Time Out Singapore: David Chan

Finally emerging from his three-year hiatus and making a return with a new series of works, award-winning local artist David Chan tells Gwen Pew where he’s been hiding the whole time, and what his latest pieces are all about.

'Misdirection' by David Chan. Image courtesy of the artist.

‘Misdirection’ by David Chan. Image courtesy of the artist.

3 Jun 2013: While I have not been as active in the arts scene, the last three years have been a rather fruitful experience in a different way – my wife and I had our first child in 2011 and I became deliriously distracted for a good long while. Having said that, I took the chance to catch up on my reading and researched on new themes. Hence, the creation of this exhibition: Every Trick Only Needs One Truth.

‘The idea behind the title and the works is that tricks and truth are like conjoined twins; one cannot exist without the other. In order to trick a victim, one has to provide a hint of truth. Although the rest of the information may be fake, striking the right cord will convince the victim to act to your fancy. On the other hand, to foster one’s “truth”, you need to employ the tricks of marketing and promotion to appeal to the masses.

‘I decided to use animals instead of humans to represent life, because if you were to consider mediums like story books, movies, animations, etc, it’s quite amusing to realise that sometimes animal narratives seem to be able to move people more than humans can. Moreover, as humans, we respond to facial features almost instantly, whether old, young, pretty or ugly; we have preconceived ideas of faces the moment we look at them. I wanted to avoid that by using animals instead. Naturally, I have to say they are definitely more fun and challenging to paint than humans. On top of that, I have also realised that even harsher depictions become more humorous and palatable when animals are used.

‘“Misdirection” explores our obsession with this validation process and not physical beauty itself. This diptych is made up of two portraits, each obstructed by a large rosette with the words “CHAMPION” and “1st” written on them respectively. Did you notice that one of the portraits is that of a cocker spaniel while the other is of a wavy-haired girl? Perhaps at the end of the day, the subject doesn’t even matter anymore. What matters are the prizes associated with it.’

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