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Beauty and the East

Boston-area art spaces look to Asia this winter
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  December 29, 2008

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.

The Institute of Contemporary Art will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the "Obey Giant" campaign by tagging their gallery walls with "SHEPARD FAIREY: SUPPLY & DEMAND" (100 Northern Ave, Boston; February 6–August 16), the first museum survey of the world's most notorious wheat-paster and guerilla street artist (now famous for his iconic "Obama Hope" poster of the candidate-turned-President-elect). Featuring more than 80 works, and looking back more than 20 years, the exhibition will include a mural commissioned for the show, and Fairey himself will be creating public art works throughout the city. The ICA's ongoing series of new developments in contemporary art continues with "MOMENTUM 13: EILEEN QUINLAN," the first solo museum exhibition of the Boston-born photographer and her unique prismatic abstractions (March 18–July 12). It will be joined by "ACTING OUT: NEW SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS IN VIDEO" (March 18–October 18), which will feature work by Javier Tûllez, Phil Collins (no, not that one), and Artur Zmijewski, among others. Each work documents a "new form of social portraiture" through the activities of casual participants who unknowingly reveal the multifarious characteristics of social relationships.

As part of the biennial Boston Cyberarts Festival (opening in April) "SYNTAX," at BU's Photographic Resource Center (832 Comm Ave, Boston; March 27–May 10), will present new media artists and photographers whose work deals with digital language or syntax. With an impressive set of artists, including Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, and Richard Serra, "OPENING LINES" at the New Art Center (61 Washington Park, Newton; January 12–February 22) is sure to impress. Curated by Susan Goldwitz, featured works examine the use of line in modern and contemporary art.

Lines of equal splendor and detail, but those that form images of a far more crude nature, will be on hand for "R. CRUMB'S UNDERGROUND," an exhibition of work by the cult comic book author/illustrator/sex hound/jazz enthusiast/social satirist at Mass College of Art (621 Huntington Ave, Boston; February 2–March 3). The show is a survey of work from his eccentric and uncensored oeuvre made over the last 40 years, including old and new collaborations with other artists (including his wife, Aline Kominsky-Crumb) and the debut of his "spool" drawings. Also on view this season at Mass Art will be "FIGURATIVELY SEEING," a group show of artists attempting to redefine figurative painting and portraiture (January 21–March 3).

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Related: Maritime after time, Great walls, Peabody rising, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES: THE ART OF DINH Q. LÊ, Agnes Martin, Artur Zmijewski,  More more >
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