Time Out Singapore: Survive an Art Show with the Kids

5 Jun 2015: We get some tips from Rachel Ng, the lead curator of ‘Imaginarium’ about helping kids tackle the world of art

Artwork: Chiang Yu Xiang

Artwork: Chiang Yu Xiang

1) ‘Use simple and accessible terms to communicate the key ideas behind the work. Imaginarium uses slightly shorter accompanying text, but most of the time, exhibitions aren’t tailored specially for children. Profound concepts and difficult language might be used in the captions, which can be difficult for them to understand. Bear in mind that their attention spans are much shorter, too. Parents can distil the core idea and share that in their own words.’

2) ‘Ask the children questions about the work. Setting up this casual conversation between parent and child is really impactful because it compels the child to think about the work and form his or her own response to it. This process of articulation aids the thinking process about art and, in time, helps shape the child’s individual tastes and judgment.’

3) ‘Ultimately, there is no one right or wrong interpretation, and that’s the most important thing to remember when explaining an artwork. Art appreciation is highly individual and subjective – that’s the beauty of it. It encourages and makes room for a diversity of opinions and reactions. Parents should definitely share their own opinions about the work aside from the caption explanation, so that the child’s encounter with art becomes a more personalised experience.’

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Time Out Singapore: Wally Tham

29 May 2015: We find out more about the exhibition ‘Unseen Memories’ from curator Wally Tham

Unseen Memories

Commissioned as part of the Singapore Memory Project, Unseen Memories is an art installation that invites visitors into a virtual world. You’re supposed to strap on an Oculus Rift – one of those virtual reality thingamajigs – to get a sense of what it means to be visually impaired. Read on to find out more about the device and how it works.

How did you first get into virtual reality?
This is my first virtual reality project. We decided to go into it after our interview with a visually impaired Singaporean, Penny, in 2014. My company, Big Red Button, has long dealt with creating new experiences aimed at shifting people out of their fixed beliefs. We felt virtual reality would allow us to have a person visually locked into our narrative, with their body movements and eyes exploring the story, fully immersed.

How exactly does the Oculus Rift work?
It’s a set of goggles with screens inside. It tracks your head movement, so that you’re continually exploring a world as you move your head left and right, up and down. It’s unlike the fixed perspective of a television, where you can look away from what’s in front of you.

Tell us about the world you created.
When we interviewed Penny, she shared anecdotes about sighted people having no idea how to interact with her. [Unseen Memories] is a glimpse into her world.

We built the world in a way that users can experience some of the limitations that she faces. Users can make out the general shapes of people and have some awareness of space, but the floor disappears when they stop tapping it with their cane. This was inspired by one event Penny faced in an MRT station, where someone led her around with her cane by holding it as if it were a leash.

This allows sighted users to better understand how much the visually impaired rely on their cane in helping them get around.

In what ways does Unseen Memories help users ‘adapt, participate and contribute to society without the use of sight’, as you’ve mentioned before?
We hope to create an experience that generates physical and emotional empathy among sighted individuals. We hope that users will better consider their actions when interacting with the visually impaired and understand how something like leading a visually impaired person by their cane can actually disempower them.

Time Out Singapore: ‘After Utopia’

6 May 2015: The Singapore Art Museum’s new exhibition tackles the theme of utopia. We find out more from the co-curator

Artwork: 'Summit' (2009) by Shen Shaomin

Artwork: ‘Summit’ (2009) by Shen Shaomin

A wonderful place where the sun shines, food is plentiful and everyone is always happy. Plato wrote about it in The Republic back in 380 BC, and Sir Thomas More gave it a name in 1516: utopia.

By coining the term from the Greek words for ‘no place’ and ‘good place’, More concedes that utopia does not and cannot exist. Of course, it hasn’t stopped world leaders and politicians from trying. From the kibbutz in Israel to communities in the US, history is dotted with examples of these attempts. But just how successful are they? What happens when they fail? And what, really, does utopia even mean?

This is what the latest exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), called After Utopia, explores. The title, as co-curator Louis Ho tells us, ‘is a play on the word “after”, which can either mean what follows, or to chase what’s on the horizon’. The show tackles an ambitious and fascinating topic, but also gives the museum a chance to show off its permanent collection, some of which were recently acquired and displayed to the public for the first time.

The 20 works by artists from Asia are divided into four themes: ‘Other Edens’, which uses the garden as a symbol of paradise; ‘The City and Its Discontents’, which examines how dreams and good intentions give way to reality; ‘Legacies Left’, which looks at the legacies of various ideologies; and ‘The Way Within’, which delves into the realm of the spiritual.

