Luminous: The Art of Asia

The challenge for the handsomely mounted historical survey show "Luminous: The Art of Asia" is to pep up these selections from the vaults of SAAM, to blow off some of the dust of history and familiarity. Because what was new to SAM's founder and chief benefactor, Richard E. Fuller (1897-1976), ain't so new to us today. And boundary-hopping is the conceit to Luminous, which organizes about 5,000 years of history from a dozen countries by, well, disorganizing it. There's no convenient timeline, no neat procession from Yuan to Ming dynasties, no national maps or chronological path to follow from gallery to gallery. SAM curator Catherine Roche says her structuring motif here is one of passageways and fluidity, and the show's sole new commissioned work, by Korean-American artist Do-Ho Suh, makes the metaphor both concrete and ephemeral. In a doorway, Suh's Gate is a ceiling-height sewn-silk replica of a stone gateway back in his Korean home village. The form is ancient and solid but the execution translucent and new. Videos and animation can be viewed from either side of the screen, which has a portal in its center that leads visitors to the 17th-century Japanese Edo-period Crows, an ink-and-gold series of 12 panel screens depicting 90 birds in raucous congress (a Fuller acquisition). And, appropriately, an animated flock of crows bursts into the sky on Suh's elegant scrim; it's a contemplative scene suddenly interrupted. BRIAN MILLER

Thursdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: Oct. 13. Continues through Jan. 8, 2011

 
comments powered by Disqus