Trees aren’t always just trees

There were some kind of cypress (I think) trees near our home in south India that looked like guests at a cocktail party, one limb reaching out for a drink, another curling back as though to bring a cigarette to the lips.  Maybe that's why I get such a kick looking at the inventive depiction … Continue reading Trees aren’t always just trees

Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries

The Japanese galleries at the Met are like a bride -- they always have something old, something new, and no doubt if you look hard enough you'll spot something blue.  This summer, bamboo art is the overarching theme, starting with "The Gate," an amazing construct that artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV created for the entrance to … Continue reading Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries

Layers of invention

There is much deception uncovered in the Sackler's "Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered.”  There is the question of whether the show's three central paintings are really by Kitagawa Utamaro, famous mostly for his ukiyo-e prints.  For that matter, was Utamaro himself the 17th-century Don Juan of the pleasure quarters that his marketers made him out to be?  And, … Continue reading Layers of invention

More about the Qin and the Han

Two shows could not be more complimentary in tone and emphasis than the Asian Art Museum's "Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty" and the Met's "Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties."  I won't repeat what I said in WSJ reviews (here and here) but instead talk about a few … Continue reading More about the Qin and the Han

Peeking at Life through Death

Jade amulets, bronze vessels, dancing figures, accessories -- we've come to expect that from ancient tombs in China.  But sex aides and toilets?  That was a first for me, though I will admit not the most fascinating part of the Asian Art Museum's "Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty"  (you can read my review … Continue reading Peeking at Life through Death

One of many treats of Asia week

Such a delight to see works by one of my favorite painters, An Ho, alongside a painting (on the right) by her teacher Pu Ru, one the last scholar artists of China.  There is also a marvelous hanging scroll of a tiger that Pu Ru and An Ho painted together. China 2000 Fine Art is showing some of An Ho's … Continue reading One of many treats of Asia week

An otherworldly experience

Human figures amid swirling geometrics.  Shields and spears and a looping tail whip.  Crouched men and women staring into -- and from -- eternity.  Colorful bursts of patterns conjuring at once life's unbridled power and our fear-based need to appease and control it.  Empty masks and the steadying touch of a woman's hand on a man's shoulder. My mind was spinning at "East … Continue reading An otherworldly experience

Some 20 years ago when we visited a temple in South India, a brahmin led us into a small side shrine with a large statue of Shiva as Nataraja.  The only light was the oil lamp he carried with a single flame.  Anyone familiar with 'aarthi' will know what I mean.  Basically, the priest draws circles … Continue reading

Peering inside Myanmar’s earliest stupas

This time-worn cover of a relic chamber is another mesmerizing work on display At the Met in "Lost Kingdoms."   It was found inside a stupa at Sri Ksetra, a 1,500-year old site we visited in 2012.  It is in ruinous state, so much so the World Monuments Fund added it to its endangered list.  But it has … Continue reading Peering inside Myanmar’s earliest stupas