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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

(b Wuchang, Hubei, China, July 14, 1894; d Stockholm, Nov 7, 1958).

Swedish painter, mosaic maker and stage designer. He moved to Sweden in 1907 where he sporadically attended a painting school. In 1914 Sköld went to Copenhagen where, as well as attending the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, he saw the Expressionist and Cubist works in the Tetzen-Lund Samling. After initially being influenced by Cézanne, he experimented with Cubism, producing such works as The Changing of the Guard in Copenhagen (1917; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.) in which the figures are fragmented into a series of overlapping planes. In 1918 he also experimented with collage, producing such works as Romantic Still-life (Comte Costia) (1918; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.). In 1919 he moved to Paris and in 1922 co-founded the Phalanx group with Birger Simonsson (1883–1938). His painting at this time was executed in a stylized but essentially realistic manner, as in The Bistro (1920; Oslo, N.G.). He also painted a number of detailed architectural views, often curiously framed in the composition, as in ...

Article

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Nishiwaki, Hyōgo Prefect., 1936).

Japanese stage designer, printmaker and painter . In 1960 he went to Tokyo and began his career as a stage designer. He was responsible for the design of such avant-garde drama as the Situation Theatre (Jōkyō Gekijō) of Jūrō Kara (b 1940) and the Upper Gallery (Tenjō Sajiki) of Shūji Terayama (1935–83). He also produced prints and in 1967 exhibited works in the Word and Image exhibition at MOMA, New York. Although he used photographs as the basis of his designs, Yokoo’s prints drew upon aspects of traditional Japanese woodcuts that coincided with the style of contemporary Pop art, using in particular flat areas of colour and overtly sexual subject-matter (e.g. X-sex IV, screenprint, 1968; priv. col., see Yokoo, 1990, p. 13). In addition to his activity as a commercial designer, from the late 1960s he became interested in mysticism and psychedelic art, influenced in particular by travels in India in the 1970s. He produced posters with eclectic imagery similar to that of contemporary psychedelic ‘underground’ magazines. In ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Shanghai, 1955; d Paris, Dec 13, 2000).

Chinese installation artist, active also in France. Chen studied at Shanghai Fine Arts and Craft School until 1973 and the Shanghai Drama Institute until 1978, where he majored in stage design. Following his graduation, he became a professor at both art schools. Chen’s most representative works from this period are a series of large, grey oil paintings entitled The Flow of Qi (Qi You Tu) (1985). These works endeavoured to represent the movement of qi, or spirit, a core element of life and the cosmos in Chinese philosophy. Although not radical in form, the work with its references to ancient and traditional Chinese philosophy was a provocative political gesture given that these ideas had been suppressed during the Cultural Revolution.

When Chen moved to Paris in 1986, he enrolled at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, graduating in 1989. His installations throughout the 1990s, when he came to international prominence, nearly without exception included references to his Chinese heritage, including Daoist philosophy, Chinese domestic objects (chamber pots, furniture such as chairs and tables, Buddha statues, abaci), and traditional medicine. These references demonstrate a residual effect of his Chinese upbringing—he lived in China until he was 31—as well as a sense of displacement as an immigrant in France and an attempt to come to grips with being a contemporary artist living and working in the West, but not sharing that region’s culture, history and traditions. For Chen, the incorporation of Chinese references in his work were essential as a matter of defining who he was as an artist, while at the same time articulating the uniqueness of his experience....