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Writing the Modern: Selected Texts of T.K. Sabapathy

The Singapore Art Museum and NUS Press have recently published Writing the Modern: Selected Texts on Art & Art History in Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia, a collection of texts written by critic, curator and art historian T.K. Sabapathy between 1973 and 2015. The collection has been edited by Ahmad Mashadi, Susie Lingham, Peter Schoppert and Joyce Toh. Currently an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore (NUS), where he teaches the history of art, T.K. Sabapathy has been writing on the art of Southeast Asia for over four decades. This collection of his work, representing the scope and depth of Sabapathy’s output, and highlighting his most important and influential writings, is also a survey of the vast changes in the landscape of art in the region over the period.

A historian and educator, penetrating critic and ardent advocate, Sabapathy’s early scholarly engagements were marked by clear commitments to the art historiography of the Hindu-Buddhist traditions of Southeast Asia. He later emerged as an eloquent proponent of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art.

His art historical methods, critical documentation, deep dialogue with artists and detailed explication of their works have helped define Singapore and Malaysian art. His extensive studies of Southeast Asian art and artists have helped set the course of art discourse in the region.

This publication provides an opportunity for more focused (re)reading, review and renewed consideration of T.K. Sabapathy’s rich body of work, to further fuel modern and contemporary art writing, research and exhibition-making.

The 57 texts collected in Writing the Modern's 448 pages are only a fraction of Sabapathy's extensive output over the period covered, as the timeline of writings included in the volume clearly demonstrates. In a recent, detailed review of the book, Carmen Nge suggests that 'Sabapathy is a discerning historian because he is acutely aware of the open-endedness of art historical writing, how it can be subject to multiple, diverse interpretations, all of which tend to be highly provisional'. For additional information about Writing the Modern, please visit https://nuspress.nus.edu.sg/products/writing-the-modern-selected-texts-on-art-art-history-in-singapore-malaysia-southeast-asia