The Interchanging Culture of East & West 东西方文化交汇

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Marjorie Ho
Director of East & West Art Gallery

Pioneering the exhibition of South-East Asian ceramics and textiles in Australia has brought Director and Founder Marjorie Ho through the highs and lows of advocating Asian artists. Her hard work focusing on exhibition of the finest Asian Art and antiques since 1973 bears fruit to what East and West Art Gallery is today. Boasting a wide selection of cultures from the coast of Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia to India, Indonesia and Asia Minor, some of the works they have managed to recover include textiles, furnitures, ceramics, ivy, jade and many more.

The gallery started exhibiting ceramics since its inauguration and considers it their specialty. Since then, the space has become one of the primary representatives of outstanding Asian artists worldwide and presented some of the most astounding contemporary and antique paintings, woodblock prints, sculptures, weavings and ceramics.

At a recent private interview with Essenze Australia, she shares her thoughts and opinions on the humble beginnings of the East & West Art Gallery, discovering new talent, trend in collecting ceramics and other artwork.

Where it all started
Marjorie Ho has been in Australia since 1950. After graduating with an Architecture Degree from the University of Melbourne, she went on to build her network and knowledge in culture and art and has never looked back since. Her love for Asian Art spurred the desire to start the East & West Art Gallery to promote Asian artists.

“When we first started exhibiting Asian art, it was not known to the masses. We started exhibiting Chinese paintings where most of the works were on bamboo curtains – not on paper.”

“These landscape paintings, influenced by the Song Dynasty were just ink spots and were not accepted by many. Fast forward to today, it’s all together a different story. These artists have become famous in their own rights and have made a name for themselves exhibiting in some of the largest museums in China.”

Her many years of experience discovering new art form connected her to ardent and passionate artists who not only love what they do but greatly deserves the time to build the acceptance of its audience. In retrospect as audience, we cannot claim to understand the subjectivity of their artwork while beauty and admiration is after all an instant affair.

Potential of an Artist
On the subject of purity, creation with only ink and water, and love for originality, Marjorie speaks of her discovery of Tai Chun, in the artistic ‘Dai Fa’ district of Shenzhen, China. Located within a tiny room with three walls and four paintings hanging on the walls, she instantly knew that there’s something unique in Tai Chun. Although his works portray ideas of the future, into a faraway distance, nonetheless oozes a sense of traditionalism using only ink and water on canvas – its originality and purity recreated was something that only belonged to Tai Chun that very moment.

“There’s no fix criteria [of an artist]…you cannot pin it down to that sort of thing. You have to learn the art yourself, however, do not produce it yourself if you can recognise it in somebody else.”

“We love this purity of an artist and in time, let’s say 10 years on, they may not be able to repeat this. Hence, their earlier works may be some of the most innocent and beautiful. If an artist is lucky to recognise and get it, then, there you are. It is what we call an investment.”

Ceramics & Porcelain
East & West Art Gallery defines the stereotypical gallery of exhibiting only expensive and exquisite work, going against the norm by displaying ordinary Chinese stoneware pots. The unusual shapes function more than just any conventional items and have been decorating kitchen tabletops for centuries and remain a characteristic item in the Chinese kitchen. Pieces by Ma Xiao Yao, dating back to 3,000 BC, are examples of old, fine and skillful earthenware made in fires as hot as 800 degree Celsius. However, as popular as it is among collectors, the Chinese has been fearful of such old earthenware. They continue to value a more simple monochrome type of work rather than fuller and decorative works.

Collectors’ Trend
“Glossy pieces with great colouring systems are among the favourite among Chinese collectors. Developed from the French language, the family of rose, green and black, are used for quite a few centuries. The older items from the Ming times became brighter and fuller with decorated elements, whereas there are less decoration on the Song, Yuan and Tang pieces. Some of the more special item that comes with a splash of blue or purple is a Chun piece,” commented Ho on the trend of a Chinese collector.

The realization that pieces from China were distributed all over the world after the fall of Peking and the Last Empress, has spurred an undercurrent of national movement to reclaim these artifacts. With wealth returning to the Chinese people, the determination to recover their tradition and source of inspiration has never been more significant than ever. Their presence at all auction houses from the aristocratic Sotheby’s, and Christies to the tiny villages, become a vital element in acquiring their culture back into China. The question remains as to whether these artifacts and antiques will be placed back into the public museums or in private homes.

“艺术家无固定准则…不能直接标签或定型。你本身必须学会阅读与鉴赏艺术,但是,如果能从某些人身上获得深刻认知,不一定非要自行创作。”

作为澳大利亚开拓东南亚陶瓷与纺织品展览的组织先锋,创始人兼总监何丽香(Marjorie Ho)积极以各种渠道宣扬亚洲艺术家。自1973年以来,她透过东西画廊(East and West Art Gallery)努力专注于展现最好的亚洲艺术品和古董。从亚洲端口的日本与韩国、东南亚的印度、印尼和小亚细亚的一些作品,并且设法修复包括纺织品、家具、陶瓷、藤艺、玉石和许多艺术品。

东西画廊以主要展示陶瓷艺术制品作为开端,也是他们的专长与特项。那时,这个艺术空间成为展现全球优秀亚洲艺术家代表区域之一,拥有迷人的当代与古画、版画、雕塑,编织品和陶瓷藏品。

而在《御智澳大利亚》贴身专访中,与这名艺术鉴赏者分享她的想法,关于东西画廊的始源、如何发掘艺术人才,陶瓷收藏趋势和其他艺术作品的点滴。

实践开始的地方
1950年,何丽香落脚于澳大利亚,从墨尔本大学的建筑学位毕业后,她义无反顾的持续构建艺术知识文化的网络。对亚洲艺术深沉的爱与渴望也是促使她创立东西画廊的动力。

“当我们开始展示亚洲艺术品,其实并不被大众所认知。当时并非在画纸上,而是在竹帘上展现中国绘画作品。”

“这些受宋代熏陶影响的山水画仅是以水墨点作画,受众面很小。如今,局势已大改观,这些艺术家声名大噪,作品在中国一些大型博物馆展出。”

通过多年经验,她也探索发掘众多新艺术形式且关联到具备创作力和富有激情的艺术家,他们不仅热爱工作,而且给予观众时间确认接受。其实细想,作为观众我们不能要求理解作品的主观性,美丽与赞赏毕竟是瞬间感受。

淋漓尽致的艺术
谈到水与墨纯粹充满原创风情的艺术创作,何丽香说起一次她前往中国深圳艺术区域的探索发现。那是坐落在一个小房间里,设有三面墙有四幅画挂在墙上,显现了独特内涵。虽然艺术家作品描绘未来的想法,遥远的距离,但仍然渗透着传统主义,只有简单的水与墨渲染在画布上 – 它的独创性和纯粹再现禅意的时刻。

艺术家无固定准则…不能直接标签或定型。你本身必须学会阅读与鉴赏艺术,但是,如果能从某些人身上获得深刻认知,不一定非要自行创作。”

“我们非常珍惜这些艺术家的纯净时刻,过了10年后可能无法再重现。因此,他们早期的作品可能是最纯真美丽的。如果可预先认知和掌握到类似艺术家和作品,这就是我们所说的投资。”

陶瓷和瓷器
东西画廊颠覆了一般画廊只展示昂贵和精致作品的刻板印象,同样展示了中国普通的炻器。这种器具多样化的形态超出日常用途,几个世纪以来装饰着厨房桌面,这也是中国厨房的特质。至于追溯到公元前3000年的作品,还有以800摄氏度高温的古老熟练手法炼制的陶瓷器具。然而追捧仅限多数收藏家,中国人一直避忌这种古老的陶器,比起那些丰富而有装饰性的,他们持续珍爱更简单的单色作品,。

收藏家趋势
“具备华丽色泽的文物艺术品是中国收藏家的最爱。而源自法语的玫瑰、绿与黑家族,使用了几个世纪。明代时期的文物色彩明亮,装饰元素更加丰富,而宋、元和唐朝的表面装饰较少。有一些更特殊的收藏品,闪烁着蓝紫色的是钧釉作品。“何丽香对于收藏家趋势如是评论。

在末代皇朝沦陷之后,中国的碎片散落在世界各地,这也激发了民族的回潮思绪,想办法让这些文物“认祖归宗”。而随着财富积累,中国人在重新恢复文化传统和灵感来源的决心显得倍加坚定。他们在国际拍卖行显示了强大的存在,从苏富比,佳士得至小村庄,都有中国人的身影,让文物回归中国成为重要使命。问题是,这些文物和古董是否展示在公共博物馆抑或私人住宅。

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