Market: Eyes on the Past

By: Jenna Curry

Art objects and ethnographic artifacts from across the globe—from Africa to Southeast Asia to the Americas—will be brought together for the 19th annual Los Angeles Asian and Tribal Art Show, running Nov. 14–15 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. About 60 international dealers will offer bronzes, ceramics, textiles, wood sculptures and other objects representing a broad spectrum of customs and traditions. According to show producer Elizabeth Lees, the fair has a strong mix of Indonesian and Asian tribal, but there is also classical Asian art, including fine enamels from Japan.

Asian and tribal art dealer Mark A. Johnson, who has a gallery in Los Angeles, will offer a statue of a hunting dog, found on the island of Borneo, for $15,000. Made of ironwood by the Dayak tribe in the 18th or 19th century, the dog symbolizes loyalty. “It would have been on a post, outdoors in front of the village—something that could be seen every day,” Johnson says. The dog was the protector of the house, watching and listening for the enemy. Dogs, cats and monkeys are common figures in Dayak sculpture, but this example is considered rare because its head and face are still intact, despite visible wear and tear caused by decades’ worth of water damage.

“The objects brought to the show were made by great artists from these cultures, for use by the people,” says Joshua Dimondstein, a tribal art dealer in Los Angeles. Dimondstein is bringing a Baule ancestor figure, used to house the spirit of a deceased ancestor, priced at $50,000. He also plans to offer some African masks, such as a 20th-century Chokwe Mwo example that stands 12 inches high and is priced at $10,000.

Although Lees, who coproduces the show with her partner, Bill Caskey, expects dealer attendance to be down about 12 percent from last year’s show, she says there is still strong interest in Asian and tribal art among local collectors and enthusiasts. According to Lees, both genres have held their own in the current economic climate. “If anything, we’ve even seen an increase in interest in tribal art from the general public,” she says. “What started happening a couple years ago is publications started photographing tribal art in homes or galleries alongside contemporary art, showing that they really do work well together.”

Author: admin | Publish Date: November 2009