Fall Exhibits at the Asia Society
The Asia Society on Park at 70th has three interesting exhibits. The first is “In Focus: Lakshmi”. Originally a personification of the earth and a fertility Goddess within Hindu culture, Lakshmi came to be associated with the god Vishnu and developed into the beloved goddess of good fortune, wealth, bounty and beauty. Vishnu, the savior or preserver, is compassionate, moderate and peaceful but can also be frenetic and violent. As his consort, Lakshmi embodies his power. There are Chola-period sculptures depicting the various forms Lakshmi takes. There is a beautiful Japanese Buddhist version of Lakshmi on view as well as contemporary collages by Roberto Custodio, who found inspiration in images of this Hindu deity. Together, these images represent a selection of distinctive interpretations of the goddess’ image, beauty and power as she has been venerated across time and space.
The second exhibit is Wang Dongling Ink in Motion. Wang Dongling is widely recognized as one of the most celebrated living calligraphers from China. He is best known for his large-scale compositions, which are created on the floor with oversized brushes through highly physical movements. Wang’s expressive movements create a field of abstract gestures that prioritize the formal aesthetics of his script over its legibility. Language becomes a formalistic tool rather than the primary subject in traditional calligraphy. You should see this and see why historically calligraphy has been regarded in China as the highest art form and how Dongling’s controlled chaos alters the distinction between calligraphy and painting.
The third exhibit, “Xiaoze Xie Objects of Evidence” has to do with censorship in China and how it affects books. From childhood on Xie experienced the profound power of books firsthand both within the family and outside. Memories of books that were banned are a point of departure for creating the works in this exhibition. It explores the subjectivity of censorship in relation to the shifting nature of sociopolitical and religious ideologies. Banned titles from the artist’s youth became forbidden, yet tantalizing objects that have continued to inspire Xie and have become a central aspect of his artistic practice. I think I preferred this last exhibit and was most drawn to it because of today’s political atmosphere. Go see it.
Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity agency in Manhattan. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.