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Asia's Top 10 Exhibitions to Get Excited About in 2015
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Asia's Top 10 Exhibitions to Get Excited About in 2015

Picture of Rebecca Steel
Updated: 7 October 2016
Asian countries have reacted to demand for modern and contemporary art in numerous diverse and innovative ways. Some individuals, such as Malaysia’s Choong Kam Kow, or China’s Liu Kuo-Sung, have blurred the boundaries between Western and Eastern styles, whilst masterfully retaining traditional aesthetics. From retrospectives of works by internationally celebrated artists, to group shows examining the history of art in Asia, here are ten exhibitions not to miss in 2015.
Morning at Binodo, National Museum of Philipines
Sofronio Y. Mendoza, “Morning at Binondo”, oil on canvas, artist’s collection, 1970 | Courtesy National Museum of the Philippines
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Dimasalang Artists’ Collections (1968-1978) | National Museum of the Philippines

7 November 2014 – 27 July 2015

Dimasalang is an artists’ group established in Manila in 1968, whose works feature in a new show at the National Museum of the Philippines. Set against vibrant lime green walls, the exhibition presents colourfully seductive pieces by the original Dimasalang artists, including group co-founders Sofronio Ylanan Mendoza (SYM) and Emilio Aguilar Cruz. The informal group congregated in scenic venues in Manila, capturing the beauty and vitality of their surroundings on canvas. They produced impressionist, figurative paintings that were out of keeping with the modern art popular in the 1960s and 1970s. SYM continued this traditional painting style via the formation of Dimasalang II and III, the latter a non-profit society created as a result of his relocation to Canada.

National Museum, Padre Burgos Avenue, Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines, +63 2527 1215

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Rabin Mondal | Delhi Art Gallery

22 December 2014 – 14 February 2015

Since 1993, the Delhi Art Gallery has amassed one of the world’s largest collections of 20th century Indian art, containing the works of over 400 artists. Across its venues it hosts many well-researched and historically interesting exhibitions, like this Rabin Mondal retrospective. Titled Kingdom Of Exile, it presents Mondal’s figurative paintings, displaying his trademark bold brush strokes in a notoriously dense palette of colours. Mondal’s upbringing in the impoverished, industrial town of Howrah undoubtedly influenced his portrayal of suffering, witnessed in the defiant faces of the individuals in his paintings. These powerful, expressionistic works make it hard to believe that it took decades for Mondal to be recognised as one of India’s most accomplished modern artists.

Delhi Art Gallery, 11 Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, India, +91 11 4600 5300

Jiang Zhi, "Love Letters No.4", The White Cube gallery
Jiang Zhi, “Love Letters No.4”, archival inkjet print, 180 x 135 cm, 2014 | Courtesy White Cube © Jiang Zhi
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Jiang Zhi/Shi Qing | White Cube Hong Kong

4 February – 7 March 2015

Stunning pieces by Chinese artist Jiang Zhi are being shown in the stylish gallery at White Cube Hong Kong. Exhibition The Sight demonstrates Jiang Zhi’s typically detailed exploration of the world around him. For the photographic series, Love Letters, he set fire to flowers to demonstrate the idea that beautiful things do not last forever, yet love and memories of them live on. On display at the same time is the exhibition Unsettled by experimental artist, Shi Qing. Born in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, he has lived and worked in Beijing and Shanghai, producing art that constantly evolves through photography, performance, installation and new media. Recent projects have focused on the politics of artistic production and everyday life in rapidly changing China.

White Cube Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2592 2000

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Selected Works from Yageo Foundation Collection | Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

20 December 2014 – 8 March 2015

Contemporary art from the Yageo Foundation Collection, assembled by Taiwan-based entrepreneur and collector, Pierre T.M. Chen, is part of an exciting schedule at Hiroshima MOCA. Called Guess What? Hardcore Contemporary Art’s Truly a World Treasure, the exhibition features some of the biggest names from the international art scene. It includes 75 masterpieces by the likes of Sanyu, Francis Bacon, Zao Wou-ki, Andy Warhol, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jeff Koons, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ron Mueck, Peter Doig, and Marc Quinn. Works have been arranged and displayed in themes, such as ‘Pop Art’, ‘Reality’ and ‘The sublime’. The exhibition is touring four Japanese art museums, becoming the first time that works from the Yageo Foundation can be publicly viewed together in Asia.

Hiroshima MOCA, 1-1 Hijiyama koen, Minami-ku, Hiroshima City, Japan, +81 82 264 1121

Installation view of "Guess What? Hardcore Contemporary Art’s Truly a World Treasure - Selected Works from Yageo Foundation Collection" | Courtesy Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
Installation view of “Guess What? Hardcore Contemporary Art’s Truly a World Treasure – Selected Works from Yageo Foundation Collection” | Courtesy Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
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Gu Changwei | Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai

13 December 2014 – 31 March 2015

Gu Changwei, one of China’s most famous film directors, reveals his artistic side in this unique exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MoCA Shanghai). The solo show, simply called i, unveils Changwei’s recent artworks, which have remained largely unknown to the public. Using various media, including photography and video, he prompts viewers to consider contemporary life and social values. The main theme running throughout the show is Changwei’s attitude towards money, reinforced by the repetitive use of colours and imagery derived from the 100-yuan banknote. The exhibition is curated by Kong Chang’an, who rose to prominence in the early 1990s as an art critic, crucially introducing China’s contemporary art to the West through the magazine Flash Art.