One of the eye-catching pieces is Shannon Castleman’s photograph, ‘Jurong West Street 81’. No prizes for guessing where it was shot, but the artist created the image by filming residents from the opposite block (with their permission) as a way to bring back the kampong spirit. ‘She realised that even though we live in such close proximity to one another, we’re not close to the people next to us,’ Ho explains. ‘There are also dystopian connotations in the sense that it shows how we are all privy to one another’s lives, and how surveillance in the form of CCTVs is everywhere.’

On the other hand, Maryanto’s ‘Pandora’s Box’ – a site-specific charcoal and graphite drawing first conceived in 2013 and recreated on the walls of SAM – focuses on environmentalism. He is inspired by the landscape of his native Indonesia, where natural resources are often quickly stripped and the land around it turned into a wasteland. Depicting a grim, gritty, suffocating space, the piece is the very image of a dystopia.

It gets even darker. One of the most unsettling pieces is Chinese artist Shen Shaomin’s installation, ‘Summit’. The work presents the life-like bodies of late communist leaders Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, Ho Chi Minh and Lenin encased in glass coffins, while Fidel Castro rests on his deathbed with a pump installed to make it look as though he’s breathing. ‘This work is one that I find myself thinking hard about because I’m not entirely sure I agree with the statement that Shen seems to make,’ says Ho. ‘He believes that socialism/communism is dead, but I don’t. I believe that socialism exists in balance with capitalism, as two halves of an almost necessary balance.’

Ho also declares that he doesn’t even believe in the idea of utopia – at least, not in the sense of a physical space: ‘To me, it’s more about people. You know, home is where the heart is and all that. I think it’s more about connections, and the spiritual, personal space that exists inside us.’

Regardless of your views on utopia, politics and social issues, After Utopia promises to set you thinking. Who knows – you might even find your own idea of paradise there.

Time Out Singapore: ‘The Sew-Out Show: Kinetic Abstraction’

14 Apr 2015: Kevin Ou paints with light

Photo: art-management.com

Photo: art-management.com

‘I was holding the camera – set on long exposure – with one hand, right in the middle of Orchard Road during Christmas, and I was just jumping around like this,’ laughs Kevin Ou as he stands up and waves his arms around like a madman. ‘I had a few friends with me, and they were like, “This is getting embarrassing.” Passers-by were even trying to look into my viewfinder to try and see what sort of photos I was taking.’

The images, if they had managed to sneak a peek, are as trippy as they might have imagined. The festive lights are captured as long, thin and multi-coloured streaks mid-dance – like a screenshot of the iTunes visualiser. ‘I wanted to return to the roots of photography,’ he explains. ‘The word “photography” comes from the Greek words “phós” (light) and “graphis” (stylus). Together, the terms mean “drawing with light”, and I wanted to interpret that literally. Many people do this by moving the light source, but I thought it might be interesting to move both the lights and the camera.’

Entitled Kinetic Abstraction, the series was shot in Singapore, Hong Kong and Nepal, and takes a very different approach from that of Ou’s existing body of work: he specialises in commercial and portrait photography, often of A-list celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Emma Stone. ‘Most of my shoots are staged and carefully set up, so this is something I’m not used to at all,’ Ou admits.

The prints are shown at the second edition of The Sew-Out Show by tcc – The Gallery, and they’ll also take the form of cushion covers, bowties and other accessories. Visitors decide on an item, then use stencils to trace the outline of the accessories onto a section of the artwork. Local design collective The General Company will handcraft the products, whose prices range from $50 to $180.

‘I love photography and I love fashion, so this is a great way for the two media to combine and be made into something that’s completely yours,’ says Ou.

Time Out Singapore: Rachel Ng

1 Apr 2015: We find out how an upcoming exhibition, ‘Imaginarium’, introduces the weird and wonderful world of contemporary art to kids

Photo: Singapore Art Museum

Photo: Singapore Art Museum

Bringing children to a contemporary art exhibition may not, on paper, sound like the best idea from a parent’s point of view. What if they touch and break stuff? Or if they get bored and start howling for attention? Or, worse still, what if they mistake that funky sculpture for something edible and eat it?

Well, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) wants to put those fears to rest. It’s encouraging parents to start fostering in their kids a love for the arts by creating an exhibition specifically with little ones in mind. Back for its fifth edition, Imaginarium features new works that children can have fun exploring. Rachel Ng, the lead curator of the exhibition and assistant curator of SAM, tells us more.

How do you ensure that the works are accessible to kids?

