A glossary of global art terms, alongside jargon and phrases coined in Southeast Asia. These definitions cite examples of artists, exhibitions, techniques, and more, in which the phrases have been applied.

  • Abstract art

    Art in which the artist has begun the process of creating with a chosen visual object and abstracted elements from it to arrive at a simplified or structured form. The term is also used to describe art using forms that have no basis at all in external existence. A group of hypothetical ideas lies behind abstract art: the notion of art for art’s sake; art’s effects should be created by pure patterns of form, colour and line. The idea is that the chief form of beauty lies not in the forms of the physical world, but in geometry; the notion that abstract art, to the extent that it does not represent the material world, can be seen to embody the spiritual. Overall, abstract art is seen as carrying a moral aspect, in that it can be seen to stand for virtues such as order, purity, simplicity, and spirituality. Western pioneers of abstract painting were Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian from about 1910-20. Source: The National Museum of the Philippines. AWDB highlighted artist: Hernando Ruiz Ocampo. 
  • Animation

    The rapid display of sequences of static imagery in such a way as to create the illusion of movement. The history of animation dates back to early Chinese shadow lanterns and the optical toys of the eighteenth century, but it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that illustrators like Émile Cohl began drawing cartoon strips on to celluloid. The most famous animator was Walt Disney, best known for his cartoon feature films like Fantasia and The Jungle Book. Computer animation began in the 1960s and is animation’s digital successor. Using software programs like Adobe Flash, animators build up sequences on a computer to be used as special effects in film, called Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), or as animated sequences in their own right. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo have become forums for computer animation, bypassing the traditional galleries and museums as the spaces for enterprise. Source: AWDB Highlighted artist: Bjorn Calleja  
  • Animism

    Animismis a belief that events in the world are mobilized by the activities of spirits. In visual, media and performance art it is often used to explore the dualisms of people and things. Source: (partial). AWDB highlighted artist: Rodel Tapaya   
  • Appropriation

    As a term in art history and criticism, this refers to the taking over, into a work of art, of a real object or even an existing work of art. The practice can be tracked back to the Cubist constructions and collages of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque made from 1912 onwards, in which real objects, such as newspapers, were included to represent themselves. Appropriation was developed much further in the ready-mades created by the French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp from 1913. Most notorious of these was Fountain, a men’s urinal signed, titled and presented on a pedestal. Later, Surrealism also made extensive use of appropriation in collages and objects, such as Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone. In the late 1950s, appropriated images and objects appear extensively in the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, and in Pop art. However, the term seems to have come into use specifically in relation to certain American artists in the 1980s, notably Sherrie Levine and the artists of the Neo-Geo group, particularly Jeff Koons. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship, and belongs to the long modernist tradition of art that questions the nature or definition of art itself. Appropriation has been used extensively by artists since the 1980s. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Andres Barrioquinto 

  • Art intervention

    The term art intervention applies to art designed specifically to interact with an existing structure or situation, be it another artwork, the audience, an institution or in the public domain. The popularity for art interventions emerged in the 1960s, when artists attempted to radically transform the role of the artist in society, and thereby society itself. They are most commonly associated with conceptual art and performance art. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Tiffany Chung.  
  • Arte povera

    Arte povera was a radical Italian art movement from the late 1960s to 1970s whose artists explored a range of unconventional processes and non-traditional ‘everyday’ materials.  Arte povera means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Materials used by the artists included soil, rags and twigs. In using such throwaway materials, they aimed to challenge and disrupt the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system.  The heyday of the movement was from 1967–1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. It can also be seen as the Italian contribution to conceptual art. In Japan, the mono-ha group looked into the essence of materials and stepped away from technological modernism. In the United States, the terms anti-form and post-minimalism were used to describe work that rejected the fixed industrial shapes and sleek forms of minimalist sculpture. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Montien Boonma.
  • Artefact

    Anartefactis an ornament, tool, or other object that is made by a human being, especially one that is historically or culturally interesting.In the context of contemporary art, the artefacts that the artist produces make use of a multitude of communicative and stylistic objects and devices, to influence the perspective of the spectator about the topic being presented. The purpose is to cause that subject to be seen in a particular light. In this way, the art object communicates what the artist wishes to convey. Source: and the AWDB team.AWDB highlighted artist:Alya Hatta. 
  • Artist-in-residence

