Southeast Asian Arts: Where to Go

Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, is a region composed of countries with an immense diversity in culture and the arts. In fact, the only thing we might share with out neighboring countries is our physical appearances. Go to Singapore or to Indonesia and you’ll blend in just fine.

If you’re traveling to any part of the Southeast Asian region, it is well worth your time to check out the art pieces that define and show local culture and history. Artist or no artist, you owe it to yourself to get educated in the arts. It is something deeper than simply taking photos of yourself against scenic backdrops. Take your travel to another level by checking out the following venues in these different Southeast countries:

Vietnam

Vietnam Silk Painting from vietnamwartravel.com

Chinese plus French influences equals Vietnamese art. Two strong countries with distinct and influential arts clash, or rather, marry, to produce modern Vietnamese art pieces, although the French influence is more obvious in larger areas such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

Check out the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi for a trip through time as shown by paintings and other works of art.

Thailand

Thai painting from thibautvs.com

Thai art is mainly religious. Expect to see artists’ depictions and versions of various elements in Buddhism, the main religion in the country. You might get weirded out by the images, especially if they are interpretations of the already absurd images associated with Buddhism. Keep an open mind and let what you see liberate you. Afterwards you can always find comfort in Thai food. Mmmm…

For a comprehensive take on Thai art, go to the National Museum of Thailand in Bangkok.

Singapore

Image courtesy of Green Orange (http://greenorange.com.sg)

Among all the Southeast Asian countries, Singapore is the youngest. This is evidenced by the art pieces in the country, which are greatly influenced by Western styles and principles. “Modern” is the best word that can describe the arts in Singapore, and taking a tour in one of the many art galleries in the area can give you a refreshing take on Southeast Asian arts. Make sure that as you board your Air Asia flight to Singapore, you come with the intention of checking out the arts scene in the country.

Singapore Art Museum houses pieces by local and international artists, most of which are young and advocates of modern art.

Philippines

Image courtesy of Reflections of Asia (http://www.reflectionsofasia.com)

If the French largely influenced Vietnam, then Philippine art is a mish mash of different influences. Of course, the biggest influence comes from the Spanish occupants who stayed in the country for 333 years. And although most of the artists in the Philippines look to Western influences, the mark that the Spanish left will be forever etched in Philippine arts.

The Philippine National Museum provides an overview of the evolution of the country’s art scene by showcasing artworks by distinctive masters.

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