ON THE WALL—GUANZHOU (II) Weng Fen’s photograph is part of “Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection” at the Peabody Essex Museum
Gallery-goers with an affinity for art from Asia will have plenty of reason for excitement with a handful of enticing shows this winter. "MAHJONG: CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART FROM THE SIGG COLLECTION" at the Peabody Essex Museum (East India Square, Salem; February 21–May 17) will mark the debut of the PEM's new curator of contemporary art, Trevor Smith. The Sigg Collection includes works from several groundbreaking Chinese megastars including, among others, Ai Weiwei, Yue Minjun, Zhang Huan, Fang Lijun, and Weng Fen, famous for his stunning photographs of young schoolgirls staring out into an ever-changing Chinese landscape. LaMontagne Gallery will host the work of Japanese-born up-and-comer MISAKI KAWAI (555 E. 2nd Street, South Boston; February 21 — March 28). Her memorable installations of colorfully odd dollhouses, cartoon space ships, and suspended swarms of fabric smoke trails have been featured across the globe, including a spot in the ICA'S Momentum series in 2007. The Museum of Fine Arts will look back in time, however, for "SHOWA SOPHISTICATION: JAPAN IN THE 1930S", comprising 17 large paintings recently acquired by the museum (465 Huntington Ave, Boston; February 11–November 9). Images of affluent and fashionable Japanese citizens, on skis and in elegant teahouses, document the bourgeois affectations of a highly Westernized 1930s Tokyo.
The Tufts University Art Gallery will present "A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES: THE ART OF DINH Q. LÊ," a survey of photographic work, video, and installation by the Vietnamese-born artist best known for his trademark photo-weavings, which often combine Hollywood iconography, Vietnamese film stills, and photojournalistic images of the war in Vietnam (40R Talbot Avenue, Medford; January 22–March 29). Also on view at Tufts: "CHRISTIAN TOMASZEWSKI: HUNTING FOR PHEASANTS," an installation of works on paper and video by the Polish-born, New York-based artist (January 22–March 29). Inspired by Polish posters of the 1960s and '70s, Tomaszewski's show will include works on paper, some featuring collage, drawing, and stained glass, which advertise nonexistent films amid an array of colored panels on the perimeter walls and a snaking maze throughout the gallery.
Mexico City and the unique Mexipolitan culture it has created will be explored in "MELANIE SMITH: SPIRAL CITY & OTHER VICARIOUS PLEAURES" at the MIT List Visual Arts Center (20 Ames St, Cambridge; February 5–April 5). Curated by Cuauhtûmoc Medina, Associate Curator of Latin American Art at the Tate Gallery in London, the exhibition will follow the British-born artist's social investigation of the megalopolis, where she has lived for the last two decades. Featuring painting, photography, and video, Smith's exhibition will study the intersection of "abstract" art and the urban environment through the colors, textures, and materials found in the Mexican capital.