    An artist who has been given time, space and financial aid by an institution or a community in order to create art. Residencies can exist anywhere, but they are usually attached to some kind of institution; a gallery, a museum, an arts centre, a university or a college, although increasingly there are artists-in-residence programs being established in large corporations, science laboratories, hospitals and airports. The subject matter the artist chooses to work with is often inspired by the organization in which the artist is in residence, but not always. Residencies are for a specified time and are not meant to be endless. Source: AWDB highlighted organisation: STPI. 
  • Banal Objects

    Banal objects are regular objects that we see in everyday life.   Source: AWDB team. AWDB Highlighted artist: Singaporean artist Boo Sze Yang  treats banal objects, modern architectural interiors, and destructive scenes as metaphors for the human condition.  
  • Batik

    Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to the whole cloth and is Javanese (Java, Indonesia) in origin. The root wordis bathikanand means "drawing" or "writing".  Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting, or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. Batik is now also part of the culture in other parts of Southeast Asia including Malaysia and Singapore. Source: and the AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Pacita Abad.  
  • Bauhaus

    Bauhaus was a revolutionary school of art, architecture and design established by Walter Gropius at Weimar in Germany in 1919.  The Bauhaus teaching method replaced the traditional pupil-teacher relationship with the idea of a community of artists working together. Its aim was to bring art back into contact with everyday life, and architecture, performing arts, design and applied arts were therefore given as much weight as fine art. The name is a combination of the German words for building (bau) and house (haus) and may have been intended to evoke the idea of a guild or fraternity working to build a new society. Teachers included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers.  The Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925–6 where Gropius created a new building for the school. In 1932 it moved to Berlin where it was closed in 1933 by the Nazis. Its influence was immense, especially in the USA, where many artists moved before and during the Second World War.  Source:  AWDB Highlighted artist:  Irfan Hendrian 
  • Biennial (biennale)

    In the art context, biennial has come to mean a large international exhibition held every two years. The first was the Venice Biennale in 1895, which was situated in the Giardini, a public park, and now houses thirty permanent national pavilions and many smaller temporary structures hosting art from around the globe. The late twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in biennials and by 2007 there were some fifty across the world. This explosion of large-scale international art exhibitions mirrors the financial boom in international art buying. The first Southeast Asian country to present a biennial was Indonesia in 1968 with the Grand Exhibition of Indonesian Painting (Pameran Besar Seni Lukis Indonesia). The name was changed to Jakarta Biennale in 1975. Source: and Highlighted Biennale: Bangkok Art Biennale.  
  • Body art

    Body art is art in which the body, often that of the artist, is the principal medium and focus. It includes much performance art, where the artist is directly concerned with the body in the form of improvised or choreographed actions, happenings and staged events. It is also used for explorations of the body in a variety of other media including painting, sculpture, photography, film and video. It is generally concerned with issues of gender and personal identity. A major theme is the relationship of body and mind, explored in work consisting of feats of physical endurance designed to test the limits of the body and the ability of the mind to suffer pain. In some work, the body is seen as the vehicle for language. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: KV Duong.  
  • Chiaroscuro

    Chiaroscuro is an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted. Western artists who are famed for the use of chiaroscuro include Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. Leonardo employed it to give a vivid impression of the three-dimensionality of his figures, while Caravaggio used such contrasts for the sake of drama. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Ho Tzu Nyen. 

  • Collage

    Used to describe both the technique and the resulting work of art in which pieces of paper, photographs, fabric and other ephemera are arranged and stuck down to a supporting surface. Collage can also include other media such as painting and drawing, and may contain three-dimensional elements. The term collage derives from the French words papier collé or decoupage, used to describe techniques of pasting paper cut-outs on to various surfaces. It was first used as an artists’ technique in the twentieth century. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Pinky Ibarra Urmaza. 
  • Collective

    Loosely defined, an art collective is a group of artists working together to achieve a common objective. Artists working within a collective are united by shared ideologies, aesthetics and, or, political beliefs. In the early modern period, there were roughly two forms of art collective. Those who sought to bring about social change by cultural means like the futurists. They looked towards the future where they envisioned a radically new way of life. Others, like the dada artists, represented the psychological consequences of the loss of a pre-modern existence and reflected that in their art. They spoke for a collective group, in this case those mentally and physically scarred by the First World War. Today, thanks to social media, art collectives have an extraordinary global reach, giving them the power to bring about change through direct action. Collectives today are about the present and how they can change society in the here and now. Source: AWDB highlighted collective: ruangrupa.
  • Conceptual art

