Asian art is as varied as Asia itself. Art from China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, India and even the Middle East can be considered Asian.
When most people think of Asian art, they think of ancient calligraphy and sculpture with curved lines and shapes reminiscent of boats or bows. Asian artists long ago used a variety of materials for their artwork. Ink was popular in art, but artists also used sand, stones and tiles to create masterpieces.
Religion plays a large role in this classic artwork with paintings and sculpture, often depicting the Buddha as well as gods from Asian cultures. Another theme in traditional Asian art is one of flowers. It is not uncommon to fine classic pictures of cherry blossoms, lotus blooms or other famous Asian flowers in paintings.
Much of the older art in Asia was created for a practical purpose rather than strictly as art. Pieces may have been used for cooking, carrying water, sleeping or eating. Dragon boats and housing are also examples of ancient Asian art.
Modern Asian artwork typically gives a nod to the classic themes before incorporating contemporary style. For example, a painting may be of cherry blossoms strung out across a branch. But it may be presented in the more contemporary triptych style.
Sculpture is also commonly seen in modern Asian art. The sculpture is often depicting the struggle between people’s personal needs and the challenges they face. Internal struggle is a common theme in artwork in the Asian world.
There are many respected artists of Asian descent working in the art world today. One example is Asian American artist Maya Lin. She is famous for creating the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC. Another example is modern Indian artist Subodh Gupta. He uses contemporary sculpture to comment on India’s class distinctions and culture.