5 Shows Not to Miss in the Asia-Pacific in the First Half of 2024

From biennials to institutional shows, here are our picks from the region.

Architect I.M. Pei stands outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, which he designed, on October 16, 1979. (Photo by Ted Dully/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

From institutional shows to major biennials, the Asia-Pacific is a vast region that has abundant offerings in 2024 that promise to catch the eye of art and culture lovers around the world. In additional to countless exhibitions showcasing talents from the region, there’s no lack of events centering around major international names placed in an Asian context that deserve global exposure. Here are five exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific not to be missed in the new year.

“I. M. Pei: Life Is Architecture”
M+, Hong Kong
June, 2024

Architect I.M. Pei stands outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, which he designed, on October 16, 1979. (Photo by Ted Dully/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Architect I.M. Pei stands outside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, which he designed, on October 16, 1979. (Photo by Ted Dully/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The late master architect I.M. Pei left the world with a bevy of iconic creations, ranging from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington to the glass pyramid of Louvre in Paris, and yet there has not been a dedicated retrospective on the Chinese American architect—until now. Hong Kong’s M+ will stage this highly anticipated exhibition revisiting Pei’s career of over seven decades, taking a close look at some of his most celebrated projects that blend pragmatism and boldness through a modernist approach. These projects are also placed in the contemporary context through the eyes of photographers including South Ho, Naho Kubota, Lee Kuo-min, Giovanna Silva, Mohamed Somji, Tian Fangfang, and Yoneda Tomoko. The photographers have been commissioned by the institution to take a series of new photographs on the Pritzker Prize-winning legend’s architectural projects around the world.

Vivienne Chow 

“Philippe Parreno”
Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul
February 28, 2024—July 7, 2024

Philippe Parreno

Exhibition view, Philippe Parreno, “My Room Is Another Fish Bowl” (2018), Gropius Bau, Berlin. Courtesy of Leeum.

Billed as the largest show that Leeum Museum of Art has ever mounted, the solo exhibition of Philippe Parreno will be the French artist’s first major presentation in South Korea as well as the major spring event that marks the beginning of the celebration of Leeum’s 20th anniversary. Parreno is no stranger to audiences in Asia. His iconic work has been given prominent presentations at art fairs in the region and he has exhibited at institutions in Japan and China. Few details have been announced so far, but data sequencing, DMX (digital multiplex), and artificial intelligence will play key roles in what is expected to be an experiment of synesthetic exhibitions, expanding the ways of experiencing art. The Seoul institution said it will share materials and project themes with Haus der Kunst in Munich, which will be staging a solo show of Parreno afterwards.

Vivienne Chow 

“Wild Grass: Our Lives”
Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama
March 15, 2024—June 9, 2024

Yokohama Triennale 2023

Side Core. Photo: Shin Hamada. Courtesy of Yokohama Triennale.

The acclaimed Yokohama Triennale in Japan returns for an eighth edition in 2024 with an exhibition titled “Wild Grass: Our Lives.” Helmed by Chinese curators Liu Ding and Carole Yinghua Lu as joint artistic directors, the show’s title is taken from Chinese author Lu Xun (1881-1936)’s anthology “Wild Grass.” Written between 1924 and 1926, when China descended into a turbulent warlord era, this collection of 23 essays explore his personal philosophy and his struggle to move forward despite the loss of hope.

Drawing inspiration from Lu’s writing, the exhibition reflects these themes against the backdrop of the instability and contradictions of globalization in the post-pandemic era. A total of 68 artists and collectives are named in an announcement of the first round of participants, with 21 of them creating newly commissioned works. Among those are a work developed from interviews with Ukrainians living in a refugee camp in Lviv, by Ukrainian collective The Open Group, and video work by Side Core, a Japanese collective surveying the country’s street culture history. The show will take place at the Yokohama Museum of Art as well as two historical buildings, the former Daiichi Bank Yokohama Branch and BankART KAIKO at the former Yokohama Raw Silk Inspection Bureau Warehouse.

—Vivienne Chow 

“Hiroshi Sugimoto”

UCCA Beijing, Beijing

March 23, 2024—June 23, 2024

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bay of Sagami, Atami, 1997. © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy the artist.

The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art will produce 10 museum exhibitions across its Beijing and Dune (Beidaihe) venues in 2024. The year will kick off with the much-anticipated Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibition, following notable shows like “Lawrence Weiner” and “Luc Tuymans: The Past.” The Sugimoto exhibition, the first significant institutional solo display of Sugimoto’s work in China, spans his artistic journey from 1974 to the present. Featured works include key pieces from major photographic series such as “Seascapes,” “Theaters,” “Lighting Fields,” and “Portraits.” The retrospective also introduces a new series of calligraphic works, marking their first public presentation. These pieces underscore Sugimoto’s exploration of time, memory, and the dual nature of photography in documentation and invention.

Shinsoken (New Material Research Laboratory), an architectural firm co-founded by Sugimoto, will design the exhibition. Following its debut at UCCA, the exhibition is set to travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney.

—Cathy Fan

 

 

“Ten Thousand Suns,” the Biennale of Sydney 

Various venues, Sydney

March 9June 10, 2024

 

24th Biennale of Sydney Artistic Directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero at White Bay Power Station. Photo by Joshua Morris.

Get ready for “Ten Thousand Suns,” the 24th Biennale of Sydney, happening from March 9 to June 10, 2024. Celebrating its 50th birthday this year, the Biennale is bringing together 88 artists and collectives from 47 different countries. This year’s edition, under the artistic direction of Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero, aims to challenge apocalyptic narratives with a hopeful message, embracing joy and a rich tapestry of artistic expression rooted in diverse communities. The Biennale will span multiple venues across the city, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Newly added locations include the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney, UNSW Galleries, and the iconic White Bay Power Station.

Centrally focused on contemporary art, the Biennale will delve into a variety of themes, highlighting the resurgence of First Nations technologies, the history of Islam in Australia, Queer resilience, and the vibrant spirit of Carnivale. This edition is poised to be a transformative celebration, spotlighting collective resilience and joy in the face of injustice.

—Cathy Fan

 

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