The accompanying text is slightly shorter and in simple language so that it’s more digestible for children. But we have steered clear from simplifying the concept of the work. Each caption is prefaced by a ‘big question’ to prompt the children to examine the larger issues the work raises and their own feelings about it.
I feel that the best way to foster an interest in art is if you can communicate the underlying intent of the artist and the message of the artwork – what is it trying to express, why was it made, and how does it then relate to you and the world you live in?

Was there ever a concern that child-friendly art would be perceived as lower quality?

There is the tendency to equate accessibility with lesser conceptual depth, and hence ‘lower quality’. This is a very limiting point of view, because without consideration for accessibility, you risk alienating certain audience members.
I believe that art is for everyone, and this goes to the heart of what Imaginarium is about: to let everyone discover what art can be, and the joy of that encounter. [In Imaginarium], there is a mix of established and emerging artists from a wide range of practices: photography, drawing, installation, mixed media and even conceptual.

Why should kids be exposed to contemporary art?

It deals with the way we live, the issues affecting society and the world at large, and our place in the world. It is a richly textured medium through which serious issues and questions can be raised to children. This is important for building a well-informed future generation.

How were the artists chosen?

We wanted a diversity of ideas and aesthetics to create a tiered experience for visitors. For example, there is a mix of contemplative and interactive, immersive works. We also selected a few emerging artists, as Imaginarium is a great platform to expose the public to newer, exciting forms of art.

Bringing children to a contemporary art exhibition may not, on paper, sound like the best idea from a parent’s point of view. What if they touch and break stuff? Or if they get bored and start howling for attention? Or, worse still, what if they mistake that funky sculpture for something edible and eat it?

Well, SAM wants to put those fears to rest. It’s encouraging parents to start fostering in their kids a love for the arts by creating an exhibition specifically with little ones in mind. Back for its fifth edition, Imaginarium features new works that children can have fun exploring. Rachel Ng, the lead curator of the exhibition and assistant curator of SAM, tells us more.

How do you ensure that the works are accessible to kids?

The accompanying text is slightly shorter and in simple language so that it’s more digestible for children. But we have steered clear from simplifying the concept of the work. Each caption is prefaced by a ‘big question’ to prompt the children to examine the larger issues the work raises and their own feelings about it.

I feel that the best way to foster an interest in art is if you can communicate the underlying intent of the artist and the message of the artwork – what is it trying to express, why was it made, and how does it then relate to you and the world you live in?

Was there ever a concern that child-friendly art would be perceived as lower quality?

There is the tendency to equate accessibility with lesser conceptual depth, and hence ‘lower quality’. This is a very limiting point of view, because without consideration for accessibility, you risk alienating certain audience members.

I believe that art is for everyone, and this goes to the heart of what Imaginarium is about: to let everyone discover what art can be, and the joy of that encounter. [In Imaginarium], there is a mix of established and emerging artists from a wide range of practices: photography, drawing, installation, mixed media and even conceptual.

Why should kids be exposed to contemporary art?

It deals with the way we live, the issues affecting society and the world at large, and our place in the world. It is a richly textured medium through which serious issues and questions can be raised to children. This is important for building a well-informed future generation.

How were the artists chosen?

We wanted a diversity of ideas and aesthetics to create a tiered experience for visitors. For example, there is a mix of contemplative and interactive, immersive works. We also selected a few emerging artists, as Imaginarium is a great platform to expose the public to newer, exciting forms of art.

Time Out Singapore: 5 fun facts about the OH! Open House artworks

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

21 Mar 2015: Back after a one-year hiatus, Singapore’s only art walkabout, OH! Open House, has taken over the colourful neighbourhood of Joo Chiat this year. We don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t been on the tour yet, so we’ve decided to leave out the precise context of the works and what they’re about – but we did ask five of the artists to tell us some quirky things related to them. So here we go, let your interest be piqued!

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

‘SS Nimby’ by Randy Chan, Fiona Tan & Zenas Deng

‘This project involved us knocking on the doors of residents in Joo Chiat asking them to lend us their most valuable possession – something that means a lot to them, or something that they’d bring with them if they were going to a desert island. One of the items we got was an earring from one of the migrant workers. When he left Bangladesh, he and his best friend each kept one of the earrings, so it took us quite a while to persuade him to take it off and let us borrow it. We’re very grateful,’ says Chan.

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

‘Crease’ by Mike HJ Chang and Mark Thia

‘Mark was sleeping in the hotel room the week prior to the opening day – he was pretty much living with the art works – and he had to uninstall the light box so he can sleep safely at night. He was very worried that the light box would fall and kill him,’ says Thia.

