Time Out Singapore: Edward Burtynsky

As award-winning Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky makes his solo Singapore debut this month, he shares some of the best shots from his latest series, Water, with Gwen Pew.

Edward Burtynsky

3 Mar 2014: Edward Burtynsky’s photographs are not difficult to identify: the sweeping landscapes as nature is carved up by industry and other traces of mankind, all contorted into an almost abstract canvas, are presented in a larger-than- life format in galleries around the world.

Born in Ontario, Canada, the 58-year-old has earned a slew of honours and awards for his powerful works, having won the first TED Prize in 2005, being named Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006 and receiving the President’s Medal from the Geological Society of America last year. He even had a critically-acclaimed documentary film made about him, titled Manufactured Landscapes.

Instead of creating his images just for the sake of it, however, he aims to use them as a visual way to encourage people to start thinking about what we’re doing to our planet. When he made three wishes upon accepting the TED Prize – each winner traditionally has to make at least one wish, which the prize money will help them achieve – they were to work on an IMAX film, to build a website to help children think about how to protect the planet, and to create, in his words, ‘a massive and productive worldwide conversation about sustainable living’.

As a result, Meet the Greens was launched in 2007 with the tagline: ‘a site for kids about looking after the planet’, and his support for the blog WorldChanging (of which he’s also the chairman) has led to the website flourishing into one of the Top Ten Green Blogs selected by The Guardian.

While his previous projects have focused on oil, quarries and mines, his latest series is entitled Water, which will be showing in Singapore this month at Sundaram Tagore Gallery. There are 180 works altogether, around 30 of which will be shown here. He began working on the series in 2007, and it has since grown to become his most ambitious collection to date. To capture the shots, he traveled the world, from Iceland to India, and went up to heights of over 7,000 feet with planes or helicopters to achieve his desired perspective.

‘While trying to accommodate the growing needs of an expanding, and very thirsty civilisation, we are reshaping the Earth in colossal ways. In this new and powerful role over the planet, we are also capable of engineering our own demise,’ Burtynsky says in his artistic statement for the series. ‘We have to learn to think more long-term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. My hope is that these pictures will stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival; something we often take for granted – until it’s gone.’

In conjunction with the exhibition, Watermark, a feature film he co-created with Manufactured Landscapes director Jennifer Baichwal during his journey in creating the Water series, will also be having its Singapore premiere at Sundaram Tagore Gallery this month.

Time Out Singapore: ‘We Do! We Do Art!’ Preview

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this month, One East Artspace will be presenting a group show that features works from six artist couples. Gwen Pew meets them all to hear their stories of love, life and art.

We Do Art

6 Feb 2014:

Tan Haur and Loh Kit Mui

How they met

TH: ‘Mui and I met studying applied art at the Singapore Baharuddin Institution what seems like a lifetime ago. We both picked up the Graphic Design course, but were in different classes. Our passion in art and design bound us together. We’ve been married for 23 years.’

KM: ‘I got to know Tan Haur when the lecturer showed us his creative work. He was one of the top students and everyone in school knew about him!’

First impression of each other

TH: ‘Talented, observant and quick tempered.’

LKM: ‘Caring. And we have a sort of chemistry with each other.’

Works they’ll be showing

TH: ‘Six photo-media archival prints from two series that were created three months ago. They deal with issues of globalisation, which is continued from my previous series, Global Eyes. The artworks are digitally aged on purpose to show what they might look like in a hundred years’ time. All works come with a fable specially written for this exhibition.’

LKM: ‘My drawings series Eyes, Divine to the Soul, consists of new works done in 2013 and 2014. I work with Chinese ink on acid free paper and the series is a continuation of my ink drawing to convey positive energy, harmony, kindness and nature, originated from my memory, imagination and intuition.’

Eitaro Ogawa and Tamae Iwasaki

How they met

EO: ‘We met at university when we were both 20 years old. I was in the volleyball team and she came in to join the team.’

First impression of each other

EO: ‘Something about her gave me a strong impression. I still don’t know what it was.’

TI: ‘He looks like any regular guy, but I felt something very strong when I first saw him. It’s like I met him before – even though I know I hadn’t.’

Works they’ll be showing

EO: ‘More than anything else, our kids are the most amazing creation that both of us are involved in. They are the inspiration for my silkscreen piece. We often fail to pay attention to something amazing that is very close to us, and instead focus on things that are much further away. I just want to bring that back to the right place.’

TI: ‘I have been creating a series of etched portraits of my two children. I have always been interested to know what makes each person different – is it the DNA, or the environment that they were raised in? Now we are witnessing two small persons growing in front of us, and we’re starting to deeply understand what forms one’s character.’

Milenko Prvacki and Delia Prvacki

How they met

MP: ‘I noticed Delia during our first days at the National University of Arts in Bucharest in 1971. However, as an “old-fashioned” gentleman, it took me almost one year to approach her.’

DP: ‘I saw Milenko for the first time in October 1971 at the university’s food court. After that, we watched each other for the following eight months. We had our first date in June 1972.’

First impression of each other

MP: ‘Beautiful, smart, talented and energetic.’

DP: ‘I was fascinated, as he was so authentic! He had an aura and I sensed he was a genuine artist.’

Works they’ll be showing

MP: ‘A group of mixed media drawings from the series Now You See Now You Don’t, which complement Delia’s installation well. The drawings are somewhere in between recognisable and abstract images and shapes.’

DP: ‘A mixed media 3D installation [of pussy willows] called “Spring”. It’s made from ceramics, metal and other materials, and is in line with themes and ideas that have interested me for more than 30 years. It’s about life cycles, transformation end eternal return to a new beginning.’

Oh Chai Hoo and Chua Chon Hee

How they met

OCH: ‘We first met each other in Secondary Three, but only started dating when we were studying at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). The most romantic memory I have from then is the times we spent together, making art.’

First impression of each other

OCH: ‘Honest, but quite gong gong (blur).’

CCH: ‘No special impression. The relationship was developed naturally as we made art. There were lots of outdoor sketching activities in groups at NAFA, and we gradually developed into becoming a pair.’

Works they’ll be showing

OCH: ‘“Grow up” is inspired by our own family, and it’s about how the family has grown and how one has to balance career and family life. The work is done in black ink on silver rice paper. Black and white is a symbol of things being pure and simple – I wish to take it back to basics.’

CCH: ‘“Layers of nature” is also created on silver rice paper, but it’s a monoprint that was inspired by nature – especially when I see fallen leaves, the mountains and the seas. It is through selfpursuit that we discover the true meaning of life, including human relationships.’


Kamal Dollah and Ye Ruoshi

How they met

KD: ‘We met in 1992 at an illustrations course in NAFA. The professor used a lot of Chinese – and I’m Malay – so I roped in Ruoshi to be my translator. ‘We were dating for three years before she told her parents though, because they’re very traditional Malaysian Chinese, and didn’t want her to date a Malay guy. We even ran away – but thankfully her parents got worried, so after one day they persuaded us to come back and decided to finally meet me in person and give me a chance. It was her mum who talked her dad into letting me come to the house, but in the end her dad and I had so much in common that we talked deep into the night, and her mum had to tell me to go home!’

YR: ‘I’d just broken up with my ex-boyfriend when I noticed Kamal being really nice to me – he even helped me source for materials for a project I was working on at the time – and we slowly became closer. ‘But yes, my parents are very traditional and they tried to make me break up with Kamal before they’d even met him – my dad was treated quite badly when he lived in Malaysia and had a very bad impression of the people there – and I was so heartbroken. He managed to win them over with his wit and charm though, and now he’s the favourite in-law of the family!’

First impression of each other

KD: ‘She is such a goody two-shoes! We are completely different people, and really quite incompatible. I’d want to go out and play all the time while she’d sit there in class, all perfect; she’d eat cake and there would be no crumbs! Like, what?! But we bonded over our love of art.’

YR: ‘Yeah, Kamal was the opposite of my type of guy. He’s quite arrogant, rude and rough, but when we got together, he made me realise that I have another side to me – a more rebellious side – that I never knew about. It’s exciting.’

Works they’ll be showing

KD: ‘Probably some of my new ink doodles. They’re not the kind of doodles that you’d likely have in mind, though – my doodles often don’t look like spontaneous doodles, as they look quite structured and very intricate. They are inspired by my background as a caricature artist, but I would usually just sit down and draw whatever is on my subconscious. I think that the subconscious is the true reflection of how one feels.’

YR: ‘A collection of paintings from my Hua Dan series. The hua dan is the female character in Chinese opera – which I love to perform in my spare time – she is a constant figure in my works. Sometimes they represent me; sometimes they’re more figurative. Almost everything else in my paintings represent the males – like Kamal, sometimes – and the works are an exploration of love, relationships and what it means to be part of a couple. There are always challenges and temptations, but it’s about how we overcome them and stay together.’

Suwong Kunrattanamaneephorn and Joey Soh

How they met

Joey: ‘Under the pitter-patter of welding sparks when working for Universal Studio’s project in 2009. We were the sculptors who helped to create the Lost World and some other parts of the theme park.’

First impression of each other

Suwong: ‘Who let this kid come and play in the production factory? Oh sh*t, she’s my supervisor!’

Joey: ‘Oh my gosh, are this guy’s arms toned… but he’s super lame!’

Works they’ll be showing

Suwong: ‘It’s a light installation called “Two White Fish First Met Each Other”, where two parts of a white epoxy resin sculpture cast a shadow that resembles a pair of lovers. It was created specifically for this show, and we were inspired by everywhere and everything – the exploration of materials, just having fun, looking at fishes at home and talking to each other.’

