Time Out Singapore: ZERO

Meet ZERO, one-fifth of local art collective RSCLS – of which SKL0, aka ‘The Sticker Lady’ is also a member. Gwen Pew speaks to the master of spray cans to find out ten things about him.

ZERO at work.

ZERO at work.

14 May 2013: As urban artist ZERO displays a series of his most recent street-style paintings on canvas on the prim, white walls of Chan Hampe Galleries, we find out ten things about him.

1 Mohammed Zulkarnaen Othman’s pseudonym was inspired by the brand his favourite skateboarder started, as well as the Smashing Pumpkins’ song. ‘When I started to adopt it as my artist moniker, ZERO meant emptiness – a fresh surface that needs to be filled by additional value.’

2 When he isn’t busy painting, he lectures part-time at LASALLE.

3 He graduated from NAFA with a diploma in Visual Communications in 2000, and subsequently earned a BA for painting in 2008 from LASALLE.

4 ZERO is the only urban artist to have been part of The Substation’s Associate Artists programme, and he was also a nominee for the President’s Young Talent in 2005.

5 He first got into street art in 2003, when he and his friends from art school founded his first collective, ARTVSTS – one of the pioneering street art groups in Singapore. ‘We chose the streets as our gallery as we felt that it was the best space to show our art,’ he says.

6 He is, however, still happy that he will be displaying his works in a proper gallery: ‘I am, first and foremost, an artist. The only thing urban about my works is the fact I am using aerosol paints and stencils as a predominant medium.’

7 He decided to name his upcoming show ‘Anthology of the Abysma’ because it is a collection of his emotions and being at the particular period of time: ‘It’s a body of work borne out of the severity of my emotional and mental state.’

8 Despite having had a few solo shows in the past, this is the first one centred on paintings: ‘My first solo show was at The Substation in 2010, and even that was a whole exhibition that was supposed to be seen as an installation.’

9 It’s also a deeply personal show for him: ‘My subject matters have always been current affairs and social issues; I hardly paint that which is akin to my being as a person, both emotionally and mentally. This will be the first time people will get to see my inner self, a conflict between my two selves – ZERO and Zul Othman.’

10 He doesn’t mind painting over works that he no longer feels a connection with time and time again: ‘I have no qualms about repainting over a completed artwork of mine until I get to say what I need to say. I stop when I have already said enough.’

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