Reality and Invention
Drawing on the QAGOMA Collection, this exhibition focuses on artist responses to social change experienced throughout Asia since the 1980s, and the emergence of realism as a defining artistic strategy of the period.
As technology, consumerism and globalisation came to play more prominent roles in people’s lives, artists found innovative and arresting ways of reflecting their realities. They experimented with new forms, materials and ideas that were directly inspired by everyday life, or sought to depict versions of reality distinct from those presented by the emerging mass culture. As Japanese curator Masahiro Ushiroshoji put it at the time, this was not so much realism as a style, rather it was ‘realism as an attitude’. Society was changing, and so was art.
Focusing on the period between the late 1980s and the early 2000s, when Asian artists rose to international prominence, the exhibition also includes anticipations of the realist attitude from earlier decades, as well as examples of its persistence today. Human rights, feminism and democracy are important concerns of this era, alongside philosophical and spiritual reflections, and attempts to make sense of the role of local cultures in the face of globalisation. Taking in movements as diverse as the Japanese New Wave, Indian figurative-narrative art and Indonesia’s politically charged New Art Movement, ‘Reality and Invention’ features many well-known works from the Gallery’s Collection alongside some rarely seen holdings of major significance.