Taiwan Calling – Taiwanese Contemporaries in the Műcsarnok | Exhibitions to Come in 2011 | Műcsarnok: Early Fame | Ernst Museum | Ludwig Museum: Photography and its Context | Hungarian National Gallery: Autists and Classics | Museum of Fine Arts: Under Construction
Gábor Rieder: Taiwan Calling – Taiwanese Contemporaries in the Műcsarnok
Taiwanese contemporaries have conquered both major exhibition halls of Budapest: the Műcsarnok (Palace of the Arts), and Ludwig Museum. In the former’s ante-hall, painted orange for the occasion, scores of fresco-sized stickers greet visitors hungry for exotic experiences.
The stickers executed by Yang Mao-lin (a local Murakami) attempt to unite wide-ranging graphic techniques from fairy-tale illustrations to Andersen’s tales to Walt Disney, from Buddhist silk paintings to Japanese Mangas.
Alice (of Wonderland fame) dresses up to pose as Bodhasittva while Godzilla carries a Hindu goddess to the top of a highrise building – all adding up to an appetising global cartoon heaven. Without knowing the context, it is difficult indeed to tell cartoon stereotypes from insightful perennial tale topics.
Not that anything would come easy with exhibitions targeting a marked national image. Taiwanese contemporary art is far from world-famous at present even though Taiwan does try hard to get on the global map together with other Far-Eastern small tiger countries. We in Europe know precious little about it; recent Taiwanese art lacks epoch-making stars; the average Hungarian art-lover has very probably never encountered a single work of art coming from Taiwan. Not that he or she has lost too much through his/her ignorance – Taiwanese artists all speak the lingua franca of the entire global art industry originating in the Western hemisphere.
What curators can do in cases like this is merely select mostly young artists from among the sum total who can speak and apply that lingua franca while retaining some of the local accents, too.
It is invariably the local colour that can possibly perk up the uniform fare of today’s global contemporary art like an exotic spice. Take Mia Liu Wen-hsuan for example, humble ticket-collector at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, who has built up a spectacular and very Asian paper-relief from thousands of entrance-tickets collected and torn in by herself over months, a work of art that can delight us all.
Needless to say, the global contemporary lingua franca utters mostly pedestrian and commonplace grit, like the video picturing an ugly, fat American businessman making telephone calls with a faceless Chinese shoeshine boy working away at his shoes. Of course, we take in what it means to project, but in our parts we are used to more refined criticisms of the evils of imperialism. Fortunately, some more educated works are also featured, like Jao Chia-en’s countless variations on Taiwan’s national emblem, adding up to an entire history book, throwing in a Classicist dome, an M-16 shotgun, a tin-roofed shack, a banana plantation, a Mikado pheasant with a red star, a Phrygian hat, or the plastic plate-leaf of a Sushi restaurant.
The rest of the pieces are spectacular rather than educated. There are giant digital projections as well as meditative, Minimalist works. On one wall we zero in on pools of whiskey distilled at break-neck speed, on another, a disheveled metal net rotates at a snail’s pace projecting dazzling mountain peaks coming from Chinese ink-drawings. In another room, agitated sequences project the sports stadia of Asian metropolises, yet another stops time altogether presenting as it does piled-up tree-stumps and U-shaped gilded reinforced concrete elements holding out the promise of the quiet meditative wisdom of Buddhist aesthetics.
There can be no doubt, the Taiwanese are particularly good at the art last mentioned.
17 December – 13 February, 2011.
Exhibitions to Come in 2011
Műcsarnok: Early Fame
The Palace of the Arts continues to select from among cheekily young Hungarian and well-known international contemporary artists. Immediately after Taiwan Calling (see above), it will be the very youngest Hungarian generation’s turn to present its best artists, designers, and architects. In early summer, post-Surrealist Belgian Michael Borremans will be featured, only to be followed in the autumn by Parisian concept-artist Xavier Veilhan famous for his peculiar angular sculptures of animals. Near the year’s end the under-40 winners of the AVIVA Prize will present their works to be followed by the best young artists based in Cluj (Kolozsvár) who have become internationally famous over the last ten years.
Administratively belonging to the Palace of the Arts, Ernst Museum will launch US professional rolling-board artist Ed Templeton by showing his 2 000-piece collection in the early spring. The floor and the walls will be soon taken over by winners of the Derkovits grant, and then the very youngest Japanese generation of artists will give a taste of the latest Asian trends with their show entitled Micropop. Two artists of the Hungarian middle generation will also appear courtesy of József Szolnoki, a film-maker artist based in Cologne, Germany, and Ilona Németh, famed neo-conceptual artist based in Dunaszerdahely (Slovakia).
Ludwig Museum: Photography and its Context
While keeping up its profile in photography, Ludwig Museum does not neglect photography’s international context either. To give some time to the jury selecting Photographers of Tomorrow from around the world, there is a slot for a major show of hyper-realism touring Aachen, Vienna, and Budapest boasting American photo-realist painters of the 70s along with their like-minded contemporary followers from of our region. Nurturing Hungarian national pride will be the show of Yona Friedman’s city-planning work as well as a show of the expressive paintings of young New York upstart Rita Bakos (Ackermann). Wider Central-Europe will also be present owing to some masterful work by the grand old man of Croatian conceptual art Mladen Stilinovic. To delight visitors right now there are the Taiwanese contemporary painters and the vintage photographs of Martin Munkácsi in the halls overlooking the Danube River.
Hungarian National Gallery: Autists and Classics
This majestic Budapest museum continues the slow refurbishment of its somewhat outdated halls.
Thus, its yearly programme of exhibitions is rather lean. Perhaps the greatest sensation will be stirred, even if somewhat belatedly, by the wonderful classical master of Hungarian landscape painting Károly Markó Sr. In May, paintings by autist painters will hit Budapest complemented by a touring exhibition of the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts. Finally, December will see an exhibition devoted to one of the giants of the early 20th century Nagybánya Painters’ Colony Károly Ferenczy.
Museum of Fine Arts: Under Construction
This institution seems to switch into idle in 2011 owing largely to the gigantic reconstruction of the building due to start this coming summer. Sure enough, it will run a contemporary project during the summer months on nearby Városliget Lake with floating sculptures that can be approached by boat. The museum’s old masters, meanwhile, are on loan in Paris in an effort to bewitch international museum-goers there. From the autumn, though, things will return to near normal with an exhibition devoted to early 20th century Hungarian art-collector Marcell Nemes, at once the shrewdest and most generous of his trade, the person who had had a large part to play in the international re-discovery of El Greco.