Time Out Singapore: Alain Soldeville

French photographer Alain Soldeville’s images of Bugis Street in the 1980s show a glimpse of the area’s colourful past. Gwen Pew takes a trip down memory lane.

Creatures of the Night

24 Jan 2014: Armed with a degree in Economic Sciences but a passion for photography, Alain Soldeville, now 56, decided to take a trip to Asia from his native France in the early 1980s. Having read about the transgender community that used to gather around Singapore’s Bugis Street, his curiosity led him – and his camera – to the fascinating underbelly of town.

After spending a few months in Singapore, he went on to become a photojournalist for a range of magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue Homme and the French edition of National Geographic, before quitting the commercial side of the art form to focus on taking images centred on the themes of memory, identity and globalisation. Amidst the many projects he immersed himself in, he had completely forgotten about the photographs he took in Bugis Street for almost 25 years, until he reencountered them by chance and realised how incredible his shots of the long-disappeared scenes are.

As the works finally make their way back to Singapore for an exhibition at Objectifs at the end of this month, Soldeville shares his memories of yesteryear’s Singapore with us.

What first brought you to Singapore back in the 1980s?

I left Paris for Bangkok in December 1980 to make a long trip across Asia to take photographs wherever my mood would take me. I never studied photography at school, as there were not a lot [of arts schools around] at the beginning of the ’80s. I ended up in Singapore to buy photo equipment as it was cheaper there than in France.

What brought you to Bugis Street? And how did you first become acquainted with the people in your photographs?

I read an article about Bugis Street in a travel book, and I was interested to see it and make some photos. I met two Swiss guys in the hotel I stayed in and we went together to visit the area at night. I quickly met Anita, a friendly transgender of Malaysian background, who introduced me to her friends. I carried my camera everywhere and everybody knew it. I made portraits of them in the street, sometimes with sailors when they arrived from the harbour. They liked having me photograph them and they often posed for pictures.

What were some of the surprising things you discovered about the community?

I found out that they had a strong sense of community: they were living in a communal apartment building far from downtown. In doing so, they could defend themselves against the attacks of aggressive clients and neighbours. As Anita told me, they were rejected by people close to them, but they were tolerated by society and could live upon their trade.

Why did you decide to start photographing them? Did it ever feel awkward?

Before going to Singapore, I knew that I wanted to photograph Bugis Street and the girls there. I was interested by transsexuality and I had read about the subject a long time before [going to Singapore], when I was in France. I was curious about people living on the edges of society and those not accepting its codes. It was not awkward to photograph the Bugis Street community, but sometimes I had to be cautious, as I was close to some girls and not to others – they considered themselves as women and jealousy was a part of the game – but most of them permitted me to make photos. [One of the few refusals] I got was from a girl who was modeling for fashion magazines and didn’t want casual photos made of her.

How long did you spend with them?

I spent about six weeks in Singapore from February to May 1981 before I left for Australia, where I worked for six months in order to continue traveling. I returned briefly to Singapore after Australia in 1984, as I was traveling to Indonesia to photograph stories for magazines, and [made a brief stop to] stay a few weeks at some friends’ house. I met the girls I knew again and made new photos of them.

Did you find that the photos you took on your first trip were vastly different from the ones you took on the second one?

Looking at the photos, I would say [the latter ones] were maybe technically a bit better, but [they were all] made in the same spirit, as that work was, to me, a continuing series. From 1985, I became a photojournalist and worked for magazines until 1999. The kind of series I am doing now, 32 years later, are very different. I changed a lot and my photos did too. They are more conceptual and [more of a] mises en scène (set up or staging) between fiction and reality. I explore the edges between documentary and mise en scène. That said, the Bugis Street series contains a lot of set up photos, too.

What are some interesting stories from your time with the transsexual community?

In 1984, as I was going back to Singapore for the second time, a friend of mine took me to the notorious Thief Alley behind Bugis Street at night. Transsexuals were selling their charms in a park; nearby, the dimly-lit alley was full of people walking along, and we could hardly move. I was taking photographs of girls posing inside houses and trying to get clients in – my friend told me later on that the houses were used a long time ago by opium smokers. As we reached the end of the lane, I felt hands along my body searching for my wallet and my money – a thief in Thief Alley!

How many photos did you take in total, and how many will you be showing at Objectifs?

I made a few hundreds photographs altogether, and 50 [out of those are especially interesting]. I will show about 27 prints in both colour and black and white at Objectifs.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the photographs?

No. Unfortunately, I lost contact with them after 1984. I would be happy to find and meet them again after all this time, though.

What do you think when you look back on the photos today?

I forgot about that work for almost 25 years. It felt strange the first time I looked at the photos again – it was like watching excerpts from the film of my own life, my youth. I was trying to find a way as a photographer and to discover the world through it. I am rather touched by these photos as they illustrate the way I always used to represent people in my work: in respecting them, showing their fragility and their humanity.

