Art History: ‘Tradition’ in Thai modern art  – School of Literature, Art and Media Art History: ‘Tradition’ in Thai modern art  – School of Literature, Art and Media

Art History: ‘Tradition’ in Thai modern art 

Research Seminar: ‘Tradition’ in Thai modern art

John Clark


How is ‘tradition’ mapped when art historically deployed in Thailand? Does it correspond to an antithesis with ‘the modern’, or is it an historically dependent pair which proceeds to develop or regress in tandem? The slipperiness of ‘tradition’ is due to its appropriation by the official Royal / state / Silpakorn [University of Fine Arts] discourse of art with its supporting educational and exhibition structures, rather than ‘tradition’ also claiming legitimacy from outside the official discourses. The ‘ethnic’, ‘folk’ or ‘anti-°©‐establishment’ positions are found in artists and work which see themselves as ‘genuine’ and working against the ‘false’.

‘Tradition’ is defined by political and art historical contexts which have been highly selective in their choice of past examples worth nominating, as in their acceptance of motivated exclusions. Much art work did not make it to exhibition let alone into art history because it did not suit official notions of ‘tradition’ and its antitheses conceived of as ‘modern’. Since ‘contemporary’ art has frequently been the field for competing norms about the ‘real’, or about what is ‘ours’, re-°©‐excavation of occluded artists and works becomes one way of rethinking the ‘contemporary’, and changing the datum set of works and artists by which the ‘contemporary’ is to be established.

I will present the main ideas from this paper which was originally presented as one keynote lecture at La Salle-°©‐ Singapore Institute of the Arts in October 2018.

Please join us for Welcome Drinks after the seminar in the Holme Courtyard from 4.30-6pm.

Venue: Schaeffer Seminar Room 210, RC Mills Building, A26



Oct 10 2019


3:00 pm - 4:10 pm



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