SPRING 2022 Editorial

Four Japanese imperial silver bonbonnières, The Nancy and Robin Markbreiter Collection

THE EYE-CATCHING cover for the Spring 2022 issue on Japanese art and antiques features a group of exquisite Japanese imperial silver bonbonnières (miniature containers for confectionery) from our personal collection, which my wife, Nancy, and I have thoroughly enjoyed building over many years. It is now my pleasure to introduce this little-known, yet fascinating, topic to Arts of Asia readers. I would sincerely like to thank Susan Tosk and David Cole, the authors, for their research and scholarly article about these historically important and beautifully crafted artworks. I would also like to thank Andrew Delano for his gorgeous photographs.

On May 8th, 2022, the Samurai Museum Berlin will open at an exciting new location in the heart of Berlin. The museum occupies 1500 square metres and houses the largest collection of authentic samurai artefacts outside Japan. Visitors to Europe’s first museum of samurai art can immerse themselves in the legendary world of these fabled Japanese warriors. More than 1000 exhibits from the Peter Janssen Collection narrate the culture and history of the samurai. Interactive multimedia installations showcase the exhibits through innovative technologies, taking visitors on a spectacular journey through time. Fascinating armour, elaborate swords and masks, as well as other outstanding objects illustrate the influence of the samurai on Japanese society. Peter Janssen, the museum’s founder, explains: “By opening my collection at the Samurai Museum Berlin to visitors of all ages and backgrounds, I want to share my enthusiasm for Japanese culture and samurai history across generations.” For this special issue on Japan, Martyna Lesniewska, Chief Curator of the Samurai Museum Berlin, has written the interesting article, “Unusual Japanese Samurai Helmets in the Shape of Animals, Objects and Plants”, featuring superb examples from the Peter Janssen Collection.

Mr Cheung Kee-wee, owner of the Huaihaitang Collection, and Dr Maria Mok, Director of the Hong Kong Museum of Art

“Appreciating and studying are more compelling than possessing and collecting.” This has always been the mantra of Mr Cheung Kee-wee, owner of the Huaihaitang Collection. The Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) is grateful to Mr Cheung for his donation of more than 120 precious Chinese artefacts, including porcelains, lacquerware, glassware, textiles and a sizeable collection of monochrome porcelains from the Qing dynasty. A discerning collector of generous spirit, Mr Cheung has gifted artworks to the museum on various occasions since 2018, with the aim of sharing these historical and cultural relics for the study and promotion of Chinese art, and inviting the public to access these rare treasures. More than eighty recently donated items are making their debut in the exhibition, “#popcolours: The Aesthetics of Hues in Antiquities from the HKMoA Collection”, being held until March 30th, 2022 at the Chinese Antiquities Gallery, 3/F, Hong Kong Museum of Art. For more information, please see the article in this issue by Hilda Mak and Amber Chan.

Bonhams, the international auction house, recently appointed Co-Chairman Malcolm Barber as CEO for Asia. Malcolm, who is based in Hong Kong, is now responsible for growing Bonhams’ business in the region as part of the company’s global strategy. In a career spanning more than forty years, Malcolm has worked in all aspects of the auction business and has conducted some of the most important auctions of fine art and classic motor cars. Malcolm’s tenure with Bonhams stretches back more than twenty years. He has previously held the post of Group Managing Director and Group CEO. In the early 2000s, Malcolm moved to the United States and over the following decade established Bonhams as a major force in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. During that period, he masterminded the successful merger between Bonhams and Butterfields, the California auction house, and secured the prime location of 580 Madison Avenue for Bonhams’ New York saleroom.

Malcolm Barber, Bonhams Co-Chairman and CEO Asia

After spending twenty years in senior management positions at Bonhams, Colin Sheaf has stepped down as Deputy Chairman. He will remain at Bonhams as a consultant, principally to source consignments and extend the client base. Colin’s artworld career spans five decades, based variously in London, New York and Hong Kong. His unparalleled contribution to the dramatic growth of the Asian art market was in pioneering and driving successful start-up auction businesses in Hong Kong for both Christie’s and Bonhams. Colin will remain actively involved in the London and Asian art worlds, continuing to chair the Sir Percival David Foundation, maintaining his long record of lecturing and writing about Chinese art, handling charity auctions, advising friends and non-profit public institutions about art-related matters and, of course, continuing as a contributing editor to Arts of Asia. I am sure readers will enjoy my interview with Colin in this issue, “Chinese Odyssey: An Auctioneer’s Retrospective 1974−2021”.

