March 26, 2010

Is the Asian Aesthetic the Future of Art?

By Ai Lung Nguyen - March 2010.

ART HISTORY - Epochs in art are rare and usually the result of major shifts in the art world. In the 21st century however we will see the rise of China as a growing mega power, dwarfing the United States and old Europe in both size, scale, concept and popularity...

Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other Asian countries will no doubt follow suit. Whatever China does they will try to emulate and perfect in their own way, and contextually so will the rest of the world.

Beijing is the new capitol of the art world. Some might argue New York is still the capitol but this is wholly untrue. More art, both old and new, now goes through Beijing and the growing list of Beijing art galleries is testimony to the fact that the financial world and the art world are both shifting towards China and as China's economy continues to saunter and outpace all other world economies, so too will artists start to gravitate towards the new capitol.

New York will always be the capitol of the North American art world, just like Paris is in Europe, but New York's galleries are old... they are institutions now. Trying to open a new art gallery in NYC is an unlikely prospect because the costs of renting/buying a space are too high and galleries simply aren't profitable during the early years, resulting in many failing all too quickly.

But in Beijing the art world is booming. Galleries start up and are almost instantly successful. The people of China are in an art buying frenzy, but not just art by Chinese artists, but also art from international artists and old masters alike.

Thanks to globalization and the internet this trend will only continue to grow, but more so is another trend... that of Asian artists becoming more dominant internationally and attracting more attention, and likewise artists globally beginning to emulate the styles of Asian artists. Its happening already and it doesn't take much effort to find contemporary artists who have been influenced by the Asian aesthetic.

I propose an experiment... go look for a book depicting contemporary art, or do a Google search for the topic if you feel that's more convenient. But before you do so make a list of what aspects you think of when you think of the Asian aesthetic. Define that first and then compare that against contemporary art pieces and see how many have a similar aesthetic to Chinese landscape paintings, Japanese manga, modern Chinese art and whatever other aesthetic qualities YOU think exemplify this shift.

After all I could easily name specific artists or pop culture references like Disney movies, Quentin Tarantino films, cartoons like Samurai Jack, Astro Boy and a plethora of other artistic / pop culture references, but it wouldn't really matter. Only you can decide for yourself.

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