Between Two Worlds

by Kris Ercums, Curator of Asian Art and Global Contemporary Art, Spencer Museum of Art

last edited on Tue. May 5 2015

I was entranced the first time I saw Danse Orientale by Japanese artist Léonard Fujita. I had never seen Japanese art like this before. The painting propelled me to investigate the historical circumstances that had inspired Fujita to create this work.

Eventually, the painting served as an anchor for the exhibition Quiet Revolutions that I curated as a graduate intern at the Smart in 2005. 

Quiet Revolutions contemplated how traditional artistic culture in East Asia was transformed during the twentieth century, a process of modernization instigated in large part by increased imperialist incursions from Euro-American nations that had begun in the 19th century. Quiet Revolutions was in turn the springboard for my doctoral research, which focused on the development of Chinese modern art in the first half of the 20th century.

For my Objects and Voices micro-exhibition Between Two Worlds, I have widened the initial focus of my earlier exhibition to consider how artists born in Asia or of Asian descent developed their artistic practices, while negotiating an art world dominated by artists of European descent.

From émigré artists to Asian-American artists, this exhibition attempts to dissolve the worn-out distinctions between “east” and “west” and shine much needed light on the role of Asian artists in forging a global manifestation of visual modernity during the 20th century.

A version of this article was originally published in the gallery guide to Objects and Voices.