Post A : Art and Design in South East Asia

There has recently been a boom in Art fairs And Design Biennale’s around the world, in particular in Asia with the Singapore Biennale, Art Beijing, Art/Jog, the Asia Pacific Triennial in Queensland and many more.

In the larger fairs it’s quite interesting to see that countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the poorer Asian countries are often overlooked and fail to attract scholarly attention. Is it that there is no contemporary design and art in these places? Or is it the kind of Contemporary Art.

For all the rhetoric of diversity, the situation remains skewed in favour of artists whose work is considered avant-garde and can be assimilated and appreciated within a critical framework that remains indebted to Euro-American theorizations. “ Chaitanya Sambrani




79 X 79 IN (200 X 200 CM)

 Back in 1993 it was quite amusing to see in the ‘best discovery’ section of the inaugural SH Contemporary art fair 2 Indonesian artists who were only newly ‘discovered’. One of the artists was veteran Agus Sawage, a well-established South East Asian artist with many important exhibitions under his name. But in recent years this Euro-Centric view of the region has improved as the creative hubs become more established and even start hosting there own Art fairs. Around South East Asia especially in culturally & traditionally rich places such as Indonesia and Singapore there has been a boom in local fairs and Artist Run initiatives –very much bringing back the 1993 saying “Art for Asians by Asians”. The work being produced by these local artists is work about the local communities and for the local communities.

One of the initiatives really improving the region and bringing Art and Design to the public in Taring Padi, located in Yogyakarta.

Through art, they began building an understanding amongst the people to fight against injustice, helping to forge a community aware of environmental, social, political, and cultural issues, inviting the community to be active and courageous in voicing their real life experiences and their opinions on the performance of government.



Taring Padi is an underground community of artists who are trying to rebuild a ‘peoples culture’ through cultural activism. The artists use the more readily mediums of screen printing and relief printing to produce work that engages the public and can be understood by those with no education. Taring Padi regularly run workshops at their studio and undertake collaborative projects with communities and national and international art and political groups. In May 2010 Taring Padi and networks, together with the victims of Siring Village and surrounds, collaborated to make a commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Lapindo Mud disaster. They held etching, screen-printing, painting and singing workshops, culminating with a carnival and a people’s stage on the edge of the dam containing the mud.


It is events like this that are slowly changing the art environment around South East Asia, providing local Artists and Designers a platform to get there work out there, both locally and Internationally.


British Council Creative Economy (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2015)

Jim Supangkat … [et al.]. (2001) Outlet: Yogyakarta within the contemporary Indonesian art scene. Cemeti Art Foundation 

Taring Padi Exhibition in Space 2435 | North Quad Programming (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 30 April 2015)

Blowing in the Wind (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 4 February 2015)
(no date) Available at: (Accessed: 4 February 2015)

Tyler Rollins Fine Art – Agus Suwage – Dalai Lama #4 (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 30 April 2015)

editor and Jan Cornall … [et al.]. (2008) Gang Re: Publik: Indonesia-Australia Creative Adventures. Australia: Gang Inc.


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