Get Your Manga Here! LA Art Show Highlights Japanese Art Eileen Kinsella, Tuesday, January 6, 2015


As the LA Art Show gears up for its 20th-anniversary edition (January 15–18), fair organizers have announced a special focus on Japanese art, with an emphasis on pop surrealism and manga. This year’s outing, featuring more than 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, boasts the “largest grouping of Japanese galleries outside of Asia.” Participating dealers will offer solo exhibitions of Manga artist Hiroshi Mori, Mizuho Koyama, Masae Kato, Maiko Kitagawa, and Kaori Tamura. As in past years, the fair takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in downtown L.A.

Among the fair’s exhibitors are, from Tokyo, Tamei Gallery, Mizoe Art Gallery, Gallery Kitai, Niche Gallery, Kinoshu Kikau, Silver Shell and the Tolman Collection. Hailing from Osaka are Watanabe Fine Art and Tachibana Gallery.

On Friday, January 16, the fair will present a panel discussion on Japanese art, moderated by Matt Kennedy. It will feature four artists who are being showcased at the fair and who will talk about Japanese contemporary art and their own individual influences: Tamie Okuyama, Toshimitsu Ito, Akira Omori, and Maiko Kitigawa.

ART & DESIGN | ART REVIEW An Indian Modernist With a Global Gaze V. S. Gaitonde Retrospective at the Guggenheim By HOLLAND COTTERJAN. 1, 2015

Many Western abstract painters in the early 20th century — Albers, Kandinsky, Mondrian — were deeply influenced by Asian art and philosophy, though no one dismissed them as Orientalists. Their cosmopolitanism was a point in their favor, and proof of Modernism’s wide embrace. By contrast, if Asian artists showed signs of absorbing Western models, their work was disdained as derivative, inauthentic and evidence that Western Modernism was the only true one, the source that supplied the world.

When you visit — as I urge you to do — “V. S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life” at the Guggenheim Museum, keep this paradox in mind just long enough to see how its biases operate. Then put it aside, and give yourself over to some of the most magnetic abstract painting of any kind in New York right now. It’s by a 20th-century Indian modernist who looked westward, eastward, homeward and inward to create an intensely personalized version of transculturalism, one that has given him mythic stature in his own country and pushed him to the top of the auction charts.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924-2001) grew up in what was then Bombay and attended art school there, finishing in 1950, three years after India gained independence. This was a heady, discombobulating time for young Indian artists. On the one hand, in the spirit of liberation, they felt pressure to think and act globally. At the same time, nationalist politics demanded that they turn their attention to South Asian history and traditions. It was from these pressures, differently weighed in different hands, that a complex local modernism, already well underway, took speeded-up form.

Most artists lined up on one side or the other of the divide. Mr. Gaitonde (pronounced guy-TON-day), always interested in old art and new, strove for a synthesis. He aligned himself with a group of artists in Bombay who long admired and emulated European figures like Paul Klee and Picasso and were attuned to internationalist trends. Simultaneously, he immersed himself in a study of Hindu, Jain and Mughal miniatures dating back as far as the 11th century, carefully copying their narrative images.

One of the earliest pictures in the Guggenheim show is a 1953 Gaitonde drawing of a woman done in western Indian miniature style: The body is fully frontal, the head and feet, impossibly, in profile; arms and breasts look tacked on. To better highlight the figure’s proto-Cubistic properties, he leaves color and landscape, other traditional features of miniature painting, out. In a pastel drawing from the same year, he eliminates figures and gives us landscape alone: fully colored, but impressionistic, nearly abstract.

This exercise of copying and dissecting traditional art was, for Mr. Gaitonde, a valuable form of self-training: He learned to use color as an independent expressive element and to break representational forms down to their abstract core. In doing so, he revealed an important historical truth: Indian painting had always been, fundamentally, about abstraction, an aesthetic mode that Western Modernism often claims as its own innovation.

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The young artist’s hands-on research must have been labor intensive, though evidence of sweat work is largely missing from the show organized by Sandhini Poddar, an adjunct curator at the Guggenheim, and Amara Antilla, a curatorial assistant. A few exploratory figurative images are all the early Gaitonde we get before this survey-that-isn’t-really-a-survey leaps ahead to the full-fledged abstract painter he became.

We can guess at reasons for the editing. With images that look specifically “Indian” all but left out, we have an artist who fits smoothly into a streamlined picture of Modernism that the Guggenheim likes to project. (The museum’s 2013 exhibition “Gutai: Splendid Playground,” which too neatly lined up a familiar strain of Japanese avant-garde art with Abstract Expressionism, fit this scheme, too.) In addition, by presenting Mr. Gaitonde’s mature art shorn of an evolutionary context, the show unhelpfully enhances an air of mystery that has gathered around the artist and has made him seem like an isolated phenomenon within South Asian culture, a solitary genius.

