Illuminating the rich and diverse legacy of East Asian art, from its origins in the distant past to compelling current works, the new exhibition Immortal Present: Art and East Asia will be on view May 23 through September 7, 2015. Immortal Present will feature the Berkshire Museum’s collection of Asian art and showcase works by a number of significant and influential contemporary artists with ties to Asia.
The Berkshire Museum’s expansive collection of art from East Asia is the cornerstone of Immortal Present, and includes scroll paintings, sculptures, screens, prints, netsuke, and other fine and decorative art objects. These splendid objects range in date from circa 600 B.C.E. onwards, with many from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Captivating images depicting life in China and Japan, set against the beauty of the landscape, as well as functional objects of great beauty and exquisite craftsmanship, demonstrate the distinctive techniques utilized in East Asian art.
The exhibition includes works by more than 20 contemporary artists with ties to Asia, from sculptors and mixed media artists to painters, ceramicists, and photographers. Each artist incorporates their cultural background into their current work in unique ways, some producing work that clearly shows the resonance of their origins; others creating pieces that express ideas, even controversial ideas, about their roots, and still others are working in new and utterly original forms. The show will feature pieces by Liu Bolin, Fu Xiaotong, Hong Lei, Long-Bin Chen, Cha Jong-Rye, Nobuhito Nishigawara, and Taca Sui, among many others.
Curated by Maria Mingalone, Berkshire Museum’s director of interpretation, and Gary Smith, a noted Asian art scholar, Immortal Present will expose visitors to a wide array of art from China, Japan, Korea, and additional works from Southeast Asia. Visitors will be empowered to interpret and connect the historical material to important contemporary artistic achievements. Themes explored in the exhibition include ideas from Asia’s main spiritual traditions, humanity’s relationship with nature, fantastic animals and mythic dragons, as well as pleasures in everyday life, from love and family to beauty and entertainment.