Time Out Singapore: Guide to Art Week 2014

We’ve rounded up the best events and places to be on each day of this year’s art week, giving you ample opportunity to check out the dozens of gallery openings, tours, talks and artist appearances around town.

Yuki Onodera's '12 Speed No.04'. Image courtesy of the artist and 2902 Gallery.

Yuki Onodera’s ’12 Speed No.04′. Image courtesy of the artist and 2902 Gallery.

10 Jan 2014:

10 January

5ive Foot Way: Days We Met
Until 24 Jan
Artist talk : 18 Jan, 2pm
The local art collective shows photos taken from around the world.

Gillman Barracks: 7pm

Stephan Balkenhol
Until 23 Feb
Opening reception: 10 Jan, 6pm
Artist talk: 10 Jan, 6.30pm
The German artist makes his Singapore debut with his latest series of rough-hewn wooden sculptures.

Mizuma Gallery
Until 26 Jan
Opening reception: 10 Jan, 6pm
Expect to see works by Japanese and Indonesian artists here, including Indieguerillas, Tomiyuki Kaneko, Nasirun, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, O Jun, Angki Purbandono and Keiichi Tanaami, as they explore the theme of globalisation.

Charles Lim: Sea State 3 – Inversion
Future Perfect
Until 16 Feb
The local artist continues his exploration into Singapore’s history and geography with the third part of his on-going Sea State series. .

Kiko Escora
The Drawing Room
Until 16 Feb
Hailing from Indonesia, the artist’s paintings and charcoal drawings often chronicle scenes where urban subculture crosses path with high society in the lives of his subjects.

Song-Ming Ang: Logical Progressions
FOST Gallery
Until 2 Mar
Not only did the local artist teach himself the piano – and, by extension, the harpsichord – but he learnt how to play a Bach classic front- and backwards to further his signature themes of music and art.

Shin il Kim: Ready Know
Space Cottonseed
Until 16 Feb
Born in Seoul, Kim’s practice predominantly revolves around his interest in obscuring and pushing the borders of categories set by human senses. In his current show, he focuses on the sense of sight and its relation to the acts of reading and believing.

Jane Lee: 100 Faces
Sundaram Tagore Gallery
Until 2 Mar
Known for her highly-textured acrylics, the local artist introduces three new series of works that challenge the ways that viewers look at paintings.

Titarubi: Reading Shadows
Michael Janssen Gallery
Until 16 Mar
The Indonesian artist shows a series of new works.

Nana Funo: The Fish Glitters as its Scales Tremble
Tomio Koyama Gallery
Until 16 Feb
Enter a world of intricate patterns drawn from the natural world as well as written characters through the acrylic works of the Japanese artist.

11 January

Dawn Ng: Windowshop – A Modern Day Cabinet of Curiosities
Chan Hampe Galleries
Until 9 Feb
Opening reception: 10 Jan, 7pm
Having enjoyed immense success in 2013, the creator behind some of the most well-known contemporary artwork in town (including Walter the bunny) is back with a new series of curious objects – all sourced from junk shops around Singapore.

13 January

Singapore Biennale
Various venues around Bras Basah, $4-$9
Until 16 Feb
With Art Week yet to fully kick into action, why not take the day to take a look at the Singapore Biennale before it closes on the 14 Feb?

14 January

Yuki Onodera: The Sanctuary of Topsy Turvy
2902 Gallery
Until 28 Feb
Opening reception: 14 Jan, 6.30pm
Enter the playful world of the acclaimed Paris-based Japanese photographer at her first solo show in Singapore.

Zulkifle Mahmod: Sonically Exposed
The Private Museum
Until 9 Mar
Opening reception: 14 Jan, 7pm
Formerly a local sculptor, Mahmod – aka ZUL – now presents an exhibition that merges sound with visuals.

Randy Chan & Philippa Lawrence: Angles of Incidence
Botanic Gardens
Until 23 Mar
Opening reception: 14 Jan, 6.30pm
The third installation of the cross-country residency AiRx brings together the talents of two artists from Singapore and the UK to create a beautiful installation around an 80-year-old tree.

Tan Wee Lit: In the Deadpan Bed Pan
Sculpture Square
Until 29 Jan
Opening reception: 15 Jan, 7pm
Channelling the emotions and thoughts he felt during his mid-life crisis, the local artist makes his solo debut with a collection of sculptural installations that look at life and death.

Han Sai Por: Moving Forest
STPI Gallery
Until 22 Feb
Opening reception: 14 Jan, 6pm
At the age of 70, the Cultural Medallion recipient is still as active as ever, revealing 50 new works created at STPI at this exhibition, examining the themes of nature in richly-coloured paper works.

Tanjong Pagar Distripark: 6pm

Nadiah Bamadhaj: Poised for Degradation
Richard Koh Fine Art
Until 14 Feb
The Indonesia-based Malaysian artist looks at architecture within her adopted country’s social and historical context.

