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Tracing Euro-American modernism, post-modernism and post-colonial image making in South East Asian art 1930s to 1990s:

The Image of Women in The Shanghai Posters

The following is an analysis of a series of postcard images issued in the late 1990s in Singapore of paintings from the 30s and 40s. The paper traces the transposition of specific ideas related to woman as other, evident in late 19th century European painting and Euro-American Modernism, which appear to have been imposed and reinforced through Colonialist strategies by introduction and appropriation of Western style image-making into South east Asia.

The methodological approach applied in the presentation will be pro-visualist, advocating the intelligence of sight, i.e., intelligent seeing being the means by which the artist/designer/craftsperson not only develops his/her skill as an artmaker, but was the method employed by artists of the South-East Asian region to appropriate Western styles. It is a method I will be using to defabricate the loading of the images with anti-female concepts such as woman as: other, object of exchange, animal, idol of perversity, machine and shit.

Most of the images were produced to advertise commercial products such as soap, battery operated objects, condensed milk and cosmetics, indicating that the subliminal, anti-woman message was widely disseminated. In other words, the power of the image was the sole means by which complex messages were communicated. The fact that the paintings have been reissued in the late 90s as nostalgic postcards alluding to a bygone exotic era, reinforces certain clich?beliefs held in the West about Asia. Moreover, European fashion designers such as those working for the House of Dior, have in their current collections, created the Asian femme fatale "look", suggesting that by purchasing their clothes and makeup any woman can become like those depicted in the cards. <<<Back  More>>>

 

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