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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Asian Art Report from Rainy Vancouver!

After a week on the West Coast I’m back to the unusually warm April weather of Toronto! Luckily there wasn’t a typhoon like my last trip there in the Fall, but it still ended up raining everyday. Nonetheless I still got through my meetings with various Chinese Art collectors, dealers and appraisers.

The first few days were pretty busy but I still managed to visit a couple of museums along the way. At the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) was the exhibition ‘Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong Artists in Vancouver’. This show explores the cross-cultural styles of renowned Hong Kong artists who relocated to Vancouver during the 1960’s to the 1990’s.

Also at the VAG was the exhibition 'Howie Tsui: The Retainers of Anarchy'. This show features a monumental new work by the Vancouver-Hong Kong artist titled 'Retainers of Anarchy'. It is an homage to traditional Hong Kong martial arts fiction wuxia. The horizontal scene resembles a classical Chinese landscape scroll filled with moving kung-fu characters and a fortress-like apartment block reminiscent of those found in Hong Kong Kowloon during the 1970's and 1980's. The individual stories are used to describe the plight of the vulnerable against various oppressors, and it additionally echoes current societal issues.

On the more traditional side of Asian Art, numerous textiles are on display for ‘Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures’. This exhibition was at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) located in the University of British Museum. The show displays many of the amazing textiles that are typically hidden away in the museum’s storage area. Thematically, it describes the methods textiles were used for issues of religion, gender, and life/death in various cultures worldwide.

I have attached some images of the textiles from this exhibition:

A Group of Sumbanese Hingggi Kombu, Indonesia

These dyed rectangular textiles were worn by nobleman and contain interesting designs of jewelled figures and mythical beasts.

A Group of Silk Robes, Tibet

These Chinese Manchu-style court robes were worn by Tibetan officials. The robes were re-assembled from earlier robes made during the 16th to 18th Centuries.

Two Men's Robes, China

The orange robe would have been worn for Daoist ceremonies during the early 20th Century. The blue robe was made of silk gauze and depicts fierce gold thread embroidered dragons. It would have been worn by a 19th Century official during the summer months.

Two Woman's Informal Jackets, China

These were made in the early 20th Century and contain auspicious elements that expressed femininity.

Detail of a very grumpy looking Fu-lion on a rare yellow ground woman's informal jacket. Note the densely packed cloud pattern on the textile itself.

Group of Wedding Furisodes, Japan

These silk furisodes with dyed patterns were made during the Taisho Period (1912-1926). They contain many auspicious symbols representing good luck, longevity and a happy marriage.

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