This project posits London as a key, yet under-explored, site in the construction of art historical narratives in Asia, and examines its influence through the vehicles of exhibitions, patronage, art writing and art education. London, Asia will also reflect on the ways in which the growing field of modern and contemporary art history in Asia intersects with, and challenges, existing histories of British art. It is a collaborative research project with the Asia Art Archive.

London, Asia does not propose a comparative framework, but rather encourages new perspectives on the entanglements, historic and contemporary, between London and Asia. By looking at examples of particular exhibitions, events, institutions, and individuals, this project asks broader methodological questions about the ways in which the art histories of Britain and Asia have been, and are being, written, circulated, and negotiated.

Through the London, Asia project, AAA and the PMC will collaborate on a series of discussions, events, and programmes, in addition to archival and digital projects, for an initial period of three years. It will reach out to the broader community of interest to shape and realize these initiatives, and anticipate the collaborative development of a repository of digitized materials, filmed conversations, oral histories, and texts that will be made available as open-access resources. Key themes include:

  • Exhibition histories
  • Institutions, such as the Commonwealth Institute and the British Council
  • Art schools and pedagogy
  • Art writing

The project is envisaged as a series of interventions and conversations with no specific end point; rather, these initiatives and resources are intended to open up and fuel generative engagement with an area that art historians, curators, and researchers have yet to examine in a systematic and critical way.

Events and initiatives:

The first key event of London, Asia was the Showing, Telling, Seeing: Exhibiting South Asia in Britain 1900-Now conference, which was followed by a panel discussion in association with Tate on occasion of the exhibition Bhupen Khakhar at Tate Modern (2 July 2016). A report of the event is available here and the filmed proceedings of the event are also available.

Further events will focus on the impact of art schools and pedagogic practices Archival research projects which will be supported by a series of residencies and events which will be developed between 2016-2018.