K.Y. Fine Art
The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat (born 1943), No Two Aspects of Wisdom Are Ever the Same, Hong Kong, Winter 2017, ink and watercolour on Arches paper, 52 x 57 cm

K.Y. Fine Art is delighted to present a solo exhibition of The Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat from April 5th to 10th, 2022 at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Hugh Moss, the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, is a celebrated collector, dealer in, and scholar of, Chinese art. He picked up the brush in 1980 and is now also a sophisticated, if mostly self-taught, ink painter and calligrapher, who has also benefited from his friendship with multiple artists over the decades. The exhibition will showcase sixty-eight works completed by the Master between 2008 and 2021 from the collection of K.Y. Ng, founder of K.Y. Fine Art. The exhibition title, “Through the Gates of Wonder”, originated from the Master’s belief that paintings, and the scholar’s rocks depicted, are gates through which one can reach a state of transcendence. Art lovers are cordially invited to traverse the “Gates of Wonder” and immerse themselves in the Master’s art.

Kawase Shinobu (born 1950), celadon vase

Marchant in London is pleased and honoured to announce its first contemporary art exhibition, to be held in June 2022, in almost 100 years of business. Entitled “Kawase Shinobu—Master of Celadon, A Retrospective”, the exhibition features fifty-two works by Kawase Shinobu. This is the first exhibition for the artist in Europe and also the first time outside Japan that a major retrospective of his work has been created. On display will be pieces dating from the 1970s to as recently as 2020, including a number made for special exhibitions. Kawase Shinobu hails from a distinguished lineage of artisans. His father, Kawase Chikushun II (1923−2007), was a successful potter, and his grandfather, Kawase Chikushun I (1894−1983), was awarded the title, “Living National Treasure of Japan”. Under their tutelage, he began a long apprenticeship in learning how to make ceramics. No two pieces by Kawase Shinobu are identical and he has become known for unique forms of censers, cranes and other classical wares, such as Japanese tea bowls, stoneware and ribbed vases, stem bowls and his signature pinched flower vases. Perhaps some of the most remarkable of his works are the series of exceptionally fine ewers, the vision clearly derived from bronze and ceramic bottle vases of the Sui and Tang dynasties. His love of nature, combined with ethereal celadon tonal glazes and flawless technique, makes his ceramic art a joy to see and handle, with a feeling of movement apparent in each object.

Orientations Gallery
Hattori Tadasaburo of Nagoya, late Meiji period, cloisonné enamel vase depicting dragonflies, height 35.5 cm
Oriental Treasure Box
Tokuda Yasokichi III (1933−2009), Reimei (Dawn), Kutani porcelain charger

Covid-19 restrictions in the US are generally being lifted, which is extremely good news for Asia Week New York, taking place from March 16th to 25th, 2022. Twenty-six international galleries and six auction houses will participate, in person and online. Dessa Goddard, Asia Week New York chairwoman, commented: “Everyone is excited to connect with the collectors and curators, who have made New York such a major international destination for Asian art activities.” The galleries and auction houses will present a spectacular array of treasures, including the rarest and finest examples of ceramics, jewellery, textiles, paintings, sculpture and bronzes from different Asian countries dating from 2000 years BC to the present. I wish all the participating dealers and auction houses great success, and I hope this is the beginning of a return to normalcy for the Asian art world. I am delighted to illustrate some of the highlights in this Editorial.

Orientations Gallery and Oriental Treasure Box are returning to the elegant Nippon Gallery, located on the 7th floor of the Nippon Club Tower at 145 West 57th Street. This year’s event, entitled “Revival: Tradition & Innovation in Japanese Art”, celebrates their tenth collaborative exhibition. Superior objects will be on view by accomplished and recognised artists in the field of cloisonné enamels, metalwork, ceramics, lacquer, painting, basketry, carving and textiles. Artwork themes will include birds in flight, flowers in bloom and vivid landscapes. Ritual forms related to incense and tea ceremony add deep meaning to the show.

Thomas Murray
Attush robe, Ainu People, Hokkaido, Japan,
Meiji period, elm bark fibre, cotton, trade cloth,
silk tassels, shells, appliqué, embroidery, 127 x 130 cm
Textiles of Indonesia
The Thomas Murray Collection

I am also pleased to announce the publication of Textiles of Indonesia, a truly fabulous book featuring the Thomas Murray collection of Indonesian textiles. One of the most important privately owned collections of its type, the objects comprise ritual clothing and ceremonial cloths that provide a window into the region’s cultures, rites and history. Readers will appreciate the huge amount of work that has gone into producing this impressive volume, which is an excellent resource for collectors—the large number of extraordinary textiles presented makes it possible to cross-compare in a way that would typically be possible only in a large museum exhibition. Congratulations to Thomas Murray and the expert contributors, who have done an excellent job presenting new information and extraordinary discoveries about Indonesian textiles.

Zetterquist Galleries
Longquan vase, Southern Song dynasty
Tachibana Shōun (active early 19th century), Tiger in Landscape, hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, 169 x 94.8 cm
Sebastian Izzard LLC Asian Art
Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn Moon on the Tama River, 1837/1838, colour woodblock print, 26 x 37.8 cm

Finally, my superb team and I look forward to producing beautiful Arts of Asia issues throughout 2022. We have exciting content planned, which will be available to readers in both hard copy or digitally online. The Year of the Tiger brings vitality, strength and the courage to start anew. We wish all our readers and friends a very happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Tiger.

Please click here to view the contents of this issue.

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