‘The lightbox was just above my pillow and head. It was heavy. I’m not sure I was worried about being killed, but I was worried about it falling onto my lovely head!’ added Chang.

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

‘Ordinary Things’ by Guo Yixiu

‘While I was arranging the flowers, Mrs Tan started to help me “beautify” them by adding wire leaves on them. She later shared that when she got married, she had actually made her own artificial flowers for her bouquet. That was so interesting seeing that we opt for the fresh ones now. I think there was a sincere enjoyment of craft work in the past,’ says Guo.

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

‘My Name is Joo Chiat’ by Hafiz Osman

‘I came up with the idea of making a tall bike because my girlfriend is taller than me. I told her the reason I’m making a tall bike is so that, for once, I’ll be taller than her. Another fun fact is that Andrzej [one of the owners of the home Hafiz did his residency at, and who helped him build the tall bike] claims that he’s the first person to ride on the first self-made tall bike in Singapore, as I needed a test dummy to try the ride after it was build. He is very brave! But I’m the first Asian man to ride it,’ says Hafiz.

Photo: Gwen Pew

Photo: Gwen Pew

‘Shauna’ by Sean Lee

‘I bought my first wig off a mannequin display for USD30. It had probably been left there for years,’ says Lee.

Check out and find out more about these works on the OH! Open House art tour, which is happening until 29 Mar.

Time Out Singapore: OH! Open House 2015 – Joo Chiat

Our favourite art walkabout is back! This edition of OH! Open House takes over the beautiful Joo Chiat neighbourhood, with artists presenting works after completing residencies in the homes of people who live there. Gwen Pew goes behind the scenes

OH! Open House 2015

24 Feb 2015:

Hafiz Osman’s tall bicycle sculpture

We drop by Hafiz Osman’s residency in Joo Chiat where he’s building his tall bike

Hafiz Osman (centre) with his hosts Andrzej (right) and Evie (left) Pyrka Photo: Mike Lim

Hafiz Osman (centre) with his hosts Andrzej (right) and Evie (left) Pyrka Photo: Mike Lim

It was a match made in heaven. Artist Hafiz Osman and the hosts of his residency, Andrzej and Evie Pyrka bonded immediately over their love of cycling. Hafiz first got into it around six years ago, when he started to make a little bit of money and decided to buy a bike. Evie is an avid cyclist, and her husband goes one step further – he builds his own sets of wheels in the workshop he created in the carpark of their bright, modern shophouse condo.

‘At one point, when we were still in Belgium, we had… How many bikes did we have?’ Andrzej asks. Seventeen, Evie replies with a wry smile. ‘Seventeen,’ Andrzej nods. ‘We had bikes everywhere in the house, except the bedroom because Evie wouldn’t allow it.’ But even that’s nothing, he says, because there’s a guy who currently lives down the road from them who has around 150 vintage bikes in perfect condition.

And as it turns out, Joo Chiat is a hotspot for cyclists, which serves as the perfect starting point for the piece Hafiz plans on creating. ‘I want to make a tall bicycle,’ he tells us on the first afternoon of his three-day residency at the Pyrkas’ home. What’s that, you ask? It’s essentially a bike that’s literally twice the height of a normal one. ‘Joo Chiat has a very diverse population. You get expats [like the Pyrkas], the locals, and the migrant workers whose dormitories are also here. And I feel like the bike is something that can bring all these groups together. While I’ve been on a tall bike in Paris, there isn’t one in Singapore as far as I know. So I thought it’d be fun to get everyone together and build one.’

His works have always been very community-centred – the last project he did with The Art Incubator, for instance, involved getting his neighbours together when his home in Hillview went en bloc – so he’s looking to continue developing that theme through his current work. ‘For me, this residency is more about getting to know the people rather than the space,’ Hafiz says, adding that he’ll be going to a barbecue with the Pyrkas’ fellow bike enthusiasts later that evening. ‘I want to be able to relate to and work with my hosts.’

He plans on showcasing both the tall bike and a documentation of the process of its creation at OH! Open House.

See Hafiz Osman’s work at Sandalwood Condo, 162 Tembeling Rd.

Loneliness and hotels

We chat with Mike HJ Chang and Mark Thia on their installation at Fragrance Hotel

Mike HJ Chang (left) and Mark Thia (right). Photo: Mike Lim

Mike HJ Chang (left) and Mark Thia (right). Photo: Mike Lim

‘I like hotels because there’s a sense of loneliness about them,’ Mark Thia says matter-of-factly. ‘You often stay in them when you’re travelling, and you’re by yourself with no one to call and only the TV for company.’

