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Article

(b Nagoya, July 6, 1936; d New York, NY, May 18, 2010).

Japanese painter, performance artist, and film maker, active in the USA. He studied medicine and mathematics at Tokyo University (1954–8) and art at the Musashino College of Art in Tokyo, holding his first one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1958 and contributing to the Yomiuri Independent exhibitions from 1958 to 1961. In 1960 he took part in the ‘anti-art’ activities of the Neo-Dadaism Organizers in Tokyo and produced his first Happenings and a series of sculptures entitled Boxes, which consisted of amorphous lumps of cotton wads hardened in cement; many of these were put in coffin-like boxes, though one entitled Foetus was laid on a blanket. In pointing to the sickness of contemporary society, these works caused a great scandal in Tokyo.

In 1961 Arakawa settled in New York, where soon afterwards he addressed himself to the idea of a work being ‘untitled’. In taking as his subject this apparent lack of subject, he emphasized the areas of the picture surface where the subject ‘ought to be’ by means of a few well-placed coloured framing marks, as in ...

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Lee Bul  

Joan Kee

(b Yongwol, Kangwon Province, Jan 25, 1964).

Korean mixed media and performance artist. Lee studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul. Upon graduation Lee staged performance-based works in venues throughout Seoul and Tokyo during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these performances concerned the subject of the human body and deployed the strategy of masquerade to parody and hyperbolize masculine representations of women. At this time Lee also began creating sculptural installations that marked the beginning of her long-standing use of such non-traditional materials as resin, sequins, foam, and rubber. Such materials were often used for their symbolic associations as well as their formal properties.

From around 1996, Lee moved towards an exploration of the imagined body. The references that Lee drew upon became increasingly abstract, although she consistently maintained her interest in exploring the role of formal qualities, such as colour, scale, and texture, in producing meaning. Lee moved from works such as I Need You/Hydra...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b Detroit, MI, May 10, 1932; d Cairo, Egypt, June 23, 1997).

American sculptor, performance artist, and installation artist. Byars spent his formative years in Japan (1958–68) where he learnt to appreciate the ephemeral as a valued quality in art and embrace the ceremonial as a continuing mode in his life and work. He adapted the highly sensual, abstract, and symbolic practices found in Japanese Noh theatre and Shinto rituals to Western science, art, and philosophy. One of his most important works of that period is Untitled Object (Runcible) (1962–4), also known as The Performable Square, a 46 cm cube consisting of 1000 sheets of white flax paper that unfold into a 15×15 m white plane divided by 32 parallel strips connected at the top with paper hinges. It was first exhibited, folded, in 1964 at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in the centre of the museum floor, placed on a sheet of glass, but not ‘performed’ (i.e. unfolded) until 14 years later, in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Great Britain.

Born 1965, in China.

Performance artist, installation artist.

Cai Yuan immigrated to Great Britain in the 1980s, obtaining art degrees from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. He is best known for his partnership with his fellow Chinese artist and émigré Xi Jianjun (also known as JJ Xi) in the performance duo known as Mad for Real. Cai and Xi found fame in ...

Article

Cao Fei  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1978, in Guangzhou, China.

Photographer, performance artist. Video, multimedia.

Cao Fei graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, having attended middle school at the same institution four years earlier. She was a co-founder of the partnership Ou Ning + Cao Fei. Her early photography and subsequent interactive sound and video-game environments, or ‘machinima’, emerged from her initial interest in commercial advertising and electronic entertainment videos. Her works often blur reality by involving virtual cosplay figures who imitate manga superhero figures, often artist friends or youths. These performances take place in the urban environment and engage the art world with virtual economies, as well as linking to the rapid modernization and consumerism emerging within China since the turn of the century. She has become known for her ongoing experimental, animated, ethnographic documentary that engages the online world of Second Life to create the virtual RMB City. The video was first shown at the Venice Biennale (China Tracy Pavilion, ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Gu Mei  

Chinese, 20th century, female.

Born 1934, in Canton, in Suzhou.

Actress, painter, singer, draughtsman, watercolourist. Landscapes.

Koo Mei moved to Hong Kong in 1950, where she studied traditional ink painting with Zhao Shao-ang and modern ink painting with Lü Shoukun. Later she moved to Vancouver, where she lives and works. She specialises in misty, dreamlike landscapes....

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the United States and China.

Born 1955, in Shanghai.

Performance artist, installation artist. Mixed media.

Wenda studied at the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts, from which he graduated in 1976, and subsequently studied for his M.F.A. at the China Academy of Art under the renowned painter Lu Yanshao. After graduating in ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Quanzhou, Dec 8, 1957).

Chinese installation artist. Cai studied at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, completing his degree in stage design in 1985. He is best known for ephemeral, large-scale explosion-works using gunpowder—a medium he began to experiment with in China and often explained as a childhood reference to witnessing skirmishes between China and Taiwan along what was known as the Fujian Front.