    Conceptual art is art for which the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the finished art object. It emerged as an art movement in the 1960s and the term usually refers to art made from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s but has been hugely influential since. Conceptual artists do not set out to make a paintingor a sculpture and then fit their ideas to that existing form. Instead they think beyond thelimits of those traditional media, and then work out their concept or idea in whatevermaterials and whatever form is appropriate. Source: and AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Aung Ko
  • Contemporary art

    The term contemporary art generally describes art of the present day and of the recent past. It mostly includes art that is revolutionary or avant-garde in nature. Contemporary Southeast Asian art’s influences are often dissociated from that of external cultures, influences, and current events. Southeast Asian art instead tends to reflect themes relevant to its local and regional audiences, each country’s colonial and post- Cold War history, and of existing domestic cultural movements and narratives. It is still in a nascent stage but is gaining increasing visibility outside of the region. Some of its artists have achieved local, regional and global success.Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artists include all artists featured on this website. 
  • Cultural appropriation

    As a term in art history and criticism, cultural appropriation refers to the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Pacita Abad. (Art practices she absorbed during her travels all informed her subject matter.) 
  • Curator

    The role of the curator has evolved within the past twenty or so years from strictly being employed by museums to present temporary exhibitions, arrange displays of the museum’s own permanent collection, and making acquisitions for the institution’s collection. There are now independent curators who are not attached to an institution and who have their own distinctive ways of creating exhibitions. They are often invited by galleries to curate, and/or propose exhibitions in a wide-ranging variety of venues, both within and outside the traditional gallery system, as well as online. Source: AWDB team. 
  • Cyanotype

    The cyanotype is a camera-less photographic technique and printing process that produces blue prints using coated paper and light. Itinvolveslaying an object on paper coated with a solution of iron salts before exposing it to UV light and washing with water to create stunning white and Prussian blue images. Source: AWD team and Kew Gardens. AWDB highlighted artist: Corinne De San Jose.

  • Dada

    Dada is an art movement that was formed during the First World War in Zurich in negative reaction to the horrors and folly of the war. The art, poetry and performance produced by dada artists is often satirical and nonsensical in nature. Dada artists felt the war called into question every aspect of a society capable of starting and then prolonging it – including its art. Their aim was to destroy traditional values in art and to create a new art to replace the old. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Ayka Go.
  • Diaspora

    Diaspora is a term used to describe movements in population from one country to another and is often cited in discussions about identity.  In relation to art, the term diaspora is used to discuss artists who have migrated from one part of the world to another, (or whose families have), and who express their diverse experiences of culture and identity in the work they make; often expressing alternative narratives and challenging the ideas and structures of the established art world.  Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Erika Tan. 
  • Digital art

    Digital Art is a term used to describe art that is made or presented using digital technology. The first use of the term digital art was in the early 1980s when computer engineers devised a paint program which was used by the pioneering digital artist Harold Cohen. Since then, digital technology has become more sophisticated. In more recent times some digital art has become interactive, allowing the audience a certain amount of control over the final image. Many digital artists have utilised digital art for NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) digital assets that use blockchain to protect physical artworks from plagiarism and to certify their authenticity and ownership. Source: and the AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: The Next Most Famous Artist. 
  • Dissident art

    Dissident art, or activist art describes art that actively challenges an established political or religious system, doctrine, belief, policy, or institution. Southeast Asian art is synonymous with dissident art because the region has suffered devastating conflicts throughout its recent past and present. Thus, Southeast Asian contemporary art has rarely been related to art as art for art’s sake, but has mostly been politically and socially commentative. Source: the AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Kamol Phaosavasdi.
  • Drawing

    Essentially drawing is a technique in which images are depicted on a flat surface by making lines, though drawings can also contain tonal areas, washes and other non-linear marks. Ink, pen, pencil, crayon, charcoal and chalk are the most commonly used materials, but drawings can be made with or in combination with paint and any other wet or dry media. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Kuncir Sathya Viku. 
  • Durational Art

    Durational artis a type ofperformanceart wherein works specifically address and use time as an active element in the work in order to affect, change, and create meaning.  Source: PerformanceArt Resources. AWDB highlighted artist: Melati Suryodarmo.

