have seen him offer zany life-lessons to inanimate objects such as stones, teapots and household tools. For Where I Work, AAP contributing editor Chin-Chin Yap travels to Jeddah, where she visits the home-studio of renaissance man Ahmed Mater. A surgeon, an artist and a curator, he has helped build a homegrown arts community in Saudi Arabia. Mater’s life is just one of the remarkable stories in this issue that reveals how identity-shifting brings new life to old forms.