His collaborator, Mike HJ Chang – who grew up in the US and used to stay in a lot of motels – agrees. ‘I like hotel rooms because of the decorations,’ he explains as he admires the bare, dirty-pink walls of the tiny Fragrance Hotel room that we’re all crammed into. It’s the third time he’s doing a residency – or staycation, in other words – there. ‘There’s something nice about how generic everything looks, how there’s nothing unique about them. I like the idea of the person in the next room looking at the same scene as I am.’

It’s not the first time that Thia and Chang have collaborated on a project. Despite admitting they work in different ways, they share a very similar vision. ‘I work very quickly, and Mark works very slowly. He’s borderline OCD,’ Chang laughs. ‘But we understand each other’s taste and sense of aesthetic. That’s why when OH! approached me for their project, I asked if I could bring Mark on board. Collaborating makes it more challenging.’

The duo had already been discussing their piece for a few weeks when we met them, although the exact details have yet to be firmed up at this time of writing. They’ll use a room without windows, with artworks on the walls: a lightbox with a photograph of light piercing through fog on one, a sculpture on another, and a video playing on the TV. The lights will also be turned off, making the experience not especially comfortable for guests, they describe. But it’s not meant to be. ‘We want to look at the idea of loneliness by creating a mood that’s eerie, melancholic and even creepy,’ says Thia. ‘Just like how motels feel to lone travellers.’

See Mike HJ Chang and Mark Thia’s work at Fragrance Hotel, 219 Joo Chiat Rd.

Occupy Joo Chiat

Randy Chan

‘My work, “NIMBY the Ark, a Refuge for Collective Memories”, is literally a tongue-in-cheek update of Noah’s Ark – a maritime vessel in a corner of Joo Chiat. The vessel contains personal objects donated from the residents of the neighbourhood that one will want to bring along as if it were their last day on Earth.’

Guo Yixiu

‘In my work, I sought to challenge our conception of space. Audiences enter the back of the house via a “garden” recreated with objects commonly found in all households. And upon departure, a welcome doormat is placed at the entrance of the door, facing not inwards, but outwards towards the public space.’

Alecia Neo

‘Joo Chiat is a melting pot of religions. My work taps on finding faith and how individuals seek out and develop rituals to find new purpose and meaning in life. I draw parallels between my experience in Bali with various Hindu cleansing rituals and encounters with spiritual men, and astrology reading.’

OH! Open House is at various venues in Joo Chiat every weekend from Mar 14-29.

Time Out Singapore: ‘Moving Light, Roving Sight’

Moving Light Roving Sight

26 Jan 2015: Since it formed in 2000, Tokyo-based collective teamLab have aimed to make ‘the border between technology, art and design more ambiguous’. Local viewers may have seen their quirky digital works at Art Stage, the 2013 Singapore Biennale or Ikkan Art Gallery; the latter will host a group show that includes a new teamLab installation. Only this time, it’s going to be even more of an impressive visual feast.

The work, ‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – Dark’, will see ‘the floor, the walls and the spaces in between completely transformed into art,’ says Toshiyuki Inoko, founder of teamLab. Musician Hideaki Takahashi has created an accompanying soundtrack to make the whole experience even more immersive and visceral.

Inspired by cherry blossoms in the mountains of the Kunisaki peninsula in Japan, the piece explores the relationship between mankind and nature. ‘The boundary between the work of nature and the work of humans is extremely vague,’ Inoko explains. But rather than creating a painting or sculpture to dissect this notion, teamLab chucked technology – a product of man – into the mix.

‘Digital technology allows us to express ourselves in ways that weren’t possible before,’ he continues, adding that technology also brings viewers closer to both natural and digital landscapes. ‘By creating an interactive relationship between the viewers and the artwork, viewers become an intrinsic part of the artwork,’ he concludes. ‘And by turning physical space into art through digital means, the space can form a strong relationship with the people within it. I believe that this potential allows for a stronger connection between people and the space around them.’

Time Out Singapore: Guide to Art Week 2015

There’s a whole calendar of events lined up as Art Week returns with a flourish. Gwen Pew puts together a guide – artistically, of course – to cover all your bases

'What Happens When Nothing Happens' by Chun Kai Feng at Art Stage 2014

‘What Happens When Nothing Happens’ by Chun Kai Feng at Art Stage 2014

5 Jan 2015: Are you looking for a work of art to spruce up your wall? Or is one of your resolutions to become more of a culture vulture (we’re glaring at the 72 percent of the respondents of the recent National Arts Council’s survey who ‘don’t care for or are not interested in’ the arts)? Or are you simply looking for something to wash away the depressing shades of post-Christmas blues? No matter what your reason is, there is so much happening during Singapore Art Week that you’re bound to find something to suit your fancy.

