- October 7, 2023
- Posted by: Piers Midwinter
- Category: Paintings
Welcome to my “Asia” series of paintings. My artwork references
- Places I have been to (Great Wall of China, Xian, Beijing, Cuandixia, Guilin, Hong Kong, etc)
- Challenging the “Sacred Cows”
- Asian and ethnic culture, etc.
Asia is the largest continent in the world by both land area and population. It covers an area of more than 44 million square kilometres, about 30% of Earth’s total land area and 8% of Earth’s total surface area.
There are many ways to define the geographical region of Asia. For the purpose of this subject guide, it encompasses China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia; South Asia, which includes the Indian subcontinent; Central Asia which includes Tibet; and Southeast Asia encompassing Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The art and culture of East Asia are unified by powerful philosophical schools of thought and linguistic systems such as Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, the classical Chinese language (including the traditional Chinese script), Mahayana Buddhism, Zen/Chan Buddhism, Daoism, Shintoism (mainly in Japan) and Shamanism.
The traditional arts of the Indian subcontinent were made mostly to serve its indigenous religions, notably Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Tibet and its art—largely based on Vajrayana Buddhism—are becoming increasingly better known as Tibetan Buddhism. Southeast Asia has diverse artistic traditions influenced by Animism, Theravada Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.
Sacred Cows are popular in India. The phrase means an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal). My post on Sacred Cows deals with this topic more fully and goes on to say why I challenge them.
I have been to several places. Notably, I have visited the historic Chuandixia Village. It was established during the Ming and Qing dynasties for more than five centuries. Chuandixia Village is also known as the Potala Palace; over 70 courtyards on the property. By walking through the village, you genuinely get a sense of what it was like to live in China during the Ming Dynasty. Much of the town is the same as during that time period. It is like stepping back in time and when I went there, cut off from civilisation. The nearest hospital; was miles away and there was no internet, etc.
Teaching, education and learning have featured heavily in my life. This might be the reason why I love travelling. Travelling broadens the mind because the more unfamiliar the experience, the more you are learning. And naturally, this applies to every aspect of life. I like challenging myself in my art too – I try to make each picture a new journey.
The vast Asian continent has produced several forms of art that precede Western art. Antique pottery, massive bronze statue, sericulture, jade carving and stoneware, and calligraphy originated in China. In other industries, such as clay sculpting is unusual, Chinese creativity and innovation are unsurpassed, as is their contribution to painting and metalworking. Chinese sculptures’ giantism is well recognised. So, the west owes a lot to Asian culture…
There is a strong link between the evolution of Western art and the development of Asian art. Art from Asia has had a significant impact on European art and vice – versa. The traditions of Europe and Asia have been entwined through the Silk Road, the Era of Discovery, colonization, and more modern means, including the internet and industrialization
Nomadic art is particularly interesting. It can take many forms, including textiles, ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, and architecture. One of the most notable aspects of nomadic art is its connection to the natural world. It is a lesson I have incorporated into my work.