Contemporary Art 21st Century Asia Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Art  (general)
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #47954456

Excerpt from Essay :

Modern art in the Asia-Pacific region reflects the rapidly changing geo-political landscapes, as well as becoming increasingly integrated into architecture and urban planning. In the Asia-Pacific region, the art of the 21st century can be large scale and includes ambitious installation projects as well as graphic art, graffiti, and urban art. Although influenced by European trends like abstraction and surrealism, the art of the Asia-Pacific region is dedicated to communicating a localized aesthetic. Contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific region can also be politically powerful, designed to make statements. In some cases, art has become a critical component of social justice and communications. The work of Ai Weiwei reflects the fusion of art with politics at critical junctures. In Japan and Korea, political statements were less concerned about protests against governmental institutions and more about gender and oppression in general. Throughout the 20th century, Korean art aimed to celebrate the history and uniqueness of Korean culture.

Japanese 21st century art represents a radical shift in aesthetics and artistic ideology. The whimsical work by Takashi Murakami epitomizes the 21st century Japanese zeitgeist. With postmodernist flair and meta-criticism of popular culture, Takashi Murakami incorporates some of the pop art elements of the American 1960s as with his "And Then..." series, depicting a Mickey Mouse-like head in multifaceted new ways. "Tan Tan Bo - In Communication" is one of the artist's most recent works, and it is filled with lively colors and an urban graffiti sensibility. Takashi Murakami has been tremendously influential, founded a movement known as "superflat," and his aesthetic has been borrowed by other Japanese artists working in different media like Chiho Aoshima, and has also permeated the aesthetics of art beyond the Asia-Pacific region (Winners, 2016).

The work of Chiharu Shiota shows how 21st century Japanese art mirrors its counterparts in North America and Northern Europe. Chiharu Shiota's installations are cerebral and conceptual, as well as being large. Central to the artist's approach to installations is interactivity, not in the digital sense, but in an organic way as with Perspectives (2004), which was "made with more than 300 donated shoes accompanied by handwritten notes from each donor, confiding one personal memory," (Winners, 2016). Interactivity is also achieved in the preference for abstract and provocative performance art that requests deep audience engagement divorced from the colonialist gaze. For example, Ei Arakawa is a Japanese artist who appreciates the "pop up" sensibility of the postmodern urban landscape. Arakawa's work is "almost always collaborative, and engages with art's element of social spectacle -- from production to destruction. His artistic sensibility is informed by a performative, indeterminate, 'everywhere-but-nowhere' condition," (Winners, 2016). The interactive and social elements of contemporary Japanese art are actually just beginning to locate their parallels in the arts of Japan's neighbors like Korea. Japan had for much of the 20th century spearheaded the avant-garde movements and those are just starting to emerge, albeit strongly, in Korea.

In the 20th century, Korean art aimed to assert Korean culture and identity and extricate Korea from the ravages of colonialism. Korean art has therefore been strongly political, but also integral to Korean identity construction. Crucial to Korean identity construction was the search for uniquely Korean elements in art, reflecting the specific styles of Buddhism and political structures inherent in the society. Yet other 20th century Korean work bears elements of almost a primitive style, imbued with nostalgia for a pre-industrial past like Lee in-Sung's "Local Colors," which is controversial due to its hearkening to the ways European artists Orientalized local cultures. In some ways, "Local Colors" signals the re-appropriation of colonial forms in ironic ways.

Harumi Yamaguchi's 1972 painting "Apache" is also poignantly ironic. It is a Japanese painter who pierces through the Anglo-American misappropriation and exploitation of Native American iconography and culture. The lithograph shows a white woman, brazenly holding up an assault rifle, the epitome of American arrogance and gun-toting sensibility. She also rides and horse and dons a Native headdress with a feather, even as she also wears a beaded bra and moccasin-style boots with tassels. Yamaguchi shows how it can take an outsider to expose the insider's exploitation of that which is labeled as "other."

Chinese art throughout the late 20th and early 21st century has been more focused on the Chinese political situation and the transformations taking place within Chinese society. Like Japanese artists, Chinese artists have seemed less concerned about the colonial gaze, remaining relatively self-contained and in control of the creative spirit and…

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"Contemporary Art 21st Century Asia" (2016, December 11) Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

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"Contemporary Art 21st Century Asia", 11 December 2016, Accessed.26 May. 2020,