Symposium | Tilting the World: Histories of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art

Tilting the World: Histories of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art

A Symposium in Honour of Professor John Clark

Image (detail): Wadachi Tomo-o, Self-portrait with Spectacles, 1923, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama.

Organised by the Power Institute, University of Sydney, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Friday 29 November, 2013 | University of Sydney
Saturday 30 November, 2013 | Art Gallery of New South Wales


The Power Institute in partnership with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is proud to present Tilting the World: Histories of Modern and Contemporary Asian ArtTilting the World is an ambitious symposium, which will bring to Sydney international experts and emerging scholars to discuss the past, present and future of Asian art. Collectively, this symposium asks: what is at stake in the study of modern and contemporary Asian art cultures today, particularly as we head into what is being styled “the Asian Century”?

This significant event has been organised to honour the career of Professor John Clark, who retires this year from the department. For over twenty years Professor Clark has pioneered, and indeed shaped, the field of modern and contemporary Asian art history. This has been achieved particularly through the production of influential, globally recognized reference texts such as Modern Asian Art (1998), and by his direct nurturing and encouragement of several generations of scholars and curators who are now at the forefront of this burgeoning field. True to this spirit, the symposium looks to the future, highlighting the vital current research being developed by early career scholars, both in Australia and from around the world, active as researchers, curators and critics. Tilting the World signals the belief that new approaches to these vital aspects of Asian cultural histories are central to understanding our world.

Reflecting an understanding of the cultural richness and complexity of Asian modernities, the symposium features cross-disciplinary approaches, encompassing art history, sociology, anthropology, media and visual cultural studies, which highlight the layered richness of cultural experience within, between and beyond nations. Keynote speakers who have worked with Professor Clark over the years have been invited to indicate the breadth of his research legacy. Tilting the World is a free event, and a full list of speakers including keynote, can be found below. Registration will open in early September. A selection of papers will also be published after the symposium as a peer-reviewed volume by Power Publications.

Venue: University of Sydney, New Law School Auditorium 101


9:15–9:30 WELCOME – Prof. Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute

9:30–10:50 Session 1 – Negotiations
Sarena Abdullah | Universiti Sains Malaysia
Contesting the narrative: modern Malaysian art in the early 20th century

Clare Veal | University of Sydney
Relativisation in Asian Photographies: the Siamese case

Yvonne Low | University of Sydney
Circumventing gender: women artists in the early art academies of modern Indonesia

10:50–11:15 MORNING TEA

11:15–12:55 Session 2 – Formations
Nozomi Naoi | Harvard University
Beyond the ‘bijin’: Takehisa Yumeji at the intersection of the popular and avant-garde

Cai Heng | National Art Gallery, Singapore
Modern and contemporary transformations of Chinese ink painting

Michelle Wong | Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong
Riding the new waves: ‘Meishu Sichao’ (1984-1987) as platform of self-definition and self-instruction

Natalie Seiz | Art Gallery of NSW
Artistic types across generations: descriptors of difference amongst contemporary women artists in Taiwan

12:55–14:15 LUNCH

14:15–16:05 Session 3 – Visions
Simon Soon | University of Sydney
Along other historical sightlines: landscapes as condition of being

Kedar Vishvanathan | University of Sydney
Indian nationalism: the Bengal School and Chittoprasad Bhattacharya

William Ray Langenbach | Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia; Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
Standing still is advancing forward: nationalist teleology and self-reliance in Singaporean and North Korean art and performance

Sophie McIntyre | Australian National University
The rise of China and cross-Strait relations in art from Taiwan

16:05–16:30 AFTERNOON TEA

Mizusawa Tsutomu | Museum of Modern Art Hayama, Kamakura, Japan
Depicting the City: Fragmented Memory, Reality and Future – the example of modern Japanese art


Venue morning: Old Law School Assembly Hall, Sydney CBD
Venue afternoon: Art Gallery of New South Wales main lecture theatre

9:15–11:00 Session 4 – Challenging Traditions
Rhiannon Paget | University of Sydney
Being old fashioned in modern Japan: the making of a platform and an audience for literati painting (‘nanga’) in the early 20th century

Dr. Hsieh Shih-ying | National Museum of History, Taipei
The negotiation with modernity: Taiwanese temple painter Pan Chunyuan of the Japanese period

Phoebe Scott | National Art Gallery, Singapore
Representing worlds in transition: on two early examples of modern Vietnamese art

Changkyu Lee | State University of New York
Sacred possession and eternal consumption: the spiritual reconciliation of Islamic painting in Southeast Asia

11:00–11:15 MORNING TEA

11:15–12:15 Special Session – Asia-Australia artistic engagement in practice
John Young, visual artist, Melbourne
Kim Machan, curator and director of Media Art Asia Pacific, Brisbane

12:15–13:30 LUNCH

13.30 Move to Art Gallery of New South Wales, main lecture theatre


13:40–15:30 Session 5 – Contemporaries
Reiko Tomii | Independent scholar, New York
When Martians came to Tokyo: an origin of Gutai

Anne Kirker | Queensland College of Art and Griffith University
Counterpointing the ‘hanga’ (prints) of Noda Tetsuya and Shimada Yoshiko

Juliane Noth | Freie Universität Berlin
Schizophrenic convergence: art, science and biography in Shi Lu’s works of 1969/70

Eva Bentcheva | School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Escaping the na(rra)tive in 1960s’ Britain: David Medalla’s fusion of Asian iconography and performance art

15:30–15:45 Afternoon Tea

Werner Kraus | Professor, Passau University; director, Centre for Southeast Asian Art, Germany
Aesthetic colonisation: how Western images entered Javanese minds – tracing the evidence

16:30 SUMMA

Prof. John Clark remarks



Please download the symposium program here.

Please download the program with abstracts here.


IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE: to register for BOTH DAYS of the symposium, please ensure you complete both the online forms for the respective days.

Please follow the links to register online via the University events calendar:

To register for DAY ONE Friday 29 November, please click here.

To register for DAY TWO Saturday 30 November, please click here.


Further enquiries should be directed to Dr Olivier Krischer E: with “Asian Art Symposium” in the e-mail subject line.

The symposium is proudly presented by the Power Institute in partnership with the Art Gallery of NSW.

Image (detail): Wadachi Tomo-o, Self-portrait with Spectacles, 1923, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama.