Week 07 Journal – Visiting the Asian Civilizations Museum

It was a different experience from the ACMs compared to times before as there was a guide explaining the collection and bringing the stories from the past come alive. As the collection was being described, as a visual learner, it was easy to visualize how life would have been as I was listening.

A view of Officials assembling for a trial at the hongs of Canton, 1807, Canton (now Guangzhou), China
My favorite object would be the painting of the Officials assembling for a trial at the hongs of Canton. When it was being explained that this was during the time of the trial of seamen from the British ship who had been involved in the death of a Chinese man, I didn’t expect to hear that as it looked like a normal depiction of a rendezvous between locas during the 19th Century ( I was standing far behind and I couldn’t see much other than a crowd of people and tall beautiful buildings). It was a surprise compared to what I had expected the description of the painting would be and made me do a double take and look at objects in ACM in different way. Being so used to ACM for the few visits here, I got used and took the objects for granted so I definitely am grateful there is someone explaining the objects in the 2 hours and give me a different outlook.

It was also a favorite because it was beautifully painted from the architecture of the buildings that showed some sort of European ties to the country, the colours picked that showed contrast from the ground and up so there is a shift in focus in the painting, prominent and detailed figures in the painting and, traces of how there is a sense  of aerial perspective that the painter had learned that shows the previous times China has exchanged art and information with the West and had have their own Renaissance to paintings.

Week 5 Journal: Engaging with the Past

Thanks to team 2, today we learned about contemporary artists using traditional mediums like Mughal miniatures. Who are some other contemporary artists who use traditional materials, genres, or subject matter from the past? Why are they engaging with the premodern?

While preparing for the presentation, I got the chance to witness Artists in this age engage with traditional materials or the traditional art styles to synchronise with modern mediums. For one, I know the Singh sisters used the vivid paintings  to expressing their pride in traditional values and heritage, even though they were living in London. It was a expression of their dual cultural identity, living in London but not of or from London, being different. This also explains the narratives in their art  that try to redefine narrow perceptions of heritage and identity in art and in society.

Colourful painting showing fifteen figures performing various task to prepare for a meal in a garden
All Hands on Deck, 1997, Rabindra KD Kaur Singh

However, another artist that I encountered lately was Phi Phi Oanh. Her work revolves around  lacquer and combined with her studies of the Vietnamese lacquer painting (sơn mài) tradition. Drawing from the hybrid nature of her personal history, Oanh constructs pictorial and evocative installations.

Pro Se, Installation photos courtesy of National Gallery Singapore, Radiant Material, June – September 2017.

Oanh uses her lacquer paintings and display them in modern iPads. She wanted to emphasize the strangeness and the significance of the material and the local in the age of the immaterial, virtual and digital reproduction. The significance lacquer was to use it as a marker for dialectical changes in Vietnamese society. The lacquer is a varnish that tries to preserve and is a metaphor for preserving cultural and religious relics to a painting medium for personal and nationalistic expression. It now is charged with the ability to also reflect and visualise the conditions of thought and sight in which we live.

Week 03 Journal – Art from West Africa

I think the part about these Eurocentric narratives, it is described that the explorers “discovered” these continents as if the continents have not been settled by others. The history is written from a Eurocentric perspective and only emphasizes on that view thus, many other perspectives from other travellers and thus, History isn’t fully revealed. Thus, having a biased narrative continue to shape our “history” of the world can be misleading as readers would only have knowledge about one side of the story and only remember an Eurocentric “famous” explorer. Thus, this emphasizes of how people should continue to be critical about the information they take; different way of seeing, and find out more of the full narrative. Continue reading Week 03 Journal – Art from West Africa

Week 02 Journal – Art from West Africa

The video evokes a compelling message in which George the Poet takes the perspective of the Benin people, the Bronze plaques and even the Benin Oba; expressing what they had would had witness  the arrival of the colonizers, the period of the colonization and the aftermath of that civilization. It was delivered beautifully in a well thought poetry as well.

Because it feels personal and as if listening to a perspective of the Benin people, there is an understanding and compassion for the Benin people.

This reminds of that scene in Black Panther when Killmonger was in the museum of Great Britain and asks “How do you think your ancestors got these? Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it… like they took everything else?”
This makes

Week 01 Journal – “Why you don’t like Art History” Response

I favour Art History more than what I initially had thought.

From what I can remember, it starts off about the relatable factor of Art History being presented; in dark classrooms, flat images on screen, names and dates, and movements and napping; presented the world’s history in a linear and non-interactive manner and a challenge to remember.

I definitely remember the narrator in the video mentioning the series called “Civilizations” – that I feel like watching, and she describes it as a ‘wide view’ of the start of human creativity and development in other parts of the world. It is then compared to the 1969 air of ‘Civilization’, presented by an Art Historian, Kenneth Clark. It is Eurocentric personal account and it is biased by his words of ‘The great works of western man.’ Though it was popular series, this influences the people who watch it that whatever that isn’t of that standard set by Kenneth Clark, it would be considered ‘Barbaric’ thus, the narrator says it was ‘problematic’. Continue reading Week 01 Journal – “Why you don’t like Art History” Response