Orientations is a bimonthly print magazine published in Hong Kong and distributed worldwide since 1969. It is an authoritative source of information on the many and varied aspects of the arts of East and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, from the latest scholarly research to market analysis and current news.
A digital subscription gives you access to back issues of Orientations from 2004. For a print subscription which comes with complimentary digital access, please visit our website at www.orientations.com.hk
The OCS marks its centenary this year with the exhibition ‘Collectors, Curators, Connoisseurs: A Century of The Oriental Ceramic Society’ in the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), from 15 October to 11 December. In this issue, we look at contributions to the understanding of Asian art, in particular, to Chinese ceramics as well as key personalities in the history of the OCS and significant past exhibitions.
The Asian art galleries at the Denver Art Museum, closed in 2018 as part of a revitalization program, reopened this October with a completely new design. Given the opportunity to start afresh, curators used new approaches to present their collections in keeping with the times and changing audience demands. Additionally, over the last two decades many of the donations and acquisitions have been of Chinese contemporary art. Placing the museum’s department of modern and contemporary art in charge of these pieces rather than the Asian art department has resulted in a decontextualization of Chinese contemporary art from China but a recontextualization in a global setting.
The Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore is another museum that has recently undergone extensive renovations; its collection is now organized along three curatorial themes: maritime trade, faith and belief, and materials and design. We focus on the materials and design galleries and how they make historical connections between cultures and civilizations in Asia and between Asia and the world.
Japan holds many treasures of Chinese art, the most famous works being those in the Shōsōin repository of the Tōdaiji Temple in Nara. Also, eight of the fourteen ceramic works designated as National Treasures of Japan are from China, of which five are Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) tenmoku tea bowls. Of these, one, a yuteki tenmoku or ‘oil-spotted tenmoku tea bowl’, is in the collection of The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka. We discuss the significance these tea bowls hold in the culture and history of Japan.