  • Embossing

    An embossed surface is a raised or depressed surface created during printmaking processes.  In printmaking any process used to create a raised or depressed surface is referred to as embossing. This is sometimes used to create false plate-marks in lithographs or screenprints. Source: AWDB highlighted organisation: STPI. 
  • Embroidery

    Embroideryis the craft of decorating fabric or other materials with thread or yarn using a needle. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Cian Dayrit.
  • Engraving

    Engraving is a printmaking technique that involves making incisions into a metal plate which retain the ink and form the printed image.  The design is manually incised into an engraving plate using a burin, an engraving tool like a very fine chisel with a lozenge-shaped tip. The burin makes incisions into the metal at various angles and with varying pressure which dictates the quantity of ink the line can hold – hence variations in width and darkness when printed. The technique of engraving metal dates from classical antiquity as a method of decorating objects. However, it was not until about 1430 in Germany that engraved plates began to be used for making prints. Photoengraving is a process using acid to etch a photographically produced image onto a metal plate that can then be printed from.  Like etching and aquatint, engraving is an intaglio technique. Intaglio refers to all printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. Source: AWDB highlighted organisation: STPI. 
  • Environmental Art

    Environmental art, also known as Earth or Land art, is art that is made directly in thelandscape,sculpting the land itself into earthworks or making structures in thelandscapeusing natural materials such as rocks or twigs. It can also be art in which artists make artworks in an art space, such as a gallery or museum, by bringing in material from the landscape and using it to create installations. Source: and AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Ruangsak Anuwatwimon. 
  • Feminist art

    Feminist artgenerally seeks to challenge the dominance of a patriarchal society, to gain acknowledgement and equality for women artists, and to question assumptions about womanhood and societal beliefs. Western feminist art has frequently gone together with women’s liberation movements and notions of feminism and feminist art is often viewed through a lens of transnationalism. However, themes in feminist art vary from culture to culture and modern and contemporary Eastern perspectives differ from those in the West, with vast differences between countries. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Amanda Heng.  
  • Fluxus

    Fluxus is an international avant-garde collective or network of artists and composers founded in the 1960s and still continuing today.  Founded in 1960 by the Lithuanian/American artist George Maciunas, Fluxus began as a small but international network of artists and composers and was characterised as a shared attitude rather than a movement. Rooted in experimental music, it was named after a magazine which featured the work of musicians and artists centred around avant-garde composer John Cage.  Fluxus had no single unifying style. Artists used a range of media and processes adopting a ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude to creative activity, often staging random performances and using whatever materials were at hand to make art. Seeing themselves as an alternative to academic art and music, Fluxus was a democratic form of creativity open to anyone. Collaborations were encouraged between artists and across art forms, and with the audience or spectator. It valued simplicity and anti-commercialism, with chance and accident playing a big part in the creation of works, and humour also being an important element. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Montien Boonma.
  • Formalism

    Formalismdescribes the critical position that the most important aspect of a work of art is its form – the way it is made and its purely visual aspects – rather than its narrative content or its relationship to the visible world. In painting therefore, a formalist critic would focus exclusively on the qualities of colour, brushwork, form, line and composition.  Source:  AWDB highlighted artist: Ash Ghazali. 
  • Gestural

    Gestural is a term used to describe the application of paint in free-sweeping gestures with a brush.  The term originally came into use to describe the painting of the abstract expressionist artists Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Hans Hofmann and others (also referred to as action painters). In Pollock’s case the brush might be a dried one, or a stick, dipped in the paint and trailed over the canvas. He also poured direct from the can. The idea was that the artist would physically act out his inner impulses, and that something of his emotion or state of mind would be read by the viewer in the resulting paint marks. Source AWDB highlighted artist: Erizal As.  
  • Glocal

    Describing the seamless integration between the local and global; the comprehensive connectedness produced by travel, business, and communications; willingness and ability to think globally and act locally. Source: Oxford Reference. AWDB highlighted artist: Kuncir Sathya Viku. 
  • Gynophobia

    Gynophobia is defined as an intense and irrational fear of women. It may be characterized as a form of specific phobia. Gynophobia should not be confused with misogyny, which is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls, while gynophobia is anxiety-based and involves a fear response. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen. (In her series ‘Gynophobia’ the Philippina-Danish artist hypnotises the audience to become or stay feminists.)   
  • Hyper-realism

    Hyper-realism is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling high-resolution photographs. The term began appearing in the 1970s and was used to define a revival of exceptional realism in sculpture and painting. Also called super-realism, in painting the term is synonymous with photorealism. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Aiman. 
  • Iconography

    Iconography in a painting is the images presented in it and is ascribed by an artist to any object or image that is prominent or has a distinctive connotation attached to it. In the field of academia, Iconography (or iconology) is also the study of images in art and their meanings. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Khairulddin Wahab. 
  • Installation

