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  • Mar 12, 2021

Gains and Losses: Friday News Roundup

Portrait of Tracy Puklowski, general manager of creative arts and cultural services at Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG), next to BRETT WHITELEY’s ink painting, Wave V. Photo by Angela Casey. Courtesy QVMAG, Invermay.

During the past week, some institutions have gained new artworks, some rediscovered a long-lost work, while others were ravaged by misfortunes. Here’s a look at these updates.

An ink abstraction by the late Australian artist Brett Whiteley (1939–1992) has been rediscovered during audit procedures after disappearing for decades at Tasmania’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG), according to a March 5 statement. Titled Waves V, the painting was acquired by the museum in 1976 but was never displayed or recorded since. It was not until 2018 that QVMAG staff tried to locate the work in storage, and after failing to do so, launched a police investigation. In 2019, the museum commenced a complete audit of its collection of over 1.5 million items, its first full audit since its 1891 inception, in an effort to digitize its collection. Waves V will be making its exhibition debut at the museum at the end of March, with further details yet to be released.

Portrait of (left) MOON KYUNG-WON and (right) JEON JOON-HO. Courtesy The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon / Seoul / Deoksugung / Cheongju.

On March 10, artists Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho were selected by South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) for its MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2021, which sponsors annual commissions by Korean artists. Drawing from the duo’s ongoing project NEWS FROM NOWHERE (2012– ), which was inspired by William Morris’s 1890 utopian socialist novel of the same name and first presented at Kassel’s Documenta 13, the duo will create a new installation titled Freedom Village. The MMCA exhibition, consisting of a computer-programmed installation that responds to its surroundings, is slated to open on September 3, and will propel the duo’s exploration of art’s role in a post-disaster society. MMCA Hyundai Motor Series was launched in 2014, with previous recipients including Lee Bul, Kimsooja, and Haegue Yang, among others.

Exterior view of Kaohsiung

Just past midnight on March 9, Kaohsiung’s fire department was called for a major blaze arising from Pier-2 Art Center, the city’s major public art and culture hub. While there have been no casualties and neighboring buildings have not been affected, the 1,200 square-meter exhibition space Bicycle Warehouse, where the fire erupted, has been mostly demolished. Pier-2 Art Center was previously an abandoned warehouse complex that was built in 1973, and was repurposed into an exhibition and indoor market space in 2006 by the Kaohsiung Bureau of Cultural Affairs. It is now home to over 70 independent artist studios in addition to other institutions such as the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway. The fire’s cause has not been announced.

YAMAMOTO AKIRA, Morning Calm (Asanagi) Bowl, 2011, welding with copper, silver, copper and gold alloy (shakudo), and copper and silver alloy (shibuichi), 11.4 × 19.4 cm. Copyright the artist. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on March 4 that it was gifted 18 contemporary Japanese metalworks by Tokyo-based businessman and collector Hayashi Kaoru. Each made by a different artist, the works range in techniques and forms such as cast-iron kettles and sculptural works. Of these, nine pieces are by artists recognized by the Japanese government as Living National Treasures, conferred to those certified for their craftsmanship mastery, including Katsura Morihito, Nakagawa Mamoru, and Okuyama Hōseki, among others. The newly acquired collection has been on display since March 8 in a yearlong exhibition, “Japan: A History of Style,” showcasing the Met’s recent acquisitions of over 300 objects spanning the last millennium. 

Photo of Taiwan

On March 8, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen posted on Instagram a photo of her joyous meeting with Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara at her official residence, accompanied by her pet cat Cookie, who reportedly took a special liking to the artist. Exclaiming that “Cookie and I have met Yoshitomo Nara!” in Chinese, Tsai also explained that the house visit was sparked by Nara’s self-proclamation as a fellow cat-lover. In Nara’s own photos on Twitter, he is seen cuddling the cat. Nara arrived in Taiwan on February 14, ahead of his first Taipei solo exhibition, at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts on March 12, and has spent the past two weeks in mandatory quarantine. The show’s highlight includes Miss Moonlight (2020), a large-scale acrylic painting of a girl with closed eyes.

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