Para Site presents The world is our home. A poem on abstraction, featuring works by Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Tomie Ohtake, and Tang Chang. The world is our home is part of Para Site’s series of ground-breaking exhibitions employing a speculative approach to the art histories that need to be written around our regions. The exhibition takes as its point of departure a moment in the abstract movement of the post-war era, when dominant international vocabularies became entangled with traditional Asian painting in the work of a few artists, working independently and in disparate contexts. The show gathers a small but consistent body of works by three such abstract painters, active outside of East Asia, whose experimental practices incorporated artistic traditions of this region. The juxtaposition of the artists bring into light similarities at the formal level as well as distinctiveness in their appropriations of ink painting and calligraphy, but also connections between their post-war contexts, and personal and political implications of their works. The exhibition also brings into question the different levels of marginality operated by art historical narratives and the construction of national and international cannons.
Tomie Ohtake was leading representative of abstraction in Brazil’s art history while remaining unique and distinct from it. Ohtake’s paintings often embody a calligraphic action.
Tang Chang is recognised as an important figure of Thai modern art. His prolific body of work ranges from informal gestural abstract painting to expressionist portraiture, as well as extensive poetry- drawing.
Robert Motherwell, the prominent American abstract painter, often appropriated forms and gestures found in Chinese and Japanese painting.
The exhibition also presents a Bruce Nauman’s video-performance. Shown as an anomaly amongst the pinacothèque display, Nauman’s choreography along the limitations of a given area translates, through movement and immateriality, concepts of time, space, and matter found in the works of Motherwell, Ohtake, and Tang.
The title of the exhibition comes from a slogan employed by the hundreds of Chinese serving on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, a contingent which played a small but important part in the international brigades fighting Franco’s Fascists. The sentence translates the personal sentiment of solidarity and identification with the context and struggles of others. Having actively painted throughout the 20th century in diverse corners of the world, and entered different cannons, these three artists felt entitled to appropriate pictorial languages that transcended national identities, entangling cultural genealogies in their search for an appropriate language for their times.
- Robert Motherwell, Frontier No. 12 (1958). Private Collection
- Tang Chang, White on White 6 (1966). The Tang Chang Estate
- Tomie Ohtake, Untitled (1984). Miguel Chaia Collection