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Art of the Matter: Asia’s Top Gallery Immersions

11 July 2024

Asia has developed its own diverse, distinctive arts scene – one which is now also influencing the West. Here are some of Remote Lands favorite cities in the region to experience traditional and contemporary works.

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ART OF THE MATTER:
ASIA’S TOP GALLERY IMMERSIONS

Asia has developed its own diverse, distinctive arts scene – one which is now also influencing the West. Here are some of Remote Lands' favorite cities in the region to experience traditional and contemporary works.
 

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HONG KONG’S ART EVOLUTION

Hong Kong Palace Museum, WKCD

Since the first gallery in Hong Kong opened on Chatham Road in Kowloon in the early 1960s, Hong Kong has developed into one of the world’s leading art hubs. Key to retaining its position are initiatives like the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), one of the world's largest cultural infrastructure projects. It offers world-class integrated arts and cultural facilities, including M+, a global museum of modern and contemporary visual culture, and the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which presents over 900 priceless treasures from the Palace Museum in Beijing. Also integral to Hong Kong's cultural transformation is Art Basel Hong Kong, which features world-class players from Asia and all over the globe to showcase works by some of Asia-Pacific’s leading artists. It also encourages emerging talent through its various platforms, ensuring Hong Kong continues to provide a hub for different cultures to meet, influence one another, and evolve.

TOKYO COVERS ALL BASES 

The National Museum of Western Art

Tokyo's vibrant art scene is diverse and dynamic, encompassing venues ranging from independent galleries and public museums to private art foundations and collectives. This rich tapestry includes contemporary and premodern artworks, from 4th-century ceramics to interactive 21st-century visual arts. Not exactly new, but notable, is the return of teamLab Borderless in Tokyo, which reopened in February in its new permanent home in Azabudai Hills. With never-before-seen exhibitions, plus old favorites, there’s a lot to savor for fans of world-class digital art. Ueno Park is considered by many to be Japan's premier spot for arts and culture. The Tokyo National Museum is here as is the National Museum of Western Art, housed in a building by legendary French architect Le Corbusier. Other highlights of the city’s art landscape include the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), the Nezu Museum, which houses the collection of politician and collector Kaichiro Nezu, and 21_21 Design Sight in Roppongi, founded by fashion designer Issey Miyake.

TAIPEI MAKES ITSELF NOTICED 

National Palace Museum

Taipei is establishing itself as a hub for the arts in Asia, with intriguing independent galleries complementing venerable institutions. Home to the world's largest collection of Chinese art, the National Palace Museum is a veritable hoard. The collection includes paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, lacquer ware, ceramics, jade and religious objects – many once owned by Chinese emperors and brought in from China in 1949. Although there are myriad attractions in the giant building, the best-known artefact is the jade cabbage, a precious marvel that appears to change color from green to white. Taipei doesn’t lack in showcases for contemporary creativity either. Once home to a tobacco factory, Songshan Cultural Park now hosts visiting exhibitions, art workshops and cool stores. Other galleries dedicated to modern art include the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (MOCA), where artists from Taiwan and China are represented, 1839, which majors in photography, and Aki Gallery, located near the huge Taipei Fine Art Museum, which reopened in the summer of 2018 following an extensive renovation.

SINGAPORE IS WORTHY OF A SWING

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

Singapore art hubs such as the Gillman Barracks, which recently marked its 12th anniversary, offer a fitting stage for the very finest in Asian and international contemporary art. The National Gallery Singapore, one of the region's premier museums, houses the world's largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern art. The Singapore Biennale, now under the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) focuses on contemporary art and has had seven editions since 2006. The launch of ART SG has spurred the opening of several private galleries in the past year. Among the largest and most ambitious is the Whitestone Gallery, occupying 20,000 square feet in Tanjong Pagar and designed by Japanese world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma.

UAE’S CAPITAL OF CULTURE

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi markedly contrasts with the glitz and glamour of its next door neighbor, Dubai. While Dubai exudes a vibrant, pop culture vibe, Abu Dhabi embodies a more subtle, strategic and thoughtful atmosphere. This distinction is evident in its ambitious cultural and civic projects. Saadiyat Island, a centerpiece of Abu Dhabi’s cultural landscape, is home to mega-museum initiatives like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the soon-to-be-unveiled Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. It also hosts the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex designed by David Adjaye, highlighting the emirate’s commitment to religious tolerance and intercultural dialogue.

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