MoCA Shanghai, Gate 7, People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6327 9900

Choong Kam Kow, Blue Sky Alert, National Visual Arts Gallery
Choong Kam Kow, “Blue Sky Alert”, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm, 2010 | Courtesy Balai Seni Visual Negara
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Choong Kam Kow | National Visual Arts Gallery

18 November 2014 – 31 March 2015

Works by Malaysian-born Dr Choong Kam Kow are the subject of an inspiring retrospective at Kuala Lumpur’s National Visual Arts Gallery (Balai Seni Visual Negara). Titled Cross Culture, Trans Era, the exhibition demonstrates the artist’s fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics, simultaneously capturing the great extent of his practice since the late 1950s. Visitors can witness how Dr Choong’s style has changed through working in distinctive series each decade. Expressionist depictions of villages in oil, watercolour and ink (Kinta series, 1960-1965), have evolved into acrylic paintings of martial arts featuring silk-screened text (Kungfu series, 2005 onwards). This retrospective aptly reflects the spirit of a man who has travelled and exhibited widely, gaining prominence in academia as well as art.

Balai Seni Visual Negara, 2 Jalan Temerloh, Off Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +60 03 4025 4990

Gabriel Orozco, "La DS Cornaline", modified Citroën, 2013 | Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Gabriel Orozco, “La DS Cornaline”, modified Citroën, 2013 | Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
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Gabriel Orozco | Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

25 January – 10 May 2015

In its 20th anniversary year, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) has plenty to celebrate, including Gabriel Orozco’s first solo show in Japan. The Mexican’s long-awaited exhibition, Inner Cycles, presents imaginative works that have brought him international acclaim since the 1990s. Orozco’s creations distort the purpose of well-known items, like in “Ping-Pond Table” (1998), where he famously placed a pond in the gap between two table tennis tables. His work invites viewers to participate, thus influencing the artistic process and outcome. Visitors to MOT in 2015 will also enjoy the special collections celebrating the activity of the museum since it first opened its doors in 1995.

MOT, 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 5245 4111

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The Chinese Photobook | Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

3 April – 31 May 2015

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) presents a fascinating survey of the medium of the photobook as a means of presenting global history. With its focus on China, this exhibition covers six historical periods, including the late Empire and Republic, the Sino-Japanese War, the early years of the People’s Republic, the later Mao era, the Reform and the Opening period. The Chinese Photobook also features a selection of foreign-produced photobooks about the country, through a combination of original publications and wall-mounted material. The unique show forms part of the on-going research by British photographer Martin Parr, and is co-curated with Beijing/Amsterdam-based photographic collective WassinkLundgren. Photobook enthusiasts will also welcome the associated release of a major hardback publication by Aperture.

UCCA, 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang, Beijing, China, +86 10 5780 0200

Liu Kuo-Sung, "Free and Unrestrained", Linda Gallery
Liu Kuo-Sung, “Free and Unrestrained”, ink on paper, 84.1 x 153.9 cm, 2014 | Courtesy Linda Gallery
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Liu Kuo-Sung | Museum of Contemporary Arts

17 January – 1 March 2015

Singapore-based Museum of Contemporary Arts (MoCA@Loewen) showcases the best of the Asian art world in its colonial-era building on Loewen Road. In 2015 it acts as a destination for the travelling exhibition, Revolution/Renaissance, by Chinese Professor Liu Kuo-Sung. This show reveals the expressionistic beauty of his creations, from explorations of the relationship between the earth and moon in his “Space Paintings” (1960s), to more recent experimentations in his ‘Tibet’ and ‘Jiuzhaigou’ series. Throughout his prolific career, Liu Kuo-Sung became known for rejecting global divisions in art, often inscribing his works with a seal reading ‘Painted by a North-South-East-Westerner’. He re-invented traditional Chinese art with the Fifth Moon Painting Society and famously proceeded to pioneer modern ink techniques.

MoCA@Loewen, 27A Loewen Road, Singapore, +65 6479 6622

Giorgio Morandi | National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

20 November 2014 – 25 February 2015

Giorgio Morandi’s masterpieces are the subject of an enchanting exhibition at the Deoksugung branch of South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). The subtle works of Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), have been admired across the world for their joyful simplicity. He created this serenity through focusing on form and texture, in addition to using a deliberately restrained palette of colours. This show features his trademark still lifes of everyday objects and his landscapes devoid of humans, presented as drawings, etchings, watercolours and paintings. The exhibition, titled Dialogue with Morandi, also compares his still lifes to those produced by contemporaries in South Korea, as well as examining the influence of Morandi’s work on present day Korean artists.

MMCA, Deoksugung, 99 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 2022 0600