In the 1980s, he applied gunpowder to canvas, which he then lit to create bold, charred designs. When Cai emigrated to Japan in 1986, he began to use gunpowder for environmental installations. Since 1989 he called these works Projects for Extraterrestrials. Cai believed that most explosions visible from space have been related to war, and that his work sends a non-violent message. A good example is The Horizon from the Pan Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14 (1994), executed off the coast of Iwaki, a small town in Japan, where Cai installed a 5000-metre trail of gunpowder in the ocean that illuminated the horizon. The work evoked the experience of living in this small fishing village, where the ocean is a central part of everyday life. Such a conceptually charged, yet rudimentary application of gunpowder, characterizes Cai’s works created in Japan....

Article

Stephen Addiss

[Uragami Hitsu; Ki Tasuku; Gyokudō, Ryosai]

(b Ikeda, Bizen Province [now Okayama Prefect.], 1745; d Kyoto, 1820).

Japanese Musician, painter, poet and calligrapher. Although he was more famous in his lifetime as a musician and little appreciated as an artist, Gyokudō has come to be considered one of Japan’s great painters in the literati painting tradition (Jap. Bunjinga or Nanga; see Japan §VI 4., (vi), (d)) and his rough, bold works are among Japan’s most powerful and individualistic artistic expressions. He belonged to the third generation of Japanese literati artists, who returned to painting in a more Sinophile, orthodox manner in contrast to the more unorthodox, Japanese approach of second-generation masters such as Ike Taiga and Yosa Buson.

He was born to a samurai-official family, and in 1752, a year after his father died, he took up the Ikeda clan duties. He received a Confucian-style education and as a youth studied the Chinese zither (qin). He was skilled both as a player and composer on this subtle instrument. The creative processes that he developed for composition, particularly with respect to asymmetry and repetition, were transferred to the calligraphy and painting of his later years. He took his art name (...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Painter, decorative artist, installation artist, performance artist. Multimedia.

Hibino Katsuhito graduated from the design division of the fine arts department of Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in 1982. He takes part in group exhibitions. He took part in the Sixth Sydney Biennial, and exhibited his work in a one-man show at Hajuku, Japan, in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1964, in Hong Kong.

Performance artist. Mixed media, multimedia.

Ho Siu Kee received a B.A. in Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1989), an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan (1995), and a Ph.D. in Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia (2003). At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ho worked closely with Cheung Yee (born 1936), a sculptor well known for his cast paper murals and geometric forms reminiscent of traditional Chinese pictograms and motifs.

Ho is especially interested in the interaction of the human body with space. This has led him to devise a number of gadgets that have the appearance of prosthetic objects. These objects are intended to destabilize the body by placing it in situations that are beyond the normal ambit of the human body. For instance, in ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Anyang, Jan 23, 1965).

Chinese performance artist, active also in the USA . Zhang studied art at Henan University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In the early 1990s he moved to Da Shan Zi (also known as Beijing’s East Village), an area on the outskirts of the city inhabited by a community of artists and itinerant workers from all over the country. Along with his peers, Zhu Ming (b 1972) and Ma Liuming (b 1969), he began to stage performances that became a central part of the activities of the artist community. Zhang is considered one of the pre-eminent performance artists of his generation in China.

In the mid-1990s, performances such as 12 Square Metres (1994), 65KG (1994) and To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain (1995) became synonymous with experimental art practice in China. In 12 Square Metres (...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active from 1975 in the USA.

Born 20 February 1937, in Tokyo.

Painter, performance artist.

Iimura moved to New York in 1975, after numerous visits. Particularly interested in video, which enabled him to associate images and language, he took part in a large number of group exhibitions: in ...

Article

Rachel K. Ward

(b Gifu, 1966).

Japanese electronic composer and sound artist, active also in France. He is best known for composing reductionist sounds of extreme frequencies, employing sine waves, electronic sounds, and white noise; these are often presented as ambient soundscapes in immersive installations made of light and/or projected visualizations of data. Ikeda originally trained in Japan as an economist. He began composing music in the 1990s, focusing on Minimalism with a curiosity for the duality of mathematics, specifically the binary patterns of 0s and 1s of digital software. His compositions continued the investigations of John Cage and Morton Feldman in exploring the potential differences between tones. Ikeda’s initial albums were +/- (1996) and 0°C (1998), which resonated with the glitch electronic scene emerging at that time. In 2000 Ikeda’s album Matrix, on the Touch label, attracted considerable attention as an interactive electronic work. Ikeda presented ten 5-minute long tones affected by the listener’s proximity. These were followed by a second series of tones made from orchestral instruments to produce overlapping sounds. The album explored time and tone and generated a wider discussion in the music industry about the relationship between sound and new media formats. Ikeda later produced the albums ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active from 1977 in France.

Born 1935, in Isé.

Painter, draughtsman, performance artist.

Imamura works in series, the most notable of which are probably Zenon and Quark. To very fluid oils he adds raw pigments. On smooth backgrounds, in opposition to transparent effects, line drawings appear, structuring the medium and producing a microcosm. In works from the mid-1990s he has shown an interest in African art, introducing figures from the sculptures of the Mumuyés, a people of northern Nigeria....

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1957, in Taegu.

Installation artist, sculptor, performance artist, video artist.

Kim Soo-ja settled in New York. She uses Korean cloth in her work, which she folds, crumples or hangs; for her the fabric has symbolic weight, one tied to the culture of her country. The cloth becomes a metaphorical relation with her body. Rolled in a bundle to form a ...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....