Making the most of the increased traffic brought in by the fair, many of the galleries and art groups around town have banded together to come up with their own events. From guided tours to talks to festivals, we’ve put together a list of the 14 best ones to visit. And because we’re nice, we’ve even thrown in a bunch of fun facts at no extra charge – including some of the most controversial artworks shown in Singapore, tips on what not to say when admiring a piece of work, and even a mini-dictionary to translate the ‘artspeak’ we came across this month into English.

And if all that still isn’t enough for you, then flick to our Art section to find out about even more exhibitions that are worth checking out while you’re out and about. Read on, and get stuck in!

Four Special Exhibitions to look out for at Art Stage 2015

'Transformation' by Andrey Gorbunov

‘Transformation’ by Andrey Gorbunov

Four Special Exhibitions make their debuts at Art Stage this year for visitors to better understand art from a specific region, medium or period. The works are displayed in a museum layout, and guided tours and talks are held at each if you’re interested to find out more about the pieces on show.

Russia

Curated by Olga Sviblova, director of Multimedia Museum Moscow, the showcase features a collection from the emerging contemporary art scene in Russia, such as the work of Andrey Gorbunov. Participating galleries include Shtager Gallery, Triumph Gallery, 11.12 Gallery and Savina Gallery.

Modern

Find out the significance of the Modern art movement in the emergence and rise of the contemporary art scene in Asia at this exhibition. Works by masters such as Akbar Padamsee, SH Raza, FN Souza, and Zao Wou-Ki are displayed, with special attention paid to French artist André Masson.

Malaysia

The exhibition is dedicated to the works of 16 Malaysian artists, who collaborate in a collective called TheFKlub. They specialise in figurative art, with each artist contributing a two-by-twometre portrait to form a single image.

Video

A survey of the history of video art and an exhibition of current examples, this platform is curated by Paul Greenaway of Australia’s GAGPROJECTS. It presents about 40 video works from around the world – artists to look out for include Angela Tiatia (New Zealand), Ivan Navarro (Chile/USA), Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba (Vietnam/Japan) and Myriam Mechita (France).

Interview: Khim Ong on her Southeast Asia Platform at Art Stage

Khim Ong

How many artists and works will be shown at the Platform?        

The Platform will feature more than 50 works by about 30 artists.

How did you decide whom to feature?

I’m drawn to artists whose practices have developed in interesting ways and/or have demonstrated consistently strong conceptual or material sensibilities.

Who are some of the artists we can expect, and what’s special about them?

Audiences can look forward to works that employ very diverse media and methodologies. Many works are also conceived specially for or are making their debut at the Platform. Among them are works by Gary-Ross Pastrana and Hoang Duong Cam, as well as a performanceinstallation by Zaki Razak.

All these works, as with many other works in the Platform, exhibit a sensitivity towards contemporary society and its development, but adopt different approaches in their engagement with the topic.

What do you hope viewers can learn from the works?

The exhibition provides a snapshot of artistic practices in the region and it is my hope Walking the Wall by Angela Tiatia Exponential Taxonomies Specimen by Chong Weixin Transformation by Andrey Gorbunov that audiences, through looking at these individual practices, will walk away with a deeper appreciation of artistic processes and hopefully also gain their own insight into the development of arts in the region.

Young local artists at Art Stage

'Le metamorphose du hero' by Wong Lip Chin. Photo: Michael Janssen Singapore/Cher Him

‘Le metamorphose du hero’ by Wong Lip Chin. Photo: Michael Janssen Singapore/Cher Him

Wong Lip Chin, Galerie Michael Janssen

Wong’s practice spans several media, including printmaking, drawing, painting, performance and sculpture. The 27-year-old Lasalle grad draws inspiration from both his life and socio-political issues, accompanying them with a sharp dose of wit and humour. It’s no coincidence that the figure in La metamorphose du hero resembles a macho version of Astro Boy.

Melissa Tan, Richard Koh Fine Art

Originally trained as a painter, the 25-year-old branched out to work with other materials – including paper and porcelain – after a stint at Lasalle. The beauty of the transient is a theme commonly found in her work.

