Zaha Hadid

by Rena Tang in


Today was such a long, tiring day; After sleeping for about 6 hours, I kayaked in the school pool for 4 hours straight in preparation for the end-of-the-year kayaking trip to Hainan. It was my first time kayaking and it was actually so much better than I expected it to be! It was fun. But tiring. In the actual trip, we are supposed to be kayaking for 8 hours straight for about 5 or 6 days in the ocean. I just really hope that my kayak will be the one with a motor in the back.. 

After kayaking, my Korean friend, Hwang Hah, and I decided to go have early Korean dinner at 4:00pm because we were just so hungry and tired. We headed to Wangjing, which is like the korean town of Beijing. This place is where most of koreans in Beijing live, eat, and hang out; Many of the signs are written solely in Korean and the majority of the people in the restaurants and cafes are actually Korean, not Chinese. 

Anyways, after eating early dinner, my friend wanted to go home to sleep, so I went to a cafe, where I could see the newly built shopping mall called SOHO Galaxy. Last time I saw this building, it was still in the process of building so I didn't realize the project was already completed and the mall was already open for the public. Chinese workers work so fast!

Transient
Transient

The shape of this architecture is unique, especially in contrast with the surrounding buildings. The combination of the corner-less shape, smooth texture and the white colour makes the pedestrian feel like they're living in the year 2100. When I was looking at this complex through the window of the cafe, it actually felt like I was living in Steven Spielberg's film, A. I. But when I stepped out of the cafe to head home, I realized that my false impression was based on myopia- the buildings surrounding SOHO Galaxy, which I couldn't see through the window, were all old and sort of rustic and there was a strange juxtaposition between the two. The SOHO building itself is so beautiful, but I don't know if Wangjing was the perfect place to build it in. It just felt like it didn't belong there. 

Anyways, because I had some free time at the cafe, I decided to research about the architect who designed this pretty building. Zaha Hadid is an Iraqi-British architect who was the first woman to ever receive the Pritzker Architecture prize, which is also referred to as the Nobel Prize for architecture. The common trait of Hadid's artworks is the use of curves and the futuristic atmosphere it creates. The buildings she has designed all look pretty similar to the SOHO galaxy and all have the same futuristic vibe, so it's easy to spot Hadid's architecture out in the city. 

I think it's relatively easy to tell which architect designed an architecture. I feel like architects tend to each have his/her own style, and stick to it for a longer time than Fine artists do, who kind of jump around from style to style or medium to medium. (I'm so tired I don't even know how to word my thought effectively... sorry) For example, when you see a minimalist architecture made solely from concrete, you can guess that it is designed either by Tadao Ando or an architect inspired by him. I don't know.. maybe this isn't logical because artists always have their own styles, but I just feel like architects stick to their style and theme more persistently than Fine artists do. 

That's all I have to say for today.. I should go to sleep... or at least start on my homework.. 

 

 


All You Need is Love

by Rena Tang in


The spring break ended and the school started literally a week ago and this week, we have another five day break! As a student, I should be very happy about this 5-day weekend, but to be honest, I'm little concerned about how much break we have every year.. We only go to school about 180 days in a year, which is exactly about half of the year. Wow. Well, being the lazy bum that I am, I'm planning to leave all my homework to Monday night (at least I admitted it,) and just relax until Sunday. (SAT prep, essays, and college preparation... sigh)

Last night, I watched Woody Allen's To Rome with Love. The film is centered around an American student, Hayley, who meets and falls in love with a man called Michelangelo in Rome.  To be honest, I wasn't too interested in the main love story of Hayley and Michelangelo but I loved the story about an opera singer who can only sing in the shower. In the movie, when Hayley's father, a music producer, visits Rome to see Hayley, he discovers that Michelangelo's father, Giancarlo, is an amazing opera singer. Excited, Hayley's father sets up a concern for Giancarlo to perform in front of a crowd. However, because he is not used to singing in front of a crowd of people, Giancarlo gets extremely nervous and completely fails to sing the way he always does in the shower. And so guess what Hayley's dad did- He set up a transparent shower box on stage so Giancarlo can sing comfortably while he takes shower in a theater! The man is genius. The fact Woody Allen, himself, acts as Hayley's dad makes the entire thing three times as funny. 