Irene Namok: Puuya Kuntha – Strong Heart
ReDot Fine Art Gallery
Until 1 Mar
All created within the last 18 months, the show presents works by Irene Namok from the Lockhart River Art Community in Australia in her international solo debut.

Neo Folk 2
Ikkan Art Gallery
Until 1 Mar
The group show organised by three galleries from Singapore, Tokyo and Paris features a host of artists working in a range of media – but all of whom incorporate traditional craft elements in their contemporary works.

Sharmistha Ray: Sweet Surrender – Studies in Abstraction
Galerie Steph
Until 1 Mar
Created between 2006 and 2013, the New York-based Indian artist presents a series of rich, colourful abstract paintings that serve as metaphors for different elements of every day life.

FRATERNIZE – Tan Peiling
Artspace @ Helutrans
Until 1 Mar
Young local artist Tan Peiling was given free rein over a gallery space; her resulting site-specific installation, ‘The Blind Witness’, takes viewers through a carefully-constructed environment.

15 January

Marcel Heijnen: Residue
Until 19 Jan
Locally-based Dutch photographer – also the mastermind behind one of the coolest art cafes in town – presents new images from his Residue series to coincide with his newly-published photobook.

Victor Tan: Thoughts from Above – A Ceiling Sculpture Exhibition
F A T Gallery
Until 8 Feb
The new gallery shows off local artist Tan’s sculptures – except this time they’re all presented against the ceiling, and thus physically presenting a different perspective on how to view art.

Chris Levine
Collectors Contemporary
Until 22 Feb
The renowned light artist makes his Singapore debut with a series of light boxes, holographs, laser light installations and more.

16 January

Art Stage 2014
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre
Until 19 Jan
Back for the fourth year, the event upon which the whole Art Week centres on finally opens. The fair brings together hundreds of galleries from around the world, with the newly-introduced curated Country and Regional Platforms this year serving as an excellent starting point for those hunting for the next big names in the art world. There will also be free daily talks happening for the duration of Art Stage, with topics ranging from ‘Alternative Ways of Resolving Legal Disputes over Western and Asian Art’ (17 Jan, 1pm) to ‘The Art Markets: Hong Kong vs Singapore’ (18 Jan, 1pm). See their website for a full schedule.

Zaw Win Pe
Art Season
Until 15 Feb
Opening reception: 16 Jan, 6pm
The Burmese artist emphasises the emotive quality of his oils and acrylics by layering paint directly onto the canvas using a palette knife to explore his country’s diverse socio-cultural environments.

Abstraction and Refinement – Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings
Gajah Gallery
Until 9 Feb
Opening reception: 16 Jan, 7pm
Taking the traditional art form of Chinese ink paintings and giving it a more Westernised treatment, four avant-garde artists from China each give their own interpretations of how landscapes can be represented.

Danny Santos II: Don’t Smile!
tcc – The Gallery
Until 10 Mar
Opening reception: 16 Jan, 6.30pm
The locally-based Filipino photographer picked up the art form as a hobby six years ago and explores who people are underneath their photo-perfect smiles in this show.

17 January

Art Apart Fair
PARKROYAL on Pickering
Until 19 Jan
Had a browse through Art Stage but still haven’t found the perfect piece for your home? Well you’re in luck, as Singapore’s first – and so far only – hotel art fair returns, transforming 33 rooms to mini gallery spaces temporarily. More than 1,500 works from emerging and mid-career artists are expected to be displayed.

Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition
Suntec City
Until 5 Feb
The inaugural award celebrates emerging artistic talents from the greater Asia region, with artists from over 30 countries being nominated by a panel of experts. The shortlisted works are displayed here, and the final winner will be announced on 18 Jan.

Pinaree Sanpitak: Cold Cuts
Yavuz Fine Art
Until 23 Feb
Opening reception: 16 Jan, 7pm
Eight stainless steel sculptures that embody both the female body and the sacred Buddhist form by the renowned Thai artist are displayed alongside five new acrylic paintings.

Art Plural
Until 28 Feb
Opening reception: 16 Jan, 6.30pm
The group show features most of the artists represented by the gallery, including Fabienne Verdier, Ian Davenport and Pablo Reinoso.

Gillman Barracks: 7pm

Tomoko Kashiki
Ota Fine Arts
Until 2 Mar
The first show at Ota Fine Arts’ new space (also at Gillman Barracks) shows new works by the Japanese artist, which show women suspended between dreams and desires.

Maria Taniguchi
Until 23 Feb
The Filipino artist’s exhibition focuses on her interest in organised structures.

Where Does it All Begin? – Contemporary Abstract Art in Asia and the West
Pearl Lam Galleries
Until 28 Feb
The renowned Hong Kong/Shanghai gallery finally opens in Singapore, and makes an ambitious debut with a group show that explores abstract art from around the world, through the decades.

Paradise Lost
Centre for Contemporary Art
Until 30 Mar
Opening reception: 17 Jan, 6.30pm
Presentation: 17 Jan, 4-6pm
Nanyang Technological University’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) opens with a three-woman show as the Asian artists, who are all living overseas, reflect on their homeland.

