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The Delightful Invasion
by Fred Stern
  It is not really true that all Asian art comes to New York during the last week of March. It just seems that way.

The four focal points of the Asia Week compass are the two auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, and the two art fairs, the International Art Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory and the Arts of Pacific Asia Show at the Armory on 26th Street and Lexington Avenue.

In addition to these four events, a number of special exhibitions are scheduled at galleries and museums and you ought to treat yourself to at least some of them.

The English art dealers Rossi and Rossi are exhibiting Tibetan art in partnership with Sotheby's at the Fuller Building Mar. 24-Apr. 3, in the space occupied until recently by Andre Emmerich Gallery, 41 East 57th Street. Tibetan art is the new darling of U.S. collectors. It is rare, so much of it having been destroyed during the Chinese takeover. Much of the art survives because courageous Tibetans carried it out.

J.J. Lally features a show of ancient Chinese jades, bronzes and ceramics at its gallery at 41 East 57th Street, Mar. 24-Apr. 10. More than 20 fine carvings from the Neolithic age to Shang- Han and the Song Dynasties are included, along with archaic bronze vessels of the Shang and Warring States period.

In another interesting partnership, Eskenazi of London is leasing the third floor print space at PaceWildenstein for an exhibition of ancient Chinese bronzes and ceramics, 32 East 57th Street, Mar. 23-Apr. 3. You will see some very unusual pieces and you can purchase a fabulous catalogue to take home (it's $30).

Kaikodo Gallery is presenting "In the Company of Spirits," an exhaustive exhibition of Chinese and Japanese art in relation to the search for enlightenment, at its townhouse, 164 East 64th Street, Mar. 16- Apr. 17.

In a more playful mode, E & J Frankel at 1040 Madison Avenue at 79th Street is concentrating on "Games People Play," a wide ranging assemblage of Asian games, game pieces and scrolls that illustrate the game-players in action, Mar. 19-May. 1.

Casting a somewhat wider net, Frederick Schultz Ancient Art, 41 East 57th Street, shows "Ancient Art from Southeast Asia," Mar. 1-May 1. This is Schultz's first exhibition dedicated to the material culture of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Concentrating on early metal work, the show has outstanding examples of axes, bells and drums, as well as jewelry worked in bronze, jade and calcite.

China 2000 at 5 East 57th Street shows "Scholars' Objects" -- brushes, brush pots, writing boxes and all the other accoutrements that Chinese scholars needed for their calligraphy and painting, Mar. 17-Apr. 4.

"Crosscurrents" is the name of the exhibition at the Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street. It is a show of New York collections of Japanese objects: paintings, sculptures, scrolls, porcelain and pottery across all dynasties from the Bronze Age to the present, on view Mar. 24-July 1.

The International Asian Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory at Park Avenue and 67th Street, Mar. 25-Mar. 30, is a strictly vetted show of 61 exhibitors from all parts of the globe. A strong British contingent always makes its way here, and dealers from Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing join with a strong American representation. Select what you want to see or buy: Javanese puppets, Indian miniatures, Japanese metalwork, Chinese snuff bottles, Burmese textiles.

Downtown, the Arts of Pacific Asia Show features booths by some 70 dealers in a twice-yearly fully vetted fair. The Pacific Asia Show always features an informative and popular lecture series, which focuses this year on Oriental textiles. The show includes work by contemporary artists, and a Chinese senior master porcelain painter will demonstrate the ancient art of Imperial porcelain painting. The show runs Mar. 24-Mar. 28 at the 26th Street Armory on Lexington Avenue.

The auctions are the usual kaleidoscopic events, with one notable change. Chinese paintings will no longer be auctioned in New York, except for the occasional sale of single owner collections or exceptional master paintings of international renown. "The biggest audience and purchasing group was always in Hong Kong and it makes good sense to return there," according to Christie's spokesperson Mr. Cheng-Ming Ma. In contrast, Korean art is back. It is not a separate category but will be offered in conjunction with Japanese art.

Here are the schedules:

Mar. 22 Chinese Snuff Bottles
Mar. 23 Important Chinese Works of Art (morning)
Chinese Furniture (afternoon)
Mar. 24 Japanese Works of Art
Mar. 25 Indian and Southeast Asian Art
Mar. 26 Decorative Arts

Mar. 22 Fine Chinese Ceramics
Mar. 23 Indian and Southeast Asian Art (morning)
Japanese and Korean Art (afternoon)
Mar. 24 Asian Decorative Arts

FRED STERN writes on art and antiques.