Time Out Singapore: Thomas Yeo

Thomas Yeo, one of Singapore’s most renowned second-generation artists and Cultural Medallion winners, holds a fundraiser for The Substation and talks to Gwen Pew about his new series, the idea of change and how to approach abstract art.

'Ocean World 1' by Thomas Yeo.

‘Ocean World 1’ by Thomas Yeo.

30 Jun 2013: ‘There are two new series in this show: Ocean and Construction.

‘The Ocean series was inspired by National Geographic programmes, as well as from my past experience in scuba diving, so I decided to do a series on fish spawning – but not in a realistic way.

‘The Construction series began after I was confronted with construction work wherever I went in Singapore. In fact, one can hardly escape it if you happen to live in town. As my surroundings were dusty and noisy, I went to my studio in Telok Kurau, hoping to have some peace. Unfortunately, the workers in Telok Kurau started to excavate the drain and the work went on for weeks!

‘Change can bring life into a city, but quite often, destruction and creation go hand in hand. If we have to destroy our history in order to have a new city, then we have to tread carefully. The speed at which change takes place can create confusion for the older generation. However, change is inevitable. No place can stand still.

‘Both series are very different from anything I have done in the past. I am hoping to create awareness through my works, but there is no short cut or quick fix to understanding abstract art. It requires plenty of time and effort. Go to the library and read up on it and, best of all, visit as many art exhibitions as you can. Nothing like confronting the art work head on! As time goes on, you will begin to enjoy the new language of art.’

Time Out Singapore: Agostino Bonalumi

'Bianco', 1963, by Agostino Bonalumi. Photo courtesy of Partners & Mucciaccia Gallery.

‘Bianco’, 1963, by Agostino Bonalumi. Photo courtesy of Partners & Mucciaccia Gallery.

11 Dec 2012: Agostino Bonalumi’s retrospective exhibition at Gillman Barracks displays he’s made in in the past 50 years – Gwen Pew takes notes on the most important things you need to know about the Italian master.

Agostino Bonalumi was born in 1935 in Vimercate, a city near Milan, Italy. His works were first exhibited when he was just 13 years old, and by the age of 21 he had his debut solo show at the Galleria Totti in Milan. He soon established a name for himself at the centre of the Milanese art scene, and has gone on to have exhibitions in important venues all over the world.

Aside from being a painter, he is also known for his poems and books on philosophy. In 2001 he was awarded the President of the Italian Republic Prize for his contribution to the arts. Although he is now approaching 80, he is still very active as an artist and continues to produce new works each year.

His works are first and foremost an exploration of form and shadows.Unlike his good friend Lucio Fontana, who wanted to express the idea of space by making sharp slashes directly into his painted canvas, Bonalumi wanted to create something with more movement.

He rarely uses more than one colour in his paintings – especially in his earlier works. Instead allows the light in its surroundings to accentuate the contrast between the different shades within them, and to create various other shapes across its surface. As a result, his works are rather easy to name, for he just titles them after their colour: Rosso (Red), Bianco (White), Blu (Blue) and so on.

Most of his earlier works are painted with a type of paint known as vinyl tempera. His more recent ones (made in 2000 and onwards) are done with acrylic.

His works can be separated into several distinctive phases.In the ‘50s and ‘60s he was mostly preoccupied with creative curves in his canvas; in the ‘70s he moved on to straight lines; in the ‘80s he combined the two forms; in the ‘90s until present day he has reverted back to curved lines, but the pieces are now more pictorial in that there’s more going on than just geometric patterns. They are also no longer necessarily a hundred per cent monochromatic, and instead have slight variations in shading.

His works are deeply rooted in research and he dedicates much of his time looking into different ways of seeing things. The most important part of his creative process, however, is the preparation, as he painstakingly measures all of his geometric shapes or lines to ensure that they would create the exact effect that he had in mind.

If you want to show off some ‘artspeak’ about Bonalumi’s techniques, these are two of the terms you need to know. Evagination – when parts of the work are made to protrude out by having bulges and other structures inserted behind them; de verso – when an artist works from the back of the canvas.

Time Out Singapore: Andrew Gurnett

'Angels in Strange Places'. Photo courtesy of Andrew Gurnett.

‘Angels in Strange Places’. Photo courtesy of Andrew Gurnett.

29 Nov 2012: ‘I like to photograph things that people don’t generally photograph in places that they don’t generally go to,’ says Andrew Gurnett about his debut exhibition at Artistry Gallery this month. Born and raised in the UK, the part-time photographer has had a camera for as long as he can remember, but credits his move to Singapore in 1995 as the catalyst for beginning to take his art seriously – among his earlier shots is a series of macro-lens works inspired by dragonflies at the Botanic Gardens, close to where he used to live. Still, during the day, he continues to pay his bills as the director of his self-founded corporate training company The Right Angle, making time to take photos on weekend ambles along the various back streets and alleys around town.

The exhibition features 12 images, all of which were taken between 2004 and 2011. The photos reveal a fascination with the traces of industry left behind in more weathered areas of town; cropped and framed without any outside context, they possess an abstract quality and it’s often difficult to determine the scale of the photo or even exactly what the subject is.

The title of his exhibition reflects the philosophy behind the images: ‘They look like something that someone would’ve deliberated created,’ says Gurnett. ‘I imagine that I could be walking past an art gallery and see these hanging on the walls in there as paintings. And yet they’re not made – they’re just there.’

‘The best shots are always the ones where you don’t anticipate them,’ he continues. ‘Same with the best things in life, you know? You always find them when you don’t set out looking for them.’