    Installation is defined as mixed media compositions or assemblages generally created for a certain location and for a brief period. The artworks which comprise the installation can inhabit an entire room, gallery space, or other venue, that the viewer walks through to fully immerse themselves in the experience of the work. Some are devised for walking around the work’s perimeter, while others are tactile and meant to be touched by the spectator. A vast and diverse breadth of materials, such as light, sound, food, and videos, just to name a few, have remained central to installation art. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Mulyana. 
  • Intaglio

    Intagliois a general term for metal-plate printmaking techniques, including etching, drypoint, engraving, aquatint, and mezzotint. The word comes from the Italian intagliare, meaning “to incise” or “to carve.” In intaglio printing, the lines or areas that hold the ink are incised below the surface of the plate, and printing relies on the pressure of a press to force damp paper into these incised lines or areas, to pick up ink.  Also see Engraving. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook 
  • Jiwa

    Jiwa is a Bahasa (Indonesian) word that translates to English as 'soul'. Jiwa can be taken to mean a basic human impulse, togetherness, society, nature, or anything intangible and spiritual. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Melati Suryodarmo, who was the artistic director of the 2017 Jakarta Biennale. She put forward the concept 'jiwa' to discuss wide-ranging issues and inquiries into contemporary arts and culture.
  • Kinaesthetic

    Kinaesthetic art is art that deals with the body in movement. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Lee Wen.
  • Kinetic art

    Kinetic art is art that depends on motion for its effects. The word kinetic means relating to motion. Since the early twentieth century artists have been incorporating movement into art. This has been partly to explore the possibilities of movement, partly to introduce the element of time, partly to reflect the importance of the machine and technology in the modern world and partly to explore the nature of vision. Movement has either been produced mechanically by motors, as in kinetic art pioneer Naum Gabo’s ‘Standing Wave’ of 1919–20; or by exploiting the natural movement of air in a space – referred to as mobilesAlexander Calder began to create mobiles from around 1930. AWDB highlighted artist: Suzann Victor. Source:
  • Land art

    Land art or earth art is art that is made directly in the landscape, sculpting the land itself into earthworks or making structures in the landscape using natural materials such as rocks or twigs. Source:
  • Landscape

    Landscape is one of the principal types or genres of subject in art from all cultures. The appreciation of nature for its own sake, and its choice as a specific subject for art, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until the seventeenth century landscape was confined to the background of portraits or paintings dealing principally with religious, mythological or historical subjects. Today, landscape continues to be a major theme in art with many artists using documentary techniques such as video, photography and classification processes to explore the ways we relate to the places we live in and to record the impact we have on the land and our environment. Source:
  • Lumbung

    Lumbung as an artistic and economic model is rooted in principals such as collectivity, communal resource sharing, and equal allocation. AWDB highlighted organisation: Lumbung is embodied in all parts of the collaboration and 'document15' exhibition, curated by the Indonesian artist collective ruangrupa. Source:
  • Male gaze

    The male gaze is a manner of treating women's bodies as objects to be surveyed, which is associated by feminists with hegemonic masculinity, both in everyday social interaction and in relation to their representation in visual media. AWDB recommended reading: John Berger’s investigation into the male gaze in his book ‘Ways of Seeing’. Source:
  • Medium

    In relation to art, this term has two principal overlapping, even slightly confusing meanings. Painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking are all media of art in the sense of a type of art. However, the term can also refer to the materials of the work. For example, a sculpture in the medium of bronze or marble; a painting in the medium of oil paint on canvas, tempera on panel or watercolour on paper; a drawing in the medium of graphite or crayon; a print in the medium of etching or lithography. In modern artists, from Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp onwards, have established that art can be made of absolutely any material, so the media of modern art, in that sense, have ranged from appropriated or found objects and materials of all kinds, to the artist’s own bodily excretions and the body itself. Many modern works are made from a variety of such things and the term mixed media has had to be coined to take account of this. This expansion of media, in the sense of materials, has given rise to new media in the overarching sense of a type of art. For example, assemblage, installation and performance are all three-dimensional art forms sufficiently distinct from traditional sculpture to become considered new media in themselves. In the case of the first two, the medium from which they are usually made is a variety of materials, that is, mixed media. Performance art uses the artist’s own body as the material or medium. Finally, in a third meaning, the term medium also refers to the liquid in which the pigment is suspended to make paint. So, the medium of the medium of oil paint is linseed oil.
  • Mixed media

