Jan 31, 2010

New Asian Isms of Art

Asian Art for a very long time had been prospering under the influence of West. Countries with free market economies had been looking towards Europe, and China and North Korea looked more towards Soviet Union. Thus while Surrealism and Cubism were perhaps the most important genres followed by artists in India, Indonesia, Philipines, etc, a variation of Soviet Union’s famous Prolekult could be seen in both North Korea and China. Socialist Realism was all that these countries’ artists practiced.


Though artists had adopted themselves to express their respective countires’ aspirations through these western genres, there always existed another group of artists who were against this ‘aping of the west’ and gathered inspiration from the living and past traditions of their own countries. In China a small group of artists like Zhang Yajie painted outside the realm of Socialist Realism and called his works “art of the wounded”. Japan which was never under colonial occupation always maintained their traditional art forms and Japanese Art history had been divided in terms of periods like Edo Period (1600 to 1819), Meiji Period (1868- 1912). Japanese academies continue this tradition and even classified the contemporary art in terms of periods like “Taisho Period art” (1912 to 1925) and Showa Period” (1926 to 1989). These artists worked parallel to the avant garde artists of the time.


Continuity of tradition had not always remained uninterrupted in erstwhile colonies like India, Phillipines and Indonesia. In India, while majority of artists had adopted to western style art, there were always a small set of artists like Jamini Roy and Ramkinker Baij who had been working outside the realm of western art forms.

Aya Takano's art is entirely Japanese and yet new and original

In this century however the division between the traditional art forms and west-influenced art forms is getting blurred. After the collapse of the East Block and the rise of Asian Tigers in the world economy, the traditions in the third world Asian countries are changing and the local communities in these countries are more integrated to the world than before.

Yang Shaobin's Cynical Realism

The impact of these socio-economic changes are now seen reflected in the avant-garde movements in most Asian countries. The impact can be seen in two major trends.
Firstly Indian, Chinese, Cambodian and artists of other Asian countries are now talking about their own countries in their own styles. Secondly as these countries are getting more world attention, the aspirations to develop art forms of their own s also get crystallized.

Magic Realism of Sacha Jafri is perhaps the only 3rd World art genre art genre which shows Western Conception

Asia is thus seen as the harbinger of new genres of art. The most poipular of these new art genres is perhaps Superflat genre. Developed by Takashi Maurakami in Japan, this art form is the staple for an entire generation of contemporary Japanese artist. The other not so popular genre is Magic Realism. Its propagators are though mostly artists from the third world like India, Mexico and Brazil, the artists are however mostly settled in the West like Sacha Jafri.

Devajyoti Ray's Pseudorealim is Indian in form and content, yet fits entirely the west's definition of an independent genre

The Chinese artists after the famous 85 Movement, developed their own new genre calling it Cynical Realism. Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun are its main propagators. The ism is purely Chinese but it fits the Western definition of an art genre. Pseudorealism developed by Indian artist Devajyoti Ray is considerably new but like other Asian genres of 21st century, this too is rooted in India, but fits aptly the west’s definition of an art genre.


It is difficult to find any definite influence in Hayv Kahraman's works.

Compared to these emerging trends in Asia, In Europe and US we do not see the emergence of any new ism of art. Western Art is now very individualistic and changing with every passing day. This has come as an advantage to the East, particularly South Asia, where art movements are getting solidified and with the support of the emerging local economies, getting all the requisite attention.

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