THE WESTERN VIEW OF ASIAN ART: POWER, TRADE AND DOMINANCE, EUROPEANS IN THE FAR EAST
Suzanne Perrin, independent lecturer for The Arts Society and cultural director of Japan Interlink London
‘Orientalism’ is a Western term for Asian and Far Eastern art, with ‘Chinoiserie’ and ‘Japonism’ being used to define the peoples and cultures of diverse regions beyond the Western world. It is relevant to look at how the West came to be in East Asia, specifically the East India trading companies in East and South Asia, India, China and Japan.
We see how the origins of colonial culture shaped the relationships with these countries, and how trade and ideas were exchanged with them during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. As development came about in the twentieth century, we still see the legacy of these influences today, in the trappings of political power, state trading and royal collections.
With the recent anti-colonial protests marking a reappraisal of cultural differences and definitions, we will look at contemporary artists and how they are redefining their relationship with past and present cultures, their identity and belonging in the modern world.
1. Orientalism: the West’s view of the East; the Grand Tour and cultural obsessions
2. The East India trading companies: colonial culture, its power and trade
3. Chinoiserie and Regency culture: exoticism, refinement and the end of the Company
4. Japan and the West: the Dutch VOC and its visitors; Japan opens to the West
5. Meiji revolution in Japan: Westernisation – losing traditions and gaining opportunities
Dalrymple, W. 2019. The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company. Bloomsbury.
MacKenzie, J.M. 2012. Orientalism: History, Theory & the Arts. Viva Books.