    Works composed of different media. The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the Cubist constructions and collages of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and has become widespread as artists developed increasingly open attitudes to the media of art. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things.
  • Modernism

    Modernism refers to a global movement in society and culture that from the early decades of the twentieth century sought a new alignment with the experience and values of modern industrial life. Building on late nineteenth-century precedents, artists around the world used new imagery, materials and techniques to create artworks that they felt better reflected the realities and hopes of modern societies. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Chin Wan Kee.
  • Monograph

    The study of an artist's lifetime and oeuvre. Although many artists have produced vast bodies of work over their lifetimes, monographs endeavour to identify and review a particular body of work or project that embodies the artist’s research in its totality, conveying the heart of their aesthetic style and methodology. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen’s monograph I Am Not What You See.
  • Multimedia

    First used in the 1960s in relation to mixed media works that had an electronic element. Andy Warhol’s events staged with the rock group the Velvet Underground, under the title of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which combined music, performance, film and lighting, were described as multimedia. Since the late 1970s multimedia has come to define an artwork that uses a combination of electronic media, which could include video, film, audio and computers.
  • New media

    A term used to describe the sophisticated technologies that have become available to artists since the late 1980s. New media defines the mass influx of media, from the CD-ROM, to the mobile phone and the internet, that can enable the production and distribution of art digitally. Websites like DeviantArt and YouTube are key aspects of new media, being places that can distribute art to millions of people at the click of a button.
  • Oil paint

    Oil paint is a form of slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil that forms a tough, coloured film on exposure to air.  The drying oil is a vegetable oil, often made by crushing nuts or seeds. For paints, linseed oil is most commonly used, but poppy, sunflower, safflower, soya bean and walnut oils can also been used. The advantage of the slow-drying quality of oil paint is that an artist can develop a painting gradually, making changes or corrections if necessary.  Oil paints blend well with each other, making subtle variations of colour possible as well as more easily creating details of light and shadow. They can also be diluted with turpentine or other thinning agents. A heavily diluted layer dries relatively quickly, being tack-free in a few days. Thicker layers, containing more oil, take longer. Oil paint continues to dry, getting harder with age over many decades. Pigments and extenders will also affect the rate of drying, so different colours may dry at different speeds. AWDB highlighted artist: Rafiee Ghani. Source:
  • Painting

    What we call art in all its forms – painting, sculpture, drawing and engraving – appeared in human groups all over the world in the period known as the Upper Paleolithic, which is roughly from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. Since then, painting has changed in essence very little. Supports evolved from rock faces, through the walls of buildings, to portable ones of paper, wood, and finally cloth, particularly canvas. The range of pigments expanded through a wide range of earths and minerals, to plant extracts and modern synthetic colours. Pigments have been mixed with water and gum to make paint, but in the fifteenth century in Europe the innovation of using oil (linseed) produced a newly flexible and durable medium that played a major part in the explosion of creativity in Western painting at the Renaissance and after. At the same time subject matter expanded to embrace almost every aspect of life.
  • Palimpsest

    The term palimpsest is used to refer to any writing material that is altered or recycled to use it more than once. In the ancient ages, writing materials were rare, therefore the writings on manuscripts and other objects or writing surfaces were effaced by washing, scraping, or erasing the original text in order to reuse it. In the early days, palimpsest was used as part of recycling. Palimpsests often reveal the history of an object or a painting as they often include erased marks/visible traces of previous work. A close observation of traditional paintings may reveal different layers and the changes made to the original work. AWDB highlighted artist: Anida Yoeu Ali in her 2009 performance ‘Palimpsest for Generation 1.5’. Source:  
  • Participatory art

    Participatory art is a term that describes a form of art that directly engages the audience in the creative process so that they become participants in the event. In this respect, the artist is seen as a collaborator and a co-producer of the situation (with the audience), and these situations can often have an unclear beginning or end. AWDB highlighted artist: Melati Suryodarmo. Source:
  • Patina

    The word patina usually refers to a distinct green or brown surface layer on bronze sculpture. Patina can be created naturally by the oxidising effect of the atmosphere or weather, or artificially by the application of chemicals. AWDB highlighted artist: Zulkifli Lee. Source:
  • Performance

    Art in which the medium in the artist’s own body and the artwork takes the form of actions performed by the artist. Performance art has origins in Futurism and Dada, but became a major phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s and can be seen as a branch of Conceptual art. In Germany and Austria it was known as Actionism. An important influence on the emergence of Performance art was the photographs of the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock making his so-called action paintings, taken in 1950 by the photographer Hans Namuth. Performance art had its immediate origins in the more overtly theatrical happenings organized by Allan Kaprow and others in New York in the late 1950s. By the mid-1960s this theatrical element was being stripped out by early Performance artists such as Vito Acconci and Bruce Nauman. In Europe, the German artist Joseph Beuys was a hugely influential pioneer of Performance art, making a wide impact with his ‘actions’ from 1963 on. These were powerful expressions of the pain of human existence, and complex allegories of social and political issues and man’s relationship to nature. In Britain, the artist duo Gilbert & George made highly original performance works from 1969. A major problem for early Performance artists was the ephemeral nature of the medium. Right from the start Performance pieces were recorded in photography, film and video, and these eventually became the primary means by which Performance reached a wide public.
  • Photography

    Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of light on a light-sensitive material. The word photograph was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek word ‘phos’, meaning ‘light’, and ‘graphê’, meaning ‘drawing’ – so 'drawing with light'. A photograph can be either a positive or negative image. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus an object’s visible wavelengths (the light reflected or emitted from it) into a reproduction on a light-sensitive surface of what the human eye would see. AWDB highlighted artist: Robert Zhao Renhui. Source:  
  • Portrait

    A portrait is a representation of a particular person. A self-portrait is a portrait of the artist by the artist. Portraiture is a very old art form going back at least to ancient Egypt, where it flourished from about 5,000 years ago. Before the invention of photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone. AWDB highlighted artist: Andres BarrioquintoSource:
  • Postcolonial

    Postcolonial art refers to art produced in response to the aftermath of colonial rule, frequently addressing issues of national and cultural identity, race and ethnicity. Source: highlighted artist: Sinta Tantra.
  • Practice

    The term refers to the ways in which an artist goes about their work. Artistic practice goes beyond the physical activities of making artistic products and can include influences, ideas, materials as well as tools and skills. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Geraldine Lim.
  • Print

    A work of art on paper that usually exists in multiple copies. It is created not by drawing directly on paper, but through a transfer process. The artist begins by creating a composition on another surface, such as metal or wood, and the transfer occurs when that surface is inked and a sheet of paper, placed in contact with it, is run through a printing press. Four common printmaking techniques are woodcut, etching, lithography, and screenprint. Source: AWDB Highlighted artist: Maharani Mancanagara 
  • Printmaking

    Printmaking is the process of transferring images from a medium onto another surface such as paper or fabric. Printing presses were mainly established by European colonists who spread the practice throughout Southeast Asia. Introducing Western printing methods such as letterpress printing and lithography, authorities distributed official government information and Christian beliefs throughout the general population. Modern artists have expanded available techniques to include screenprinting. Sources: BiblioAsia from the National Library Singapore and the AWDB team. AWDB highlighted organisation: STPI Creative Workshop and Gallery 
  • Public art

    Public art is artwork that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on public or private property or whether it has been purchased with public or private money. Usually, but not always, the art has been commissioned specifically for the site in which it is situated (site-specific). Monuments, memorials and civic statues and sculptures are the most established forms of public art, but public art can also be transitory, in the form of performances, dance, theatre, poetry, graffiti, posters, street art and installations. Public art can often be used as a political tool, like the propaganda posters and statues of the Soviet Union (agit-prop) or the murals painted by the Ulster Unionists in Northern Ireland. Public art can also be a form of civic protest, as in the graffiti sprayed on the sides of New York Subway trains in the 1980s.
  • Relief

    A relief is a wall-mounted sculpture in which the three-dimensional elements are raised from a flat base. Any three-dimensional element attached to a basically flat wall mounted work of art is said to be in relief or a relief element. AWDB highlighted artist: Anne Samat. Source:
  • Rendering

    Rendering is a representation, executed in perspective, of a proposed structure. AWDB highlighted artist: Mangu Putra. Source:
  • Rerajahan

    Rerajahan is a visual mantra that is one of the importance elements of yadna (offering), performed by Balinese people. It is written on the leaves of many plants such as banyan, lotus flower, and paso and is meant as a medium to induce the mind of the maker so that energy can be made to be used for the purpose intended by its maker. Source: AWDB team. AWDB highlighted artist: Kuncir Sathya Viku. 
  • Sculpture

