Issues and Trends in Asian Art Scene

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Most forms of Asian arts are deeply- rooted in eastern philosophy and values. Images of community, nature, family, worship and praise are found in all forms- paintings, sculptures, literature and calligraphy. Most of these forms symbolize distinct and truly Asian values such as preference for social harmony, respect for the collective well-being of the community and loyalty to family.

However, even though the Asian arts scene is colorful and vivid, not unlike its people and culture, the field of arts is still besotted with different concerns and issues. One issue would be the never- ending fund-raising troubles for several museums and galleries across the continent. For poverty- stricken and most often, third-world Asian countries, funding for the arts would be not be given as much thought as let’s say, funding for education or economy. Therefore, citizens would not give time or even the slightest attention to visit museums and galleries, much to the dismay of the curators and art followers. The value of arts is diminishing in countries such as Philippines and Cambodia where food in the table is far more important than buying sculptures or paintings. Others can even define arts as a luxury or an unwanted commodity. A well- known curator from the Philippines who manages a privately- owned museum, complained that locally, art tends to be a copy of western influences. Most Filipinos are not aware of long and hard-earned traditions that were passed from the ancestors down to the current generation. They chose not to be involved since some of them would rather use their money for something more important- things that would satisfy their physiological needs. Art masters and teachers often see Philippines as a colony of Spain, America and Japan and have “overarching history and development”. Because of these, museums in the Philippines are downgraded, being subjected to commercial eradication and possesses confused identity.

On the other hand, wealthy Asian countries such as Japan have documented efforts to preserve their arts. These processes are well- known and Western counterparts undoubtedly praised. The Japanese national identity and image were present in their carefully- cultivated art forms such as ikebana, or ukiyo-e, a major art form where beautiful prints are made out of woodblock. This tradition has been present even during the Edo period and was passed from one generation to another. Sculptures in Japanese cultures are also associated with religion and its form in traditional Buddhism. Designs on the Japanese ceramics are also the finest in the world. Japanese architecture on the other hand, has a wonderful fusion of both interior and exterior spaces in which both worlds are clearly expressed. Gardens and houses from Europe and America are slowly using Japanese and Zen method of landscaping.

Modern arts are shifting and slowly changing. Nowadays, there is a shift from the traditional arts to photography in Southeast Asia. Social networking sites and the vast world of internet provide a more distinct and convenient way on making art aficionados post and see works of arts. There are also websites that act as an classified ads to post paintings for sale and artwork for sale. Photography is no longer a simple mean of taking pictures and documentations but the shift in the use of camera- both still and moving, is becoming a practical passion for Asians.

With these monumental changes in the art scene in Asia, the world patiently awaits for artists and artisans who will be shaping the world of arts. Fusion in both Eastern and Western influences has long been experienced and is quietly taking over the world by storm. It is only a matter of time when the next wave of art revolution will pass and transform Asia.

The writer, Nico, is an art marketer at Artyii, an Asian art sales platform. He assists artists in marketing themselves online and handles sales queries from international online arts buyers. He thus is aware of the difficulties artist face when trying to bring their work to an appreciating crowd.
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