When the annual International Asian Art Fair in New York closed permanently after its 2009 run, sixteen dealers based on Manhattan’s Upper East Side came together to find a way to continue to celebrate Asian art in the city each year. Asia Week New York was born. What began as a few coordinated exhibitions has grown into a major annual showcase by leading Asian art dealers, auction houses, and museums. Though contemporary Asian art has a prominent place at the forum, historical works of art and design have remained the top draw for visitors since Asia Week’s inception.
Asia Week 2020 runs from March 12 through March 19, and the days are chock-full of exhibitions, lectures, parties, and more. “The experience and knowledge that we collectively represent is the most important part of what we have to offer,” says Katherine Martin, chairperson of Asia Week. After eleven years, Asia Week’s educational mission remains paramount, however the commercial landscape has become markedly different.
While increased US tariffs on Chinese imports have deterred some past participants from taking part in this year’s event—the number of Chinese dealers has dropped from fourteen in 2019 to six this year—Japanese dealers are more abundant than ever with 13 participants. COVID-19 is forcing another significant change this year: the majority of the auctions scheduled for this March have been postponed until the end of June. With those sales delayed, attendees are focusing on galleries more than ever.
“We have had some participants decline to join us this year,” acknowledges Lark Mason, founder of Lark Mason Associates, “But many others have enthusiastically stepped up and are joining, so the net effect will be more variety and opportunities for collectors.”
With 36 excellent galleries to visit during Asia Week, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. We’re here to help with a selective guide to this year’s participants. Namaste.
Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art
Several exhibitions this year feature rare Indian and Persian paintings. Some exquisite examples can be found at Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch and at Prahlad Bubbar. The latter gallery is offering Portrait of the Emperor Shah Jahan—a stand out example of Mughal art. Thomas Murray, a newcomer to Asia Week, has created some exciting buzz with his unique specialization in Asian ethnographic art. For jewelry lovers, Susan Ollemans’ pieces promise to be both dazzling and distinctive.
Court Paintings from India and Persia at Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd. (England) – Exhibiting at Victoria Munroe Fine Art
Nature Observed and Imagined: The Mughal and Deccani Traditions at Prahlad Bubbar (England) – Exhibiting at Jill Newhouse Gallery
Rarities: The Himalayas to Hawaii at Thomas Murray (England) – Exhibiting at Arader Galleries
Jewels of Asia at Susan Ollemans (England) – Exhibiting at Gallery Vallois America
J.J. Lally & Co. never fails to produce incredible exhibitions, and this year’s Elegantly Made: Art for the Chinese Literati is no exception. The show boasts a variety of visually and technically impressive works in jade, porcelain, lacquer and other fine materials. Remarkable porcelain can also be found at Ralph M. Chait Galleries, where according to the gallery’s director, Steven Chait, highlights include a beautiful Imperial Yellow Daoguang period Bowl, and a very rare Yongzheng Imperial Saucer Dish with Immortal decoration.
ELEGANTLY MADE: Art for the Chinese Literati at J.J. Lally & Co. (United States)
Spring Exhibition of Chinese Porcelain and Works of Art at Ralph M. Chait Galleries, Inc. (United States)
As usual, there will be no shortage of extraordinary Japanese woodblock prints on display at Asia Week. According to dealer Joan Mirviss, her gallery’s exhibition from the collection of George Crawford offers “superb impressions that have not been on the market or seen for decades.” Similarly, Katherine Martin says her gallery, Scholten Japanese Art, will feature “almost an embarrassment of riches,” including Kitagawa Utamaro’s Seven Women: Applying Makeup Before a Mirror. For a comprehensive curation of classical Japanese works, look to presentations by galleries Giuseppe Piva and Carole Davenport, which include pieces ranging from samurai armor to Shinto-related sculptures.
SHINTO REDUX: Kami || Shin-magatama by Hiroyuki Asano at Carole Davenport (United States) – Exhibiting at 22 East 80th Street
Japanese Art and Antiques at Giuseppe Piva (Italy) – Exhibiting at Adam Williams Fine Art
Ukiyo-e from the Collection of George Crawford at Joan B Mirviss LTD (United States)
The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e at Scholten Japanese Art (United States)
Visitors can expect to see a combination of contemporary and antique art at many of Asia Week’s venues, a notable trend this year. A perfect example of this eclecticism is Kang Collection Korean Art’s exhibition, which brings together older ceramics and works on paper with new drawings and mixed-media works.