A new art venture in Taipei, a book on Japan's museums and a visit to Masterpiece London.
When William Zhang founded Beijing-based Aura Gallery in 2000 the art market in China had yet to take off. More than a decade later, not only have Beijing and Shanghai grown into important hubs for a new generation of Chinese artists and galleries, Aura has also branched out with a second home in Taipei, which opened in April. The decision to open in Taipei came quite naturally for Zhang and his partner Yaji Huang (pictured), who heads Aura’s new outpost. “I’m Taiwanese and we’ve both worked with Taiwan galleries and collectors for years. Although overshadowed by Beijing and Shanghai, the cultural environment in Taipei is thriving and in fact better established,” says Huang.
Set in the heart of Taipei’s central Da’an district, Aura showcases Chinese and Japanese contemporary artists from the 1940s up to present day. “We also represent a range of artists such as up-and-coming Chinese ink painter Tan Jun and renowned Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama,” says Huang. On show until early June are works (pictured) by emerging Chinese artist Wang Mengsha, followed by a group exhibition featuring artists such as Issei Suda. As the gallery grows, Huang hopes to expand the gallery’s stable of artists to include Taiwanese talent.
Japan boasts more than 5,000 museums, many of which celebrate fine and decorative art, paper, manga and machinery. They show a country that loves collecting, curating and laying things out to see them better and also hint at how the Japanese view history. Art historian Sophie Richard’s Art Lover’s Guide To Japanese Museums is concerned with the fine and contemporary art side.
The book spans from Kitagawa Utamaro’s late 18th century graceful (and sexy) ladies done in woodblock prints at Tokyo’s Ota Memorial museum to the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection in Yamanashi prefecture. Ota Memorial is the only place in the world devoted to the US artist and it’s as colourful a building as Haring’s work. The museums themselves are as progressive and artistic as many of the pieces; there’s much to see among Japan’s city towers and wooded hillsides. Richard’s well-written book is a tease, making you want to take a sabbatical and bullet-train around the three islands ticking places off the list.
Royal Hospital Chelsea
26 June - 2 July
A London summer can offer anything from sweltering heat to battering rain but the city’s art offerings are promising something a bit more reliable. This June, Masterpiece London is showcasing an unruly and eclectic mix of ceramics, sculpture, photography, jewellery and furniture from 160 exhibitors. The galleries in town for the week-long fair include Adrian Sassoon, A La Vieille Russie and Galerie Willy Huybrechts, representing the diversity of the offering, in which 40 per cent of exhibitors are from outside of the UK.
Alongside the fair is a curated exhibition of Philip King’s outdoor sculptures in association with Thomas Dane Gallery. King’s vibrant and wonderfully obscure pieces came to critical acclaim during the mid-1960s. “Genghis Khan”, one of his more iconic cone sculptures will feature along with previously unseen piece “High Sky Bling”, which reaches 8 metres high. Now in its fifth year, Masterpiece London has cemented its worth in drawing together galleries, patrons, curators and museum directors to focus on art, antiques and design.
“Dunstable Reel”, 1970