18 January

Art in Motion Bus Tours
Until 19 Jan
Organised by the Art Galleries Association Singapore, the inaugural series of Art in Motion has 13 participating galleries around town. While there are pop-up events happening around town, the highlight is a curated bus tours of all the venues involved. Visitors can choose from three routes that will each be led by volunteer guides from the arts community. And the best part? It’s free!

Aliwal Urban Arts Festival
Aliwal Arts Centre
The one-day festival removes the formalities of high-brow art and engages with the younger arts lovers by bringing a night of awesome music and street art. Expect to see everyone from soul sister Masia One to RSCLS (aka the group that Samantha Lo, the ‘Sticker Lady’, belongs to).

Roots & The B Team: Makanlah Buah-Buahan Tempatan – Singapura
Gillman Barracks Assembly Hall, Blk 28, #01-07
Until 22 Jan
As part of the on-going arts series, The U Factory, local interdisciplinary studio Roots and Malaysia’s The B Team came together to create an art exhibition about national fruits in the context of Singapore. For their full schedule read here

Christopher Thomas: The Synchronised Power of our Mass
Yeo Workshop
Until 16 Mar
Artist talk: 18 Jan, 4pm
The UK-based Sri Lankan artist makes his Asia debut by exploring art, fashion, mass consumption as well as the way that art is circulated around the world.

Time Out Singapore: Randy Chan and Philippa Lawrence

Gwen Pew catches up with the two artists of this year’s Artist-in- Residency Exchange Programme (AiRx) to hear more about their thoughts on the residency.

Randy Chan and Philippa Lawrence talking through their ideas.

Randy Chan and Philippa Lawrence talking through their ideas.

6 Jan 2014: Now in its third year, AiRx is an annual initiative by Singapore International Foundation and the British Council, where a Singaporean artist is paired with a UK one to create new solo works as well as a final collaborative piece. The participants of this year’s programme are local architect Randy Chan, 43, and Bristol-based artist Philippa Lawrence, 45, and their resulting joint venture is a piece called ‘Angles of Incidence’. It comprises reflective multi-faceted steel pods placed beneath the canopy of the Kapok tree, and will be displayed at the Singapore Botanic Gardens before moving to the UK to be showcased at Inner Temple Gardens in London later this year

Have you previously done a collaborative piece before?
Randy Chan: Yes, many. Notably with Grace Tan for ‘Architecture as body’ at the Substation under the Future-proof show in 2012 and ‘File not found’ at Palais De Tokyo Paris with Joel Yuan, Zach [Zaki Razak] and Lee Wen.
Philippa Lawrence: No, but [the programme is] supportive and excellent, and the partners are very warm and welcoming.

What’s the most difficult thing about the residency?
RC: Time management – the ability to work on your feet and meet many interesting creative people in such a short, limited time is an art. In terms of work, we have a challenging site. We needed to think of a work that responds to Singapore Botanic Gardens and Inner Temple Gardens in London.
PL: Being on the other side of the world and the time scale made communication difficult. It was a very short, intense working period from meeting Randy to making the work. The project is at a point in what could be a longer conversation and it could have so many other permutations.

And what was the most important thing you learnt?
RC: Collaboration is a craft. Through the process, it hones your humility and makes you realise that creativity in collaboration is to understand the human condition, and to listen to nature.
PL: I learnt much about another part of the world, about land, about what I would like to do in my practice – and the need to be more open to risk.

Time Out Singapore: Art Stage 2014

For its fourth year, Art Stage Singapore introduces eight curated platforms to showcase works by emerging and midcareer artists in different regions. Gwen Pew rounds up six of the most interesting pieces you can find there.

Samuel Quinteros's 'Prelude to Mercurius'. Image courtesy of the artist.

Samuel Quinteros’s ‘Prelude to Mercurius’. Image courtesy of the artist.

30 Dec 2013:

Samuel Quinteros

Australia Platform (presented by Galerie pompom)

At only 21, Sydney-born and based artist Samuel Quinteros just graduated from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney last year, but his sophisticated dream-like paintings far belie his years. His fascination with the Asia Pacific’s culture and identity is often incorporated into his oils on canvas, but as ‘Prelude to Mercurius’ shows, Quinteros is also inspired by a wide range of topics, giving a nod to everything from European religious paintings to Japanese manga and the punk movement.

Nobuhiro Nakanishi

Japan Platform (presented by Yumiko Chiba Associates)

Hoping to get his audiences to look at the natural world in a different light and perspective, Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi plays around with the relationship between time, space and body in his pieces. Here, he takes a series of photographs of the sky (all taken in the morning) and prints them onto transparent films, which are then arranged in layers. The resulting work, titled ‘Layer Drawing – Cloud/ Fog’, provides not only a beautiful, but also all-encompassing experience for those looking at it.