In some ways, he was pretty much alone. Although involved in vanguard circles in Bombay, where he mentored younger artists, including the great Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990), Mr. Gaitonde gained a reputation for being reclusive after relocating to New Delhi in 1972. He traveled a bit, including to New York City in 1964 on a Rockefeller grant, though he is reported to have kept a low profile wherever he was. He attracted loyal friends, but never married and lived simply. In 1998, he announced he was giving up art, and did. By the time he died, he was already a cherished legend within the contemporary Indian art world.

In its tailored view of his career, the Guggenheim seems intent on freezing that legend. Yet even in the monumentalizing white-box display of some 40 paintings in fourth-level annex galleries, you see clear evidence of this artist’s conceptual and formal restlessness. In the early 1960s, after he had decisively left figures behind, he picked up new techniques and tools (palette knives and rollers) and began doing painting that appear to be based on different forms of writing: ancient Indian carved inscriptions, scratchy Japanese calligraphy.

A devotee of Zen Buddhism — a pan-Asian sensibility had pervaded Indian modernism since at least the early 20th century — he switched from horizontal to vertical canvases to emulate the format of Chinese and Japanese hanging scrolls, covering the surfaces with luminous mists of color punctuated by light or dark circles symbolizing, in his spiritual vocabulary, meditative silence. Spiritual content, or perhaps just a spiritualized perspective, however hard to define, was the grounding element in Mr. Gaitonde’s art, which he always referred to as nonobjective rather than abstract, implying that something specific was there even if you couldn’t see it.

What makes this later work wondrous, though, is its painterly experimentation. In a career that lasted nearly a half-century, Mr. Gaitonde kept trying out new moves. He built paint up and scraped it off. He laid it down in layer after aqueous layer, leaving stretches of drying time in between. He said himself that much of his effort as an artist was in the realm of thinking, planning, trying things out. After what appeared to be unproductive periods — he averaged only five or six paintings a year — he suddenly plunged ahead, letting accident have a hand, as he pressed bits of painted paper to canvas to make patterns, or placed paint-soaked strips of cloth on surfaces and left them there, like patches of impasto or embroidery.

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The latest painting in the show, from 1997, is like no other. Regally colored light gold on dark gold, it is based on a single graphic design — four sets of arrow-shaped lines shooting toward a central circle — that looks at once cruciform, tantric, Rorschach-like; balanced but adamant, oddly aggressive.

For a long time, Mr. Gaitonde’s reputation, which barely existed in the West, languished in India, partly because abstraction as a genre was viewed as culturally irrelevant, even un-Indian. As the South Asian market has hugely expanded, valuations have changed. What was un-Indian about Mr. Gaitonde now makes him desirably global. In December 2013 in a Christie’s auction in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), an untitled 1979 Gaitonde painting went for $3.8 million, the highest price paid for a modern Indian work. The picture, a tall panel of coruscating gold with what could be nymphs and lotuses circling a sun-yellow heart, is in the show.

Mr. Gaitonde’s triumph — an unlikely word for so recessive a figure — is also a triumph for a concept that Ms. Poddar calls, in her catalog essay, “polyphonic modernisms,” the idea that varied but comparably vital versions of Modernism have flourished at different times and different places. In this revised vision of history, certain Western claims to innovation must be reconsidered.

The art historian Hal Foster has written: “Since abstraction is primordial to the arts of several cultures, there is no question of a single origin or a first abstraction: in this sense, abstraction was found as much as it was invented.” You can discover it being found, and invented, with slow, quiet splendor, at the Guggenheim these days.

“V. S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life” continues through Feb. 11 at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street; 212-423-3500;

A version of this review appears in print on January 2, 2015, on page C23 of the New York edition with the headline: An Indian Modernist With a Global Gaze. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|SubscribeSLIDE SHOW|7 Photos ‘Painting as Process, Painting as Life’

mystery of alif – a painting based on sufi text

Zahra's Blog + Brown Lady Art Collective

Resize of mystery off alifRead only Alif, it will liberate you 
The Alif multiplied and became two. three and four
It multiplied again and became a thousand, a million, a billion.
Then it multiplied itself into an infinite number,
This mystery of Alif is wonderous!

Why do you read bundles of book?
Your head is loaded with sin;
Now you look like a handman,
And the path ahead is hard and arduous!

You become Hafiz and learn the Qur’an by heart,
You purge your tongue by reading its text,
But you fix your attention on the luxury of the world,
You mind wanders like a mad madman.

O Bullah, the seed of the banyan tree was sown,
The tree grew big,
When it died,
The same Single Seed was left over again.

