“Conversations: Past and Present in Asia and America” is on exhibit through June 12 at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin.
It includes works by artists from China, Japan, Korea, the United States, Vietnam, and Canada, bridging wide temporal and cultural distances as contemporary artists relate to earlier times, traditions, events, and techniques.
Asian-American artist Roger Shimomura draws upon the graphic sensibilities of the pop art movement and Japanese 19th century ukiyo-e prints in his two 2014 works, “Liz” and “Marilyn,” which are shown alongside Andy Warhol’s iconic silkscreen works of the 1960s, “Liz Taylor” and “Marilyn Monroe.”
Shimomura, however, presents images of Japanese women rendered in an ukiyo-e style and looking into mirrors, the celebrities reflected back at them, raising questions of otherness, self-perception, and identity.
Masami Teraoka’s 1990 watercolor “Hanging Rock,” while also resembling Japanese prints from the 19th century, confronts the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s. Chinese artist Wang Guangyi’s Chanel painting of 1994 ironically juxtaposes advertising imagery with 1970s Chinese political propaganda. It is paired with a Chinese political poster and with “Crak!” a 1964 lithograph by Roy Lichtenstein, who drew imagery from commercial advertising, magazines, and comic books. Works by three other contemporary artists — Dinh Q. Le, Pipo Nguyen-duy, and Jenifer Wofford — use historical photography as a departure point for very personal takes on history, self, and memory.
A selection of ceramic works also emphasizes the robust dialogue between East and West, as contemporary artists draw on glazes and techniques from the past.
The exhibition is organized by Kevin R.E. Greenwood, the museum’s Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art.
The Allen Memorial Art Museum cares for more than 14,000 works that provide a comprehensive overview of the history of art.
A non-profit institution that is part of Oberlin College, the AMAM works with faculty and students to promote direct study of original works of art, foster visual literacy, and deepen appreciation for the diversity of the world’s cultures.
Founded in 1917 with the idea that learning about art is important for everyone, the museum offers free admission.
Courtesy photo “Marilyn” is a 2014 work by Roger Shimomura.