Printmaking was an art form that Japanese artists had excelled in the 18th and 19th centuries but which eventually experienced a decline in the 20th century. Yet, the early 20th century was a period in which Japanese arts in general underwent profound transformations with a growing familiarity with modern European art movements and modernism was certainly felt in the realm of printmaking. The shin hanga (“new prints”) movement reflects the syncretism of Western and traditional Japanese cultures as well as the influence of western codes on Japanese prints.

Art of course is often more than just art. When the National Opera of Ukraine reopened in May, defying the thud of artillery and wail of air-raid sirens, it was a political and social statement as much as an artistic one. Less dramatically, public performances of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong have for decades contributed to the formation and perpetuation of a local identity.  

Textiles have long been used by various cultures and ethnic groups to convey socio-cultural and religious messages, which in turn can also reflect the community’s identity. Hmong embroidered clothing and textiles are a rich resource not just for understanding the rich culture of the Hmong people but for  textile knowledge generally and traditional needlework techniques.

The question as to whether fashion is art or there is art in fashion has long been disputed. If so, how would one define the art of fashion? Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy, presented by The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (SFMOMA), is a companion volume to the Beijing-based couturier’s 2022 exhibition showcasing her fine talent in fashion. Held at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the exhibition of couture costumes is a blockbuster on fashion in an art museum that casts an interesting light on why fashion aesthetics is a good reason to be considered for an exhibition in museums.

In the history of Chinese migration to Southeast Asia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Chinese temples play a pivotal role in serving the spiritual and social needs of the immigrant community. Wak Hai Cheng Bio, the oldest Teochew temple in Singapore, is a rare surviving example of traditional Teochew architecture in Southeast Asia. Yeo Kang Shua’s Divine Custody: A History of Singapore’s Oldest Teochew Temple addresses the history of Wak Hai Cheng Bio, being one of Singapore’s earliest Chinese temples, as a centre with rich religious and cultural meaning as well as site of influence on the immigrant community.

Liu Ye (born 1964) has a thing about books. Since the 1990s, the Beijing-born artist has been exploring the book as a physical tangible entity as well as socio-cultural icon. Liu Ye: The Book Paintings features his meticulous, vibrant canvases which explore the charming symbiosis between the visual and literary arts through numerous paintings completed over the last three decades. Published for the event of a solo exhibition presented at David Zwirner New York in 2020, the catalogue includes the article “Reading at the Limit” by the acclaimed poet Zhu Zhu as well as an interview with the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist. 

One would hardly know there had been a pandemic in 2020 if one went by auction results in the contemporary art market. According to the 2020 Global Contemporary Art Market report, the top 10 artists by turnover sold 1530 pieces for a total of almost a half-billion US$. While down a bit from 2019, the price index has hardly budged over the last five year; the 2020 result is all the more remarkable given that international auction houses had to postpone or cancel most of their plans for spring auctions.