Here is description:The title comes from the poem/Kaafi of Baba Bulleh Shah. Fundamentally, the poem is about the Unity og Knowledge. Here…

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Library Research Guide to Arab Comic Books and Graphic Novels

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

In September 2014, the American University in Beirut (AUB) began a new academic program focused entirely on the study, archiving, and promotion of Arab comic art. Now they have an online library guide to take you through the collection:

From From Damluji’s

In September of last year, the AUB joined the few other institutions offering degrees and supporting research on comic art. In a Fanar Media report on the new program last fall, comics researcher Nadim Damluji said that Arabic comics have become a vibrant genre.

“I think the art that has been produced post-2000 is as good if not better than similar art produced in the bigger markets of the United States, Europe and Japan,” Damluji told Fanar Media. Yet, despite this, “they are often left out of conversations of the medium in the Western academy.”

Lina Ghaibeh, the initiative’s founding director, who gave the popular talk “Propaganda in…

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An extensive calligraphy and book arts collectıon at Sabancı museum ZEYNEP ESRA KOCA ISTANBUL Published December 31, 2014

Sakıp Sabancı Museum showcases the ‘Collection of the Book Arts and Calligraphy,’ with an understanding of contemporary design and exhibition. Visitors are invited to a different museum experience that blends traditional arts with technology through interactive applications offered by animations in the exhibition halls which have been prepared using an augmented reality technique


The exhibition of the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy at Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM), which features over 200 works of well-known calligraphers and book artists from the 14th to the 20th century, consists of illuminated Qurans, prayer books, calligraphic compositions, albums and panels written by well-known calligraphers, illuminated official documents bearing the imperial cipher of the Ottoman sultans, as well as calligraphers’ tools. As the collections and archives of SSM have been transferred onto a digital platform, the rare manuscripts of Turkish and Islamic arts can be studied page by page. Visitors are able to access these applications with iPads given to them for use by the museum. SSM, which intends to bring the traditional arts into the present, includes original works of contemporary artists in its collections. In the new presentation of the collection, a calligraphic composition from 2005-2006, which makes a reference to Ahmet Oran’s writing exercises, welcomes the visitors. The 2009 production video by a renowned contemporary artists of Turkey, Kutluğ Ataman, which he created with a contemporary perspective, resembles symmetrical writing compositions of calligraphy called “aynalı.” Moreover, the catalog in Turkish and English is presented to those who want to study SSM’s “Collection of the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy” closely. Within the scope of the exhibition, the film which was shot in collaboration with Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, aims at to provide insights into the production stages of handwritten books.

A Quran copied by Abdullah Herevî in 1441-42, probably in Samarkand, and a 20-page Quran section dated circa 1440, probably copied in Bursa, are among the earliest items in the collection. Another outstanding Quran dated circa 1500 is illuminated in the palace style. An En’am-ı Şerif consisting of selected surahs from the Quran in muhakkak and nesih scripts is an example of Abdullah Amasi’s (d. after 1492) calligraphic style, which was to exert a strong influence on future Ottoman calligraphy.

From the 18th century onward, calligraphic panels called levha, designed for hanging on walls, replaced books as the main medium for Ottoman calligraphy. This new trend led to innovative writing techniques, since the scale of the lettering required for these large calligraphic panels was far larger than that used to copy books. Exhibited here are signed levhas by noted masters of this form, Mustafa Rakım, and his contemporary Mahmud Celaleddin. Sultan Mahmud II, who studied calligraphy under Mustafa Rakım, also wrote inscriptions in the magnified form of sülüs called celi sülüs. A levha by this sultan, which was the first calligraphic work purchased by Sakıp Sabancı, is exhibited here.

Works dating from the 19th century in the collection include Qurans, prayer books, kıt’as, murakka albums and levhas that demonstrate different aspects of the art of calligraphy at its finest. Qurans dating to this period were sometimes illuminated in a traditional style and sometimes in the western-influenced style known as Turkish rococo. The 19th century works in the collection also include a Quran with calligraphy by Mehmed Şevki (d. 1887), dated 1862-63 and illumination by Hüseyin; a Quran copied by Ahmed Ârif (d. 1909) and illuminated by Derviş; a Quran copied by Mehmed Hilmi (d. after 1869) and illuminated by Hüseyin Hüsnü; an En’am-ı Şerif illuminated by Seyyid Ahmed; and a collection of surahs illuminated in Turkish rococo style by Ahmed Zihnî and probably also bound by him. Richly-decorated murakkas (calligraphic albums) were produced during this period.

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum collection includes divits (cylindrical pen boxes with attached inkwells that calligraphers used to carry their writing materials around with them), paper shears, mühres (polishing stones used to give sized paper a smooth, flawless surface and polish gilding), reed pens, penknives and maktas (tablets with grooves on the top used to split the nibs of reed pens), and writing boxes in which all this equipment was stored. Notable among the latter is a writing box with landscapes painted on the inside and outside of the lid. These landscapes reflect western influence on Ottoman art that began in the 18th century, and are small-scale versions of landscapes featured in baroque style interior decoration in this period.