Hilmi Johandi, Galerie Steph

Fascinated by both painting and film, Johandi often toys with the relationship between the two media – his videos reference certain qualities found in paintings, while his paintings are informed by elements of cinema. New montages were specially commissioned for the fair; in them, the 27-year-old sources images from local post-war films and photo archives to use as starting points. See them at the Southest Asia Platform.

Henry Lee, Galerie Sogan & Art

He may have a degree in chemical engineering, but 33-year-old Lee later pursued his interest in art by enrolling into NAFA’s Diploma in Fine Art programme in 2010. Graduating with the school’s President’s Award, he is known for his intricate, fantastical large-scale charcoal drawings.

Five tips to make the most of Art Stage

Lorenzo Rudolf. Photo: Art Stage Singapore

Lorenzo Rudolf. Photo: Art Stage Singapore

At the heart of Art Week is the event that pretty much everything else revolves around – Art Stage. Founded by Lorenzo Rudolf in 2011, the annual art fair is known for being particularly Asia-centric – with a focus on South-East Asia – and has grown to become one of the biggest in the region. This year, it’s back with 145 galleries from all over the world, several curated platforms and special exhibitions, and public art pieces that will be displayed around the fair.

But at a sprawling 17,190 square metres, Art Stage is no easy terrain to navigate. So we asked Rudolf for a few tips on how to make the most of your time there.

  1. Check out the four Special Exhibitions, which are dedicated to modern art, video works, and art by Russian and Malaysian artists.
  2. Take part in the Southeast Asia Platform tour to learn more about the story behind the pieces on show. They will be conducted throughout the fair.
  3. See public artworks. We’ll show pieces by British art duo George & Gilbert, local artist Suzann Victor and locally based Taiwanese-American artist Mike Chang, the latter of whom has his work displayed at the entrance.
  4. Listen to an art talk. Art Stage partners with ARTnews magazine to host a series of talks, including one about owning an art collection (Jan 22, 3pm; Level 4, Sands Convention Centre), and another discussing ‘Why cities need museums’ (Jan 24, 3pm; Level 4 Sands Convention Centre).
  5. Discover cutting-edge art by emerging artists. Chat with the curators of both the special exhibitions and individual galleries – you never know, you could be looking at the next Picasso of our generation.

Controversial fine art in our Fine City

'Eville' by Vertical Submarine

‘Eville’ by Vertical Submarine

‘Welcome to the Hotel Munber’ by Simon Fujiwara

At the Singapore Biennale 2011, the British – Japanese artist set up an installation that looked like a regular Spanish bar. But peer closer and you’d have found items that reference homosexuality – such as pages from gay porno magazines. The Singapore Art Museum had the offending images removed without informing the artist, and Fujiwara closed the exhibition, stating that without them, ‘the work failed to convey the necessary meaning’.

Untitled performance by T Venkanna

A few months after the Fujiwara incident, the Indian artist presented a performance piece where he sat naked on a bench in front of a replica of Frida Kahlo’s painting, ‘The Two Frida’. People could fork out $250 to sit next to him and pose for a photo. This took place behind a black curtain and only those above 21 could enter, but the artist subsequently cancelled his remaining appearance after being questioned by the police for public nudity.

‘Eville’ by Vertical Submarine

Anger erupted after a flyer urging people to ‘kill stray cats’ was passed around a few months back. But they were actually part of a project, Eville, by local art collective Vertical Submarine. The artists later stated, ‘We do not advocate or condone the killing of stray cats. On the contrary, we are pleased that the issue of cat abuse is highlighted.’ Clearly, the logo on the flyer that reads ‘Red Herring Conservation Society’, wasn’t enough of a hint.

Three places to learn art in Singapore

Where you can continue your exploration of the art world after Art Week 2015

An outreach programme at Singapore Art Museum

An outreach programme at Singapore Art Museum

Singapore Art Museum

SAM often runs an Appreciating Art Lecture Series to complement its exhibitions, with curators or artists discussing the topics and themes found in works on show. The museum also hosts a free event on one Friday each month called Creative Mornings. Each session is themed and features a speaker giving a 20-minute lecture – oh, and there’s free coffee.

71 Bras Basah Rd (6589 9580; www.singaporeartmuseum.sg). Appreciating Art Lecture Series: $12.

Arnoldii Arts Club

Founded by Yeo Workshop’s head honcho Audrey Yeo, this course-based arts club offers regular classes to the public. Each three-hour session, held twice a year, is themed around ‘the art market’, ‘art history’ or ‘art production’, and features local and international art experts as presenters. Arnoldii also runs bespoke tours at several art fairs around the world, including Art Stage in Singapore, Frieze Art Fair in London and the Venice Biennale.

