May 31, 2016
Disclaimer: I’m not an art critic (surprise!), but I’ve seen quite a bit and by now I hope you’ve had a chance to get down to the MFA to see their current exhibition: Megacities Asia. It’s a collection of work by 11 artists from 5 vastly populated cities in Asia. The signage explains that in 1960, cities with a population of 10 million and more were limited to New York and Tokyo. Now there are nearly 30 cities of this size across five continents. The artists represented in the show create mostly “found object” work that references the environments, social conditions and other elements expressive of living in a megacity… like the overabundance of plastic bags we face – as found in Mumbai artist, Aaditi Joshi’s work Untitled – or the repetitive nature of Subodh Gupta’s Take Off Your Shoes And Wash Your Hands with a wall of stainless steel cooking utensils.
This show really settled itself into the museum in a lovely way – you get your first glimpse from Huntington Ave with Choi Jeong Hwa’s Breathing Flower – a large lotus that rises larger than life and seems to float on the lawn… If you enter on the Fenway side, you’re faced with his Alchemy piece. A collection of inexpensive plastic containers – disposable and yet eternal (as plastic can be) – beautifully transformed into jewel tones and set as large beaded columns giving a further sense of the structure’s permanency.
With this show, I was surprised to find myself in some smaller galleries I had never visited before. (That’s the thing about museums that people forget – there’s always more to explore). Go this way and that through the Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa and you find yourself walking in to Chaosmos Mandala – the selfie room to beat all selfie rooms – with mylar and a slowly moving plastic chandelier. Another great piece by Choi Jeong Hwa.
From here, I set my sights on the Ai Wei Wei pieces, an artist I have long admired for his use of materials and meaningful reflection. Find your way into the Shapiro Courtyard and you’ll find his Forever piece constructed of Forever brand bicycles – asking the viewer to question the rapid expansion of roads and cars and the people who want them. And don’t forget to seek out his other piece – Snake Ceiling. Wow.
Forever is particularly important to me – as it affects not only the feeling in the space – but also the square footage for our events hosted at the MFA! It also throws a pretty mean shadow on the wall.
Overall, this is a really beautiful show. It makes you think about the hyper-expansion of the cities around us. It offers a sense that cities are living and breathing entities, made up of a million little pieces and they are crowding in as illustrated in Hema Upadhyay’s 8’x12’.
While I only touched on a few pieces, there is so much more to see and think about – be sure to check it out soon.