Asia House Arts and Learning Programme focuses on Ancient and Modern Cultures

Asia House Arts and Learning Programme focuses on Ancient and Modern Cultures

19 April 2018

Within the Arts and Learning Programme at Asia House, we have focused on themes around transnational identities, counter cultures and subcultures over the past five years, in order to explore notions of ancient and historical cultures that reflect the importance of recognising and accentuating the relationship between tradition and modernity. There is also the need to actively guard against the destabilisation and loss of several 1,000-year old cultural identities and languages –  both currently and historically, as well as those cultures that are slowly but critically becoming extinct

Culture is the distinguishing factor between one group of people and another and can include elements such as art, literature, language, fashion, food, rituals and ceremonies, ideologies and religions, technology and political systems amongst others.

The preservation of ancient cultures of the native peoples and tribal cultures of Asian subcultural societies for example through the arts and through learning plays a key role in ensuring the sustainability of biological and cultural diversity.

In our 2018 spring programme you can learn about love through the prism of three Thai literary classics, and of a unique ‘stone garden’ based in the province of Kermanshahin, in Iran. This is the  theme of our present exhibition by Iranian -American artist, darvish,  (19-27 April) who explores the  notion of internal and external explorations of space, and pays homage to the Iranian farmer Darvish Khan Esfandiarpour (coincidentally sharing the same first name as the artist).  From his recent series of large drawings of imaginary deserts and mountainscapes, to his vast colourful paintings covering the cosmic realm, darvish invites us to contemplate, on a grandiose scale, the term “no man’s land”.  The earliest occurrence of the term dates back to the 1300s as “nomanneslonde” used in the sense of “a piece of uninhabited or  land which no one owns; a desolate place.”

On the 10 May,  Professor Craig Clunas will examine a remarkable range of Chinese images, from the 15th century to the 21st, to explain the changing audiences for Chinese painting and to look at the ideal types of viewer these pictures were made for. This lecture will look at some of the themes of this innovative book and at the changing audience for Chinese painting – from the scholars of the Ming period to the mass audience of present-day museum goers.

Dr Craig Clunas is a major figure in the field of Art History; specialising in Chinese art and culture from the Ming dynasty to the present day. His current research deals with the transnational history of Chinese art from 1911 to 1976.

From an ancient jataka tale (Sudhana-Manohara), to a courtly tragedy (Phra Lo), and a folk epic (Khun Chang Khun Phaen) – spread over several centuries, Thai scholar and writer, Prof. Pasuk Phongpaichit and author Dr Chris Baker will give a talk on the 23 May, where they will  present readings from their first-ever translations of all three classics, illustrated with artworks and dance inspired by each of the text.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list (bottom right of home page) to stay up-to-date with our upcoming programme.


Image and thumbnail image: by darvish