    A sculpture is a three-dimensional artwork made by one of four basic processes. These are carving (in stone, wood, ivory or bone); modelling in clay; modelling (in clay or wax) and then casting the model in bronze; constructing (a twentieth-century development). AWDB highlighted artist: Han Sai Por. Source: 
  • Seik-ta-za-bagyi

    Seik-ta-za-bagyi means “mad art” – an expression still used in Myanmar to refer to “modern art”. AWDB Hightlighted Artist: Bagyi Aung Soe  Source:
  • Self-portrait

    A portrait of the artist by the artist. Self-portraits are an interesting subgroup of portraiture and can often be highly self-revelatory.
  • Shaman

    Shaman is an individual believed to have special magical powers; a sorcerer or witch doctor. A medicine man in ‘primitive’ societies, often with supernatural powers, who was capable of healing or harming. AWDB highlighted artist: Choy Ka Fai   Source:  
  • Site-specific

    Refers to a work of art designed specifically for a particular location and that has an interrelationship with the location. If removed from the location, it would lose all or a substantial part of its meaning. Site-specific is often used to describe installation works, and Land art is site-specific almost by definition.
  • Still life

    Still life is one of the principle genres (subject types) of Western Art. Essentially, the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead. So still life includes all kinds of man-made or natural objects: cut flowers, fruit, vegetables, fish, game, wine and so on. Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, but it is often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life. In modern art, simple still life arrangements have often been used as a relatively neutral basis for formal experiment, for example by Paul Cezanne and the Cubist painters. Note the plural of still life is still lifes, and the term is not hyphenated. AWDB highlighted artist: Natee Utarit. Source:
  • Stupa

    The stupa is the most ancient form of Buddhist art, symbolizing the monumental funerary mounds of ancient India that were appropriated into Buddhism as depositories for Buddha relics. Source: AWDB highlighted artist: Pinaree Sanpitak.


  • Surrealism

    Surrealism is a twentieth-century literary, philosophical and artistic movement that explored the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary. AWDB highlighted artist: Louise Lorenzana Source:
  • Tempera

    Tempera is the technique of painting with pigments bound in a water-soluble emulsion, such as water and egg yolk, or an oil-in-water emulsion such as oil and a whole egg. Some tempera paints are made with an artificial emulsion using gum or glue. Traditionally applied to a rigid support such as a wood panel, the paint dries to a hard film. AWDB highlighted artist: Sinta Tantra. Source:
  • Trapunto

    An Italian padded quilting technique, trapunto is a decorative quilted design in high relief worked through at least two layers of cloth by outlining the design in running stitch and padding it from the underside. Source: AWDB featured artist: Pacita Abad.
  • Triennial

    A triennial - also known as triennale - large-scale contemporary art exhibition that occurs every three years. Like a biennial, it is often attached to a particular place and is typified by its national or international outlook. The Tate Triennial showcases new developments in British art and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, which was established in 1993, is the only major international exhibition to focus on art from Asia, the Pacific and Australia. Source:
  • Trompe l’oeil

    Trompe l’oeil is a French phrase meaning ‘deceives the eye’ used to describe paintings that create the illusion of a real object or scene. AWDB highlighted artist: Zico Albaiquni  Source:
  • Underground art

    Underground art was first used in relation to the cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and early 1970s where groups of artists, writers and other creatives and thinkers were regarded as existing outside or on the fringes of popular culture. These days the term is used to describe a subculture of art, like graffiti art or comic strip art. Since the late 1990s the internet has become a forum for underground art thanks to its ability to communicate with a wide audience for free and without the support of an art establishment. Source:
  • Video

    The introduction of video in the 1960s radically altered the progress of art. The most important aspect of video was that it was cheap and easy to make, enabling artists to record and document their performances easily. This put less pressure on where their art was situated, giving them freedom outside the gallery. As video technology became more sophisticated, the art evolved from real-time, grain, black and white recordings to the present-day emphasis on large-scale installations in colour. AWDB highlighted artist: Martha Atienza. Source:
  • Watercolour

    Watercolour is a medium or work of art made with paint consisting of fine pigment particles suspended in an aqueous binder that usually consists of gum, glucose, glycerine and wetting agents, applied to paper. As watercolour is semi-transparent, the white of the paper gives a natural luminosity to the washes of colour. White areas of the image are often left unpainted to expose the paper. Watercolour paints are sold as cakes of dry paint or as liquid in tubes, to which water is added. The paint can be applied in various techniques such as wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry to obtain different effects. AWDB highlighted artist: Ayka GoSource: