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Art Market

Around the galleries – New York falls head over heels for Asian art

27 January 2023

From the February 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

Asian Week New York

New York’s dealers in Asian art first banded together to stage a city-wide celebration of porcelain, paintings, bronzes and much more besides in 2009; now in its 14th edition, Asia Week New York (AWNY) is a firmly established fixture in the calendar. Twenty-six dealers – the majority local, but with some arriving from the UK, Europe and Asia – and six auction houses combine forces this year (a preview dedicated to the auction highlights will be published this month on the Apollo website). Their displays range across the continent of Asia and from antiquity to the present.  

Dancing at the New Carlton Cafe in Shanghai (1924), Yamamura Koka (Toyonari. Scholten Fine Art at Asia Week New York

For Joan Mirviss, one of the event’s co-founders, Asia Week New York has turned the city into ‘the global centre for pan-Asian art’. It’s a bold statement, though one which is supported by the quality and range of objects for sale, with dealers and auction houses each saving up their finest works for this moment in the calendar. Scholten Japanese Art presents ‘Multiple Masters: Modern Prints & Paintings’, a selection of works by Japanese artists of the 19th and 20th centuries who worked in both mediums. Katherine Martin, director of the gallery, points to a work by Kitano Tsunetomi, titled Bride (c. 1930) – ‘formerly in the collection of Patricia Salmon, an important collector and dealer of Japanese art’ – as one of the highlights.

Ceramics (c. 6th–7th century), China. Zetterquist Galleries at Asia Week New York

For Eric Zetterquist, ‘Asia Week New York was born of the necessity to present the united efforts of its members.’ Zetterquist’s own display has been half a century in the making. Mary and Cheney Cowles began buying Chinese ceramics in the 1970s, and have assembled a formidable collection, spanning the fourth to 14th centuries, with particular strengths in white and sancai Tang Dynasty earthenware. Zetterquist has worked with the couple for some 30 years. Fifty-six works from their collection are on display at his Manhattan gallery. 

A Celebration (c. 1810–20), Iran. Art Passages at Asia Week New York

Elsewhere, Art Passages offers a magnificent party scene, painted by an Iranian artist in around 1810–20, during the Qajar period, with dancers, musicians and acrobats cavorting to the delight of two lovers watching over proceedings. Sanjay Kapoor brings a metre-high sandstone sculpture of Shiva; created in Rajasthan during the 11th century, it depicts the god in his Nataraja form, in which he is said to be the keeper of the energy of the cosmos. Mirviss herself is presenting a display of works by Wada Morihiro, one of the 20th century’s great masters of ceramic surface decoration, alongside those of his contemporaries. Underscoring the co-operative approach that characterises AWNY, Mirviss also hosts an exhibition by Japanese gallery Shibankaku, which makes its debut this year. 

Kakugenki (Brilliance and Mystery Vessel; 1997), Wada Morihiro. Joan B. Mirviss Ltd at Asia Week New York

The event is around half the size of its pre-pandemic level in 2019, but dealers are sanguine about the prospects of the market today. ‘Established collectors are eager to get back to the galleries,’ Martin says, adding that Asia Week New York is an event peculiarly well-suited to cater for them: ‘Half an hour with an expert can have a tremendous influence on one’s connoisseurship.’

Asia Week New York takes place at various venues from 16–24 March.

Gallery highlights

Eugène Leroy: The Materiality of Light, Paintings 1950–1999
9 February–15 April
Michael Werner Gallery, London

The thickly impastoed canvases of Eugène Leroy (1910–2000) appear at first glance to fall squarely in the tradition of 20th-century abstraction – but, in fact, the  French painter was inspired by a huge range of art-historical sources, attempting to capture in his works what he called the ‘trace’ of painters as diverse as Giotto, Rubens, Poussin and Francis Bacon. This is his first major survey in the UK.

Mapping Landscapes
Until 18 February
Stoppenbach & Delestre, London

Spanning the 19th and 21st centuries, this show explores the various ways in which artists have attempted to respond to the natural world in their work. It traces an arc from the naturalism of plein-air painters such as Corot and Daubigny, through to the realism of Gustave Courbet, and on to the more metaphorical approaches to landscape practised by artists including Adrian Morris, Prunella Clough, Carol Rhodes and Miriam Cahn. 

Rodrigo Matheus: L’Antichambre
Until 18 March
Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris

This São Paulo-born artist, who now divides his time between Brazil and Paris, creates wondrous objects out of everyday things. Assemblages on display here include  a suitcase filled with meticulously sculpted polyurethane vessels; they are aligned so as to resemble, to some eyes, a Morandi still-life, but the title (Skyline) calls to mind other associations – not least the trompe l’oeil compositions of René Magritte. 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Until 25 February
David Zwirner, New York

At the heart of this exhibition are four untitled installations, two of which remained unrealised upon Gonzalez-Torres’ death from complications relating to AIDS in 1996. Between them, they incorporate everything from photographs to reflecting pools, billboards and candy, each demonstrating the artist’s knack for finding the sublime in the mundane. Also on view is a selection of his ‘word portraits’, comprised of text fragments.

Fairs in focus

ARCO Madrid
22–26 February
IFEMA, Madrid

More than 200 galleries arrive in the Spanish capital for this 42nd edition of the country’s largest contemporary art fair. Big-name first-time exhibitors include David Zwirner and Capitain Petzel, while galleries returning to the fair this year include Perrotin, Thaddaeus Ropac and Neugerriemschneider. Pictured (Fig. 2) is a submarine still-life by the Majorcan artist Antoni Socías, offered by Galería Rafael Ortiz from Seville.

Still-life with Running Water (2000), Antoni Socías. Galería Rafael Ortiz at ARCO Madrid

Palm Beach Show
16–21 February
Palm Beach County Convention Center

Florida’s leading art and antiques fair returns to Palm Beach for its 20th edition. Visitors to this year’s event will enter via monumental stainless-steel-and-bronze archways designed by Gino Miles; once through, they will encounter the usual eclectic array of fine and decorative arts, ranging from antiquity to the present day and from painting and sculpture to textiles, furniture, jewellery,  ceramics and more. 

From the February 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.