“No Ocean Between Us” opens at San Antonio Museum of Art

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Jessica Lenamond (San Antonio Magazine) writes about “No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present,” an exhibition exploring the effects of migration on Latin American and Caribbean artists of Asian descent. The exhibition opened on February 12, and runs through May 9, 2021. [Also see previous post Exhibition: “No ocean between us” Review.] 

Open Friday, Feb. 12, No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present features about 65 modern and contemporary works in the form of paintings, installations, new media and more. The exhibit is organized mostly geographically, planting viewers in Argentina before traveling north to Brazil and then following the artists through Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

It is rare for a museum exhibit to focus specifically on Latin American and Caribbean artists with roots in Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian diaspora, says co-curator Yinshi Lerman-Tan. “This show is really exciting because the contributions of Asian artists, both in a U.S. and Latin American context, are often overlooked in art history,” says Lerman-Tan, who is the acting associate curator of American and European Art. [. . .]

“We were excited to start the exhibition with this painting because we thought it visually and metaphorically captures some of the exhibition’s themes of migration and diaspora,” Lerman-Tan says. “We’ve been thinking about how people’s life stories often involve travel and migration from one country to another and that these historic patterns of migration produce multicultural communities which then produce art.”

[. . .] Each region has accompanying panels in English and Spanish to provide context for the history of migration from Asia. The Caribbean countries’ panels reflect histories of labor in sugar plantations and are interconnected to the legacy of enslavement and colonization, Lerman-Tan says.

Five works by Wifredo Lam, one of the exhibition’s canonical artists, are on view in the Cuba section. Lam was born to an Afro-Cuban mother and a Chinese father and spent his young artistic years in Paris as a member of the European avant-garde movement.

It was not until Lam fled to Cuba at the onset of World War II that he began to directly engage with Caribbean history and cultures again, like Santería, and African diasporic religion developed in Cuba. “Retrato,” Lam’s 1985 lithograph, is the portrait of a faceless geometric woman and is beside an untitled charcoal and pastel surrealist piece depicting a winged creature and a woman with horns.

Lam said of his work: “My painting is an act of decolonization, not in a physical sense, but in a mental one.”

A separate exhibit in the golden gallery will display a suite of Lam’s prints, “Pleni Luna,” that were created to accompany poetry.

Many more artists and their works reflecting on the influences of migration are featured in the exhibit, which concludes with Suriname [with artist Soeki Irodikromo]. Lerman-Tan says that the exhibition shows how many different answers the artists provide to the question of how a personal and family history of migration and diaspora shape their art.

“Even though all the exhibition’s artists share something in common in that they are Asian Latin American or Asian Caribbean, they’re not a monolith by any means,” Lerman-Tan says. “In fact, their work is incredibly diverse and utterly unique. Some of the artists address the cultural fusions that occur or questions of identity and family history. Some of them think about the transatlantic or transpacific crossings of their ancestors, while other artists don’t confront those issues explicitly at all.”

No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present

Feb. 12 – May 9

San Antonio Museum of Art


No Ocean Between Us Events

Feb. 18, Online Art to Lunch: No Ocean Between Us: Purchase tickets for $10 for an online introduction to the exhibit. 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Feb. 19, Online Lecture: “Why are There so Many Asians in Latin America and the Caribbean?”: Listen to Evelyn Hu-Dehart, Ph.D, explain the migration of Asian communities to the Americas and how they became part of the cultural landscape all across Latin America and the Caribbean. Tickets $10, members $5. 6-7 p.m.

March 12, Online Happy Hour Tour: No Ocean Between Us: Grab a cocktail and enjoy an online tour of No Ocean between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present. Tickets $10. 6-7 p.m.

March 16, Online Artist Conversation: Carlos Runcie Tanaka: An intimate conversation with artist Carlos Runcie Tanaka whose installation Cloud/Nube and videos (The Journey/El Viaje and One/Uno) are featured in the exhibit. Tickets $10, members $5. 6-7 p.m.

April 14, Online Poetry Reading: No Ocean Between Us: Featured poets Julia Wong Kcomt, Rajiv Mohabir, JR Mahung, and Nadia Misir will explore identity, migration, and cultural blends in this poetry panel. 6-7 p.m.

For full article, see https://www.sanantoniomag.com/no-ocean-between-us-opens-at-san-antonio-museum-of-art

[Soeki Irodikromo, Untitled, 1986, oil on canvas. © OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Collection. Gift of the Government of Suriname.]

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