Fleming reveals Asian art
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After more than a century of being hidden away in the private collection of the Fleming, dozens of Asian artworks have been put on display in the Gallery of Asian Art.
The product of curator Andrea Rosen’s year long process, the Fleming’s newest addition features works from all over Asia, some of which are thousands of years old and all of which are fascinating.
Despite the great range of time and vast number of countries represented in the gallery, there are several themes that unite the works.
It allows one to witness the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia from India and see each culture’s interpretation and integration of the religion via art, as intended by the curator.
There are Indian depictions of Buddha in schist, intricate Bengalese stone reliefs, elegant Japanese masks used for Noh theater performances and Sri Lankan masks carved from wood, all of which are connected by their devotion to Buddhism, as stated by the labels underneath the artwork.
Artworks celebrating Islam, Hinduism, Daoism and Confucianism are also featured, showing the great religious diversity present in Asia, Rosen said.
Another theme is the influence of the Western world on Asian countries through trade.
One can see the evidence of Europe’s imperialist period.
The West’s demand for Asian products from this period is reflected in many works of ceramics, porcelain and china that appealed specifically to the Europeans’ taste for the “exotic,” Rosen said.
In the right wing of the gallery, there are many ceramic pieces created by the exchange of various glazes and techniques between Korean, Chinese and Japanese artists.
It also features a piece made by Hideo Okino, the first full-time ceramics professor at UVM.
The artwork is complemented by detailed informational placards written by Rosen that allow the viewer to better understand the historical context of each piece.
The placards highlight the artistic traditions unique to each country, and provide insight into the political, social and religious aspects of their cultures as well.
Rosen curated the gallery in the hopes that, “when [the viewer] walks in, they see something unexpected that contradicts and changes what they previously thought about Asian art,” she said.
Fortunately, it is here to stay for at least a few years and will be updated regularly with other pieces from the Fleming’s collections.