Nicola John

Project Title: Self, Other, and Self as Other: Negotiating Identity in Early Southeast Asian Modernism

My research explores the role of pre-colonial objects and motifs in Southeast Asian painting. Focusing on Indonesia and the Philippines during the late 19th and early 20th century, I am investigating the significance of these elements in the development of consciously localized visual languages which consciously assert the artists’ non-Western identity while also engaging actively with contemporary trends in Euro-American art.

I also consider the importance of colonial influence, particularly in the fields of archaeology, ethnography, art education and museology, in fostering the conditions under which these works were created. In studying the use of vernacular motifs comparatively across different colonial contexts, I seek to understand the impact of differing approaches to the documentation and administration of the region on the way artists trained within these various systems came to understand their own position in relation to both local visual tradition and Western art.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Art History

University: University of St Andrews

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