Dealers use Asian Art in London as a chance to highlight their stock, often at themed exhibitions that focus on elements of the huge diversity of human creativity that rest under the Asian art umbrella.
Seasoned buyers and curators come from the rest of the UK and abroad to attend the event, but for those with less experience of visiting galleries – or those simply eager to learn more – AAL’s gallery hops are a good way to get started. See asianartinlondon.com for more details.
A 14th century paper storage box, above, is offered for £14,000 at Simon Pilling’s exhibition Flora and Fable (October 29-November 9). The paper box, 12 x 15in (30 x 39cm), was made in the Nanbokucho period and features natural Buddhist imagery in gold makie and gilt metal fittings. Staged at Gallery 8 on Duke Street, St James’s, the show focuses on the depiction of plants in Japanese art (last year the gallery focused on animal symbolism).
Plants in Japanese art are often used “to capture the impermanence of life or define the emotions through the passing of the seasons”, says Pilling.
It includes both historic and contemporary works.
Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer
A large Pala-period (9th-10th century) torso of Buddha features in the Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer’s exhibition of sculptures from India, China and south-east Asia. The polished black stone torso is shown in a slight tribhanga pose, the classic tri-bent position of traditional Indian sculpture.
The right hand is lowered in the varadamudra (granting of wishes) position and it is dressed in an ankle-length, pleated sanghati, a type of Buddhist monastic robe, which covers both shoulders. Measuring 2ft (61cm) high, it has a provenance back to a private Belgian collection and is offered for £15,000. The exhibition runs from November 1-23 in Bury Street, St James’s.
An 1808 tempera on paper painting of Janmashtami Celebrations at the Court of Raja Ishwari Sen by the artist Sanju is offered at Rob Dean’s Classical Indian Paintings from the Court of Mandi show (November 1-9), held in St James’s. An inscription to the reverse dates the scene and locates it at the court of Mandi.
Further inscriptions identify each figure, providing a historical record of the court after Raja Ishwari Sen’s release from imprisonment at the neighbouring court of Kangra. It bears witness to the fact that the royal patron began to commission paintings in his own right and brought artists from the defeated Kangra court to his atelier.
Paintings from the period tend to be produced anonymously, making this signed work a rare find. It has a price in the region of £150,000.
The second part of the collection of US film and TV agent Norman A Kurland comes to Eskenazi in Mayfair from November 1-24. It showcases art and sculpture from the Six Dynasties period (220-581AD), a time of great political upheaval following the fragmentation and collapse of the Han Dynasty.
During this time, art, poetry and religion flourished throughout the rival kingdoms. Trading channels including the Silk Route brought numerous new ideas, imagery and raw materials into China. Among the highlights is a 6th century bronze dragon, 11in (28cm), which is offered for a price in the region of $150,000.
Sydney L Moss
Japan’s supernatural spirits star at Sydney L Moss’s exhibition Devils, Demons and Bakemono (November 1-10). Held at the Queen Street, Mayfair, gallery, the show focuses on the depictions of fables populated by demonic creatures. Such stories were invoked to rationalise inexplicable phenomena such as natural disasters and disease, calming fears by putting a face on evil. This folklore has fuelled the imaginations of writers as well as artists for hundreds of years.
One of the more light-hearted pieces in the show is a wood netsuke from c.1800 which shows a boy and a sake jar ‘ghost’. The boy up-ends the jar and uses a cloth to create a hooded ghost puppet. The wood bears a few remaining patches of dark paint-lacquer, which may once have covered the object. Made in Osaka it is unsigned, though the part-lacquering technique recalls the famed Yoshimura Shuzan (d.1773), another Osaka resident.
It is offered for £27,000.
Priestley & Ferraro
Priestley & Ferraro holds a pair of shows from November 1-9: Symbol and Support: The Elephant’s Role in Chinese Art and Song Ceramics & Works of Art.
One highlight is a 17th century black and grey jade elephant made during the late Ming or early Qing period. It carries a leafy peach branch with two large fruit beside a single flowering stem of narcissus, and was intended as an embodiment of New Year’s blessings.
The pronunciation of ‘elephant’ in Chinese is the same as ‘propitious’ and the animal has long been associated with good tidings. These are the inaugural events for the gallery’s new home in Bury Street, St James’s, open since June. Prices in each range from around £10,000 to six-figure sums.
Indian miniatures from the Ludwig Habighorst Collection and Textiles from the Subcontinent – Late 17th-19th century both run from November 1-10 at Francesca Galloway in Mayfair. From the latter exhibition comes Pichhvai of Dana Lila (the demanding of toll), a Deccan, possibly Hyderabad, work made in the mid-19th century.
It is cotton with stencilled and painted design and features gold and silver applied with adhesive with extra painted pigments, and measures 8ft 5in x 7ft 11in (2.56 x 2.4m). Prices in the shows start from £10,000.
Nicholas Pitcher Oriental Art
Nicholas Pitcher Oriental Art’s exhibition of Chinese ceramics and works of art runs on New Bond Street from November 2-9 and includes early pottery and bronzes, Ming and Qing monochromes and a number of later bronzes.
Highlights include a large Ming gilt bronze figure of crowned Budai, pictured above, offered for a price in the region of £9000. Depicted in typical fashion as a jolly, humorous deity, it measures 12½in (32cm) high.