Jolene Lai and Sarah Choo

South-East Asia Platform (presented by Galerie Sogan & Art)

Although Lai works with oil on canvas and Choo – who received the prestigious ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu award in 2013 – works with photography, both local artists take on Singapore’s modern issues, which is a theme that surfaces frequently in their art. Lai’s trio of paintings, including the unsettling ‘Night Market’ (pictured), show twisted, reversed city scenes, while Choo’s panoramic film, ‘The Hidden Dimension (II)’, depicts families performing mundane tasks in a surreal household.

Chen Qiulin

China Platform presented by A Thousand Plateaus Art Space)

Entitled ‘The Hundred Surnames in Tofu’, the Chinese artist’s work lives up to its namesake – it quite literally consists of a list of Chinese surnames ‘spelt’ out in the form of bean curd. Both the food and the family names are an important part of traditional culture and heritage, and as the artwork decays over the course of the exhibition,Chen is hoping to express the similar deterioration of her country’s past as it bulldozes headfirst into modernity.

Jitish Kallat

India Platform (presented by Arndt Gallery)

Deeply influenced by his native India, multimedia artist Jitish Kallat’s ‘Circadian Rhyme – 4’ comprises a row of detailed miniature figurines made out of resin, aluminium and steel. Although they are clearly being searched by officers at an immigration checkpoint, which hints at India’s attempt to enter the world economy, there’s a playful quality to the figures as well – the artist has suggested they could also be dancing with one another, implying that everyone is merely playing a role in society.

Anida Yoeu Ali

South-East Asia Platform (presented by Java Arts)

It’s not hard to understand Anida Yoeu Ali’s obsession with the notion of identity, given her background – she’s a first-generation Muslim Khmer born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. She frequently works with Studio Revolt, an independent media lab run by a group of artists, and is known for her video, installation, sound and performance pieces. Her Buddhist Bug project is no exception, which depicts Ali dressed up as the creature in various locations, symbolisin spirituality amidst today’s society.

Time Out Singapore: Dawn Ng’s ‘Windowshop – A Modern Day Cabinet of Curiosities’ Preview

The 31-year-old darling of the local art scene, Dawn Ng, tells Gwen Pew about her new show at Chan Hampe.

Dawn Ng. Image courtesy of Chan Hampe Galleries.

Dawn Ng. Image courtesy of Chan Hampe Galleries.

27 Dec 2013: Whether it’s through her lovable inflatable bunny, Walter, or her whimsical collection of boxes in Sixteen – which sold for $60,000 at Art Basel Hong Kong last year – you’ve most likely come across the work of Dawn Ng one way or another. To kick off 2014, the 31-year-old darling of the local art scene presents her newly-created Windowshop at Chan Hampe.

‘Growing up, I‘ve always had a fascination with cabinets of curiosities built during the most lavish years of Renaissance Europe, which were known as wonder rooms. They were the ultimate collector’s paradise,’ she says. ‘But Singapore is a city with such a brief history and virtually no memory as we move at such a pace of change; Windowshop is my own personal memory theatre in the context of Singapore’s own Golden Age.’

The exhibition consists of more than a thousand individual items that she sourced from over 30 junk shops, most of which will be held in custom-designed glass cabinets. One of the highlights is a piece called ‘No Point Losing These’ – ‘a waterfall of over 300 vintage marbles that are set at various heights, distance and widths apart, [and] stands as a time capsule of a particular era of childhood gone by’, as described by Ng.

‘You and Me’ is a white-marbletopped ping pong set: ‘I won’t say too much since the meaning of this piece lies within its engraved texts, but the proliferation of the ping pong table in local hipster culture is hilariously unrivalled. It deserves to be immortalised in stone. That’s just what I did.’

There will be a few items that visitors can interact with, including a merry-go-round, a salvaged coinslot and a pair of iron binoculars, but the junk shop curiosities will only form half of the show – the other half are iconic objects that Ng created as she felt they ‘were representative of this day and age’.

‘This exhibition is representative of my own documentative obsession as an artist and a mirror of my generation’s infatuation with the past. It sheds light on our human fascination with keeping things, and begs us to question that which is truly priceless,’ she explains. And as for how she managed to overcome the financial aspect of sourcing so many intricate items, her answer is simple: ‘Some serious bargaining skills! It’s all part of the fun.’

Time Out Singapore: Chris Levine

Born in Canada and now based in the UK, Chris Levine, 53, is a renowned artist who has created iconic portraits of Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth II. Rather than using traditional media like paint or pens, however, Levine is famed for his use of light. As Collectors Contemporary showcases a series of his light sculptures, light boxes, photographic prints, holographic works and laser light installations, he tells Gwen Pew more about his art.

Chris Levine's piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chris Levine’s piece of the Queen. Image courtesy of the artist.

