Week 5 reflection

Week 5 Reflection

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?

Contemporary art means that works are made from the artists today using materials and subject matters that respond to the global issues surrounding them everyday and currently. Materials used can also be in digital form since technology is advancing and this also shows that art is also progressing in terms of variety for mediums. Premodern art would be art using traditional mediums and subject matters that are sometimes stylised as shown in the Romanticism and Baroque Period. As I have read the question, I am quite surprised to see how contemporary artists are making way for traditional art forms in their work. Because preferably for contemporary artists to use contemporary art for their works as a sign of progressing forward and more relatable to audiences today.

Aside from Mughal miniature paintings, one contemporary artist called Caroline Archaintre, a French artist working in London. She is a mixed media artist but started working with traditional medium such as ceramic 5 years ago in London.

Below is an example of her work which she used ceramics as the medium. She thought that using ceramics would be a more spontaneous and interesting to work with to create a more textured feel for her work.

Fig 1.

Caroline Archaintre. Chubber. 2013. Ceramics. Arcade, London.

It is interesting to see how artists like Archaintre is going back to using traditional art because of the interaction between her and the material. For contemporary artists to go back to traditional arts so they could reminisce the past feel and texture is probably a good reason why artists these days would want to combine the art today with traditional art.

Image source

“Caroline Archaintre -Why I Create ” . UK Phaidon. last accessed 15 November 2018.


Week 3 Reflection

Week 3 Reflection

What are your thoughts to this video about the bronze plaques from Benin?

In this video, George the poet seems to be representing the people of Benin who produced the bronze plaque. This is because he is standing infront of the bronze plaques and explaining the tragedy and history behind these beautiful bronze plaques in Benin.

The bronze plaque which was never meant to be for sale attracted the attention from many traders especially the Europeans and British. Thus, most of the bronze plaques were taken over by the British and sold to their museums. I think these bronze plaques must have been really valuable to the people in Benin as the reason could be because of the representation of these bronze plaques.

In the video, there was one bronze plaque that depicts Oba’s wealth and status as a king in the Benin kingdom. This is because through the portrayal of Oba wearing a crown and being the center of the composition makes him more dominant.

As we have previously learnt from Year one to Year 3, art objects including sculptures, paintings, illustrations can depict a story or a narrative of everyday peoples’ lives. It can also be a symbolic representation of wealth and power which applies to the bronze plaques in Benin. Additionally, based on my research, the bronze plaques show all men and women from different roles and functions in the kingdom.

However, these glorified descriptions could only depict one side of the kingdom. From my research in The British Museum website, the bronze plaques only depict the wealth and power Oba had but not when he misused his authority as he set trade agreement with the British but never expected them to loot the royal palace and seized the bronze plaques instead. Thus, I feel that these bronze plaques were only meant to show a sense of authority and status towards the king.  Furthermore, it gives Oba a sense of pride for his own status in the kingdom too.

Week 2 Reflection

Art in The Age of Colonialism

This week, we watched a video by PBS Education called Explorers: Age of Encounter. Apart from Zheng He and the Arab navigator in Malindi, who else is missing from these Eurocentric narratives? Hint: Watch the video on Magellan!


Week 2 Reflection

Another missing navigator is a famous Arab traveler of the 1300s, Ibn Battuta. As mentioned in class, he is similar to Zheng He who has also travelled across the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives but only stayed for a while before continuing his journey to China.

From a source I read in HISTORY, the author mentioned that Battuta had been through lots of challenges as a traveler during the 1300s. For example, the source mentioned ‘ he was later kidnapped and robbed of everything but his pants.’ This incident happened during Battuta’s trip to the Orient. He even fell sick during his journey to North Africa. However, he still persevered during his journey by tying himself on the saddle to prevent himself from collapsing.

I find that as a traveler, he could overcome these challenges by going out all means is a bold decision to take. Holding a dream to roam across the earth, he told himself to not just stop at one destination but continue travelling across many continents such as Africa and China. Many people may say that Marco Polo or Christopher Columbus would be one of the most famous travelers of all time. However, I say that Ibn Battuta could also be part of this name as he fought against all challenges and won the hearts of locals in Muslim controlled lands.

His journey never seemed to stop as he even held a multiyear excursion across the Sahara to the Mali Empire in Timbuktu proving his passion for travel and the desire to fulfill his dream is true.