Anyways, apart from the "shower opera" story, the entire movie was about people falling in love in Rome. When the end credit started rolling, I suddenly remembered about All You Need is Love, an amazing exhibition I visited last winter.. or last summer. Gosh, it was so long ago that I don't even remember when it was. It was displayed at the Mori art museum in Roppongi Hills Tokyo. I actually loved the exhibition- it's probably my favorite exhibition so far. I can't believe I didn't even blog about it. 

The exhibition was named All You Need is Love- from Chagall to Kusama and Hatsune Miku in English and simply "Love exhibition" in Japanese. As the title suggests, the exhibition covered a wide range (by wide, I mean, really wide) of artworks by artists including Tracy Emin, Marc Chagall, Constantin Brancusi, Taro Okamoto, Frida Kahlo, Sakvador Dali, Yayoi Kusama, Shilpa Gupta, Zhang Xiaogang, and so on. It even had the reproduction of the Genji Monogatari Emaki. The thread that pulled through and tied the artworks by all these artists of different styles and backgrounds was the theme of "Love," whether that be romantic love, maternal and paternal love, or even unrequited love.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures for this exhibition because Mori museum doesn't allow the visitors to take pictures inside the museum. Fortunately, though, I purchased the catalogue for the exhibition at the museum store, so I will be showing the pictures from the book. (I don't really know if this is allowed in terms of copyright.. but I will just say all the images are pictures of the Mori Art Museum book.) 

The exhibition was divided into five different sections: What is Love?,  A Couple in Love, Love in Losing, Family and Love and Love Beyond. Each section covers artworks of many different medium and forms, ranging from oil painting, sculptures, movies, and scrolls to installation and performance pieces. 

I remember the first thing that jumped out to me when I walked into the first section of the exhibition was the neon artwork by Tracey Emin. I didn't know the artist before, but I immediately fell in love with the "city" feel of her artwork. 

You made ME LOVE you (2010) (Picture of the book) 

You made ME LOVE you (2010) (Picture of the book) 

The neon creates a city-like atmosphere and when I look at this work, it makes me feel like I'm standing in the middle of a big city. I think the pink neon creates a very grungy, sketchy feel. On the other hand, the handwriting is so casual and the what is written seems so honest- It's like as if someone turned part of a love letter into a big street neon sign. I think this piece is visually very beautiful. If this artwork illustrates one type of Love, it would be the one between a trendy, mature yet playful couple in a big city, maybe like New York. 

Circus (2010) and Untitled (Love is something you fall into) (2013) (Picture of the book)

Circus (2010) and Untitled (Love is something you fall into) (2013) (Picture of the book)

In the same section, there were also images of two installation pieces by Barbara Kruger. The pieces were installed in the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankurt. I don't know if the two pieces are connected in anyway, but it would be interested if they were because the image of the Circus installation makes me feel like I am going to fall into the spiral of words. If love is something that I fall into, visually, it would probably be like an abyss with words and images swirling around, sucking me further and further. (Although 'abyss' is probably not the best word to use here for the negative connotation but still.) 


untitled (2010) 

untitled (2010) 

Damien Hirst's butterfly heart artwork was also displayed in one of the first sections of the exhibition. The heart was- I believe- heart-shaped canvas that has been painted over with light pink paint. On the heart are dead butterflies that are partially covered by the paint. The juxtaposition between the gruesome (hopefully fake) dead butterflies and cute pink heart is interesting. Maybe the work is trying to symbolize how love covers up all the flaws in life. Or if I'm feeling negative, it might mean that love is actually made up of something awful. But I'm sure the meaning is not that straight forward. The flat, cheesy bubblegum pink color doesn't really seem sincere though because color is just so plain and straightforward, that it makes the whole piece look like as if it's a mockery of "love". Hmm..