27 Dec 2013:


While light seems to be a rather unusual medium to work with, Levine has always been fascinated with it: ‘Somehow it resonated with my curiosity – and the more I’ve looked into it, the deeper I’ve gone. I don’t see it as technical, but more that it’s a phenomenon fundamental to life [on Earth].’


Teamwork is key in creating his works: ‘Most of my work involves quite a few people and the bringing together of complementary talents. I have a great team of collaborators. Some key players in my story are Dan Siden, the brilliant engineer who oversees all aspects of development and production, Jeff Robb, my guru of 3D imaging, and the Haberdashery team, who fabricate most of my projects.’


Amidst the wires and light bulbs, the thing that he finds most challenging ‘is to keep [the pieces] soulful. For the work to be evocative, it has to somehow transcend the physical aspects of its production and work on a sensory and experiential level.’


The pieces that are most special to him are his portraits of Kate Moss: ‘I always knew I would work with her; as a cultural icon, she was right at the top of my wish list as a subject for some time. The work went down really well and all kinds of positivity have transpired as a result.’



If he didn’t become a light artist, he’d have been… ‘A drummer in a rock and roll band! I gave up drumming when I went to art school because you can’t practice quietly and I drove everyone crazy at 3am in my hall of residence. [I’m trying to bring] sound back into my work. I’m fascinated by the idea of seeing sound and it’s part of my future plans and themes.’

Time Out Singapore: Ho Tzu Nyen

After representing Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, local multimedia artist Ho Tzu Nyen marks his first solo show on home soil in ten years with PYTHAGORAS – an exhibition of four films shown simultaneously in a darkened room (lasting just over a half hour), touching on themes of control and being controlled (they’re also each named after historic figures: Newton, Milton, Gould and Pythagoras). Gwen Pew finds out five more things to know about the 37-year-old video and theatre artist.

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen. Image courtesy of Michael Janssen Gallery.

28 Nov 2013:


The last solo show Ho did here was in 2003, but he’s been far from slacking: ‘Since 2003, I’ve made a number of theatre pieces (including King Lear at the 2008 Singapore Arts Festival), a TV series (4 x 4 – Episodes of Singapore Art, 2005) and a feature film (EARTH, 2009 – select scenes are remixed into MILTON). I’ve also been involved with some projects outside of Singapore.’


Although many of his works involve theatre, his preferred type of live performance is actually music (GOULD is named after pianist Glen Gould): ‘To be honest, I don’t really enjoy going to the theatre. However, I do love the small things [about theatre] such as the lights, the speakers, the mechanisms. And I think this is apparent in the exhibition.’


He’s ‘always been a little obsessed with curtains’, which the titular film is projected onto: ‘[They are the] most ordinary and most mysterious of objects. They make known the presence of wind, they catch light, and they hover so elegantly between the inside and the outside.’


Summing up his thoughts on PYTHAGORAS, Ho says: ‘I think of this exhibition as a theatrical machine caught in a loop, where the ghosts of former works have been summoned to accompany a choir of melancholic machines.’


Looking ahead… ‘My next project is called Ten Thousand Tigers, and it is an attempt to tell the story of this region through the history of Malayan tigers – real, spectral and metaphorical. This will be a live performance next April.’

Time Out Singapore: ‘Motherland’ Preview

In an increasingly mobile and socially complicated world, the idea of ‘home’ is no longer a simple definition for many people. For their latest exhibition, Motherland, Chan Hampe Galleries brings together three artists to give their interpretation of the concept.

A work by Mike HJ Chang. Image courtesy of Chan Hampe Galleries.

A work by Mike HJ Chang. Image courtesy of Chan Hampe Galleries.

28 Nov 2013: In an increasingly mobile and socially complicated world, the idea of ‘home’ is no longer a simple definition for many people. For their latest exhibition,Motherland, Chan Hampe Galleries brings together three artists to give their interpretation of the concept.

The exhibition takes its name from Sherman Ong’s ongoing film series (of which a few are shown in the gallery), depicting actors reciting the stories of real-life migrants in Singapore. Robert Zhao Renhui has also provided three works from his As We Walked on Water series, which depict landscapes from a desert in Japan.

Rounding out the group is locally-based Taiwanese-American artist Mike HJ Chang, who created several new works for the exhibition. ‘I’m not very sure [what “home” means to me],’ he admits. ‘I don’t think I even use the word “home” very much nowadays. If I use the word in conversation, I am probably referring to the place where I’m going to go to take a nap and where I feel comfortable reading in my boxers. I know these are just the superficial things, but to be honest, I don’t think about it much these days.’

The show’s title, he continues, is a bit of ‘a loaded term that could draw unnecessary emphasis on the wrong things sometimes’. Nevertheless, the underlying theme is relevant to his background and his work. ‘Is home a “place”, or a “space”, or both?’ he muses. ‘[One of my pieces] uses some postcards I bought when I was in Bali. They’re very generic beach postcards: palm trees, surfboards in the sand, sunset on the horizon, etc. They could have been from any tropical beach destination, so there is