Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now

Sunshowers—rain that literally falls out of the blue—is a widespread phenomenon in Southeast Asia. For the makers of the exhibition SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southwest Asia 1980s to Now, it was a poetic symbol of a region marked by rapid economic and urban transformation. The process democratization of the last decades has been repeatedly jolted by political unrest. The show, conceived by the directors of three important cultural institutions in Tokyo, the National Art Center, the Mori Art Museum, and the Japan Foundation, is an ambitious undertaking: It investigates the development of Southeast Asian art since the 1980s against the backdrop of these social and political upheavals. For two and a half years, a fourteen-member curatorial team worked on the preparations, making over 400 visits to studios in the participating countries. The result is one of the largest exhibitions of Southeast Asian contemporary art to date. 

Featuring eighty-six artists from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, SUNSHOWER is a historic survey encompassing three generations. Among them are stars from the region such as the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and the Indonesian artist Heri Dono, both of whom are represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection, as well as artists born in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Ho Rui An (Singapore) and Korakrit Arunanondchai (Thailand), who was represented at the recent Berlin Biennale.

In nine sections, the two museums present sundry movements of the last four decades. The chapters include Passion and Revolution, which examines the role of artists in democratic resistance and antiwar movements. Growth and Loss documents how artists react to immense growth in the region and to the loss of traditions. The exhibition also addresses basic questions: One section is called „What is Art? Why do it“. It takes a close-up look at how artists are tackling local, regional and global issues.

SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now
July 5, 2017 – October 23, 2017
National Art Center und Mori Art Museum, Tokyo