1 Lock Rd (6734 5168; www.arnoldiiartsclub.com). $170/class; $6,500/six-week course.

Art Outreach

The non-profit organisation specialises in working with schools to bring art into the classroom, and they also run three tours that are open to the general public. One is the Marina Bay Sands Art Path, which takes participants around the hotel to highlight its overlooked pieces of art. The other two are part of the two-hour Art-in-Transit tours, essentially a jaunt around the art-ridden North East and Circle MRT stations. But if you’d rather just walk (or train) around solo, download the brochure from the Art Outreach website and be on your merry way.

Various venues (6873 9505; www.artoutreachsingapore.org). $10.

Artspeak

Artspeak

A curated selection of the most poetic phrases we came across this month, decoded

Lens-based media: ‘I am a photographer.’

Re-situate: ‘I moved things around a bit.’

Beautification: ‘I made it look really pretty.’

Vastness of foliage: ‘It’s a frickin’ huge jungle.’

The artist consummately paints impossible, absurd stories: ‘I imagine things, and then I paint them. BTW, I paint passionately.’

His artworks confound and intrigue the viewer: ‘This will blow. Your. Mind. *KABOOM*’

Monolithic and declamatory intensity: ‘This is, like, intense… times three.’

Time Out Singapore: Andre Tan

The past, present and future collide in a new exhibition by Andre Tan. Gwen Pew speaks with the time-travelling artist to find out more.

Andre Tan

7 Nov 2014: One of Singapore’s most beloved pop artists, Andre Tan, is back this month with a new solo exhibition. RE is a fresh series of paintings adapted from masterpieces and given a curious, contemporary twist, like an image of Michelangelo’s David brandishing a smartphone. This artist is present – and in the past, and in the future, all at once.

What is the significance of the simple title, RE?
‘Re’ is a prefix, which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding ‘re’ to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. I am using the same metaphor, adding elements into familiar images or famous paintings. RE is an exhibition about recreating, rethinking and refreshing.

Why is the notion of the past so important to you?
I started my research for this series by studying Renaissance paintings. I find it interesting to juxtapose modern elements or materials with Renaissance images. The original context of the image is taken away and it creates another kind of telling. The gesture of introducing another element into the work creates a time void – it’s fascinating. Everything seems to appear within one dimension and is fused into the same time frame. As the series progresses, I shifted images around and toyed with different ideas. I assume that the past is an important factor in my works. Without knowledge of the past – and the original image that I’ve used – the viewer might not be able to grasp the idea of my art.

If this series is an attempt to look back at the past, does it also encourage a look towards the future?
Definitely, I believe that the past provides lessons for the present and acts as a guide to the future.

How long have you been working on this series?
I’ve been working on this exhibition, which will feature my latest body of work, with Galerie Belvedere for about half a year. In the exhibition, I’m revisiting the past and infusing it with the ‘now’.

How do you come up with ideas for new works?
To me, ideas are like rain. They would suddenly appear out of nowhere, but other times, when I wish it would rain, it doesn’t. However when it rains, I would be like a sponge, absorbing whatever is around me. Anything and everything can be a form of inspiration to generate new ideas. It depends a lot on my mood.

The paintings look very digital – how do you achieve this effect?
Usually, I work on a Mac to figure out the ideas for my paintings. It’s like sketching in a sketch book; the only difference is that I use a mouse instead of a pen or pencil. Upon finalising the idea, I will work on the layers of stencils to hand-paint and stencil the artwork. At first glance, the painting might look like a print, but upon closer look, you realise the works are hand-painted.

You’ve said that you hope to address the ironies and social ills apparent in our society today with a humorous approach. Tell us about this. 
Personally, I think that smartphones are one of the best inventions of convenience in our modern society, yet they cause social ills and ironies. For example, in our fast-paced society, we are slowed down by the ones walking ahead of us with their eyes glued to their phones.

Smartphones enable us to keep in touch with the people close to us – especially those who live overseas – but they also estrange the ones beside us. The scenario is often seen in restaurants or cafés. You’d see how one would spend more time on the phone than communicating with those in front of them.

Selfies are cool, but too much makes it a form of narcissistic illness. The Renaissance Man series is based on such narcissism. Ultimately, I don’t find any of this wrong. I just find it an interesting subject matter to work on.

What do you feel is your mission as an artist? 
I’ve been enjoying the process of painting for the last eight years since graduating from Lasalle. I’ve never questioned what my mission as an artist is. I guess it is the passion of creating and painting that keeps me going. Hopefully this passion will fuel me for the next 50 years or so.