HIDEO, It's Me, MAMA (1983) 

HIDEO, It's Me, MAMA (1983) 

Probably the most shocking artwork in the entire exhibition was the short film by Mako Idemitsu. The film shows a day in the life of a woman in her 40's. The woman is a housewife who stays at home all day, cooking for herself and her son, Hideo. The viewers don't know where Hideo really is, but know that his mother is obsessively waiting for his return. The film shows Hideo's mother preparing a dinner alone, turning her TV on and inserting a videotape of her son eating dinner and sleeping. When it gets to the part where Hideo starts eating, his mother simultaneously sets up dinner that she prepared on the table, as if she is serving her son the dinner. She comments, "I cooked your favorite hotpot today, eat it before it gets cold." She also says, "Eat your veggies too!" as she starts eating her meal next to her son on TV. The only time when the woman looks lively is when she is talking to her son on the TV, and even then, she really is alone. Although this is an extreme case of maternal love, I could relate to the piece because it is kind of similar to how my 奶奶 (grandma) acts toward my brother. Because my grandma took care of my brother when he was small, she has a strong connection to my brother. She waits for my brother to call her  from New York through Skype and always has my brother in her mind. Although the film was created in the 1980's, I think it can signify the obsessive maternal love that is present in modern Chinese society as well. Because of the One Child policy, mothers can be too dependent on their only child, especially if it's a male child. This piece was the only piece in the exhibition that showed a negative aspect of "love" and I though it showed an interesting side of our society because we always tend to connect the idea of "love" to something positive. 

The Love exhibition was definitely my favorite exhibition I've been to so far. I will probably repeatedly come back to the works displayed at this exhibition on this blog. I can really tell that this exhibition has made a huge impression on me because it became so natural to me to compare different types of "love" I observe in my everyday life to the interesting artworks that were displayed at this exhibition. I really feel like this exhibition has affected the way I think and feel about "love". It's a good thing that I remembered to buy a catalogue at the exhibition because then I can always come back to see the artworks! 

Next in my reading/catalogue list: Nendo 

 

 


Dinh Van

by Rena Tang in


Like every other art student, I've always wondered about the answer to the centuries old question: "What is art?" I still don't know the answer. But I think it's interesting though, how noone knows what exactly art is, but everybody knows when they see a piece of artwork. Maybe, an object is a piece of art if it "feels" like art. When I go to a museum, there is a certain "feel" or atmosphere that I don't experience when I walked into, say, a furniture shop. Well... of course museums and furniture shops are two completely different places, but when you see art, it's more personal to you. 

It's also very hard to tell where the line lies between fashion and art. Maybe there is no distinction- fashion may just be wearable art. I don't know. But when I saw Dinh Van's jewelry, it "feels" like his works are closer to fine art than it is to fashion. His works are so delicate, nuanced, and so original. They are minimalistic but full of surprises at the same time. 

All the images are taken from www.dinhvan.com

All the images are taken from www.dinhvan.com

It's interesting how he combines unlikely elements with metal. My favorite is probably the square ring with two pearls in the gap. The juxtaposition between the pearl and, I think, gold is really unusual but it definitely works! The shape and the combination of the material turns pearls from classy material to something very sharp and modern. 

And It wouldn't "feel" weird if this ring was in a museum showcase. I think Dinh Van's jewelry is both art and fashion in the sense that he allows his customers to accessorize and express themselves through the things that he expresses himself through. Through jewelry, the designer sort of "passes on" and shares himself with others, and in that sense he is like an artist. 


Jean Dinh Van, an amazing designer 

Jean Dinh Van, an amazing designer