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  • Dec 08, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: December 8, 2023

Installation view of "Of Mythic Worlds: Works from the Distant Past through the Present," The Drawing Center, New York. Photo by Daniel Terna. Courtesy The Drawing Center.

Burger Collection Supports Curatorial Post at The Drawing Center

On December 5, The Drawing Center in New York announced the establishment of a new curatorial position, naming Olivia Shao as the inaugural Burger Collection & TOY Meets Art Curator. As a collaboration between The Drawing Center and the Hong Kong-based Burger Collection, Shao will be responsible for organizing exhibitions in Hong Kong and New York over three years, beginning at the start of 2024 and concluding in January 2027. Monique Burger stated that Shao was chosen for her expertise in international contemporary art from both Hong Kong and New York, and her “innovative curatorial vision,” which was demonstrated by her recent exhibitions as an independent curator “Of Mythic Worlds: Works from the Distant Past through the Present” at The Drawing Center and “Looking Back: 13th Edition White Columns Annual” at New York’s nonprofit art space White Columns. Her forthcoming curatorial project includes an exhibition at Empty Gallery in Hong Kong in March 2024. The Drawing Center’s executive director, Laura Hoptman, likewise noted her excitement “to add a new noice to its curatorial program, one with an international perspective.   

Repatriation ceremony for the Nepali antiquities at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, attended by Nepal’s Acting New York Consul General BISHNU GAUTAM (left) and CHRISTOPHER LAU, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations-New York (right). Courtesy Consulate General of Nepal New York.

Four Nepali Antiquities Repatriated After Years of Smuggling 

Four antiquities collectively valued at more than USD 1 million will return to Nepal, as stated  by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. in New York on December 4. Three of the objects were connected to ongoing investigations into trafficking networks for Nepali antiquities, while the fourth had ties to prolific antiquities smuggler Subhash Kapoor. The artifacts include two gilded Bhairav Masks (Mukhundo) traditionally used in rituals, a stone image of the gods Shiva and Parvati (Uma-Maheshwara) and a statue of the ten-armed god Durga, which date back to 16th and 17th century Nepal. The antiquities were returned at a ceremony with Nepal’s Acting New York Consul General, Bishnu Gautam, who stated: “The return of these illegally exported four masterpieces is a significant step in reclaiming Nepal’s cultural heritage and preserving its historical treasures.” Prior to their recovery, the masks were included in the collections of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and the Dallas Museum of Art, while the Durga statue was found in a storage unit owned by Kapoor. 

From left to right, portraits of ISAURE DE VIEL CASTEL, LIHUA TUNG, and MEILING LEE. Courtesy Phillips Hong Kong. 

Phillips Expands Art Departments in Asia

On December 6, the Hong Kong branch of international auction house Phillips named new appointments in the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Department in Asia. Meiling Lee, current Senior International Specialist at Phillips’ Taiwan, will become Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia, and Lihua Tung was promoted to Head of Department, Hong Kong, 20th Century & Contemporary Art. Tung will immediately resume her new position, while Lee will relocate to Hong Kong in January, 2024. Her new role was previously assumed by Jonathan Crockett, who will remain with Phillips as Chairman of Asia. Meanwhile, Isaure de Viel Castel, who has worked at Philips since 2018, will take on the new position of Senior International Specialist, the role assumed by Lee in Taiwan, but only now added to the Hong Kong department. Crockett stated in a press release: “With the promotion of Meiling and Lihua, coupled with Isaure’s new role dedicated to the Modern art category, this senior group of specialists will remain at the forefront of initiatives in the coming year in pursuit of our determination to serve our clients and meet market demands. By expanding the leadership team, we intend to further strengthen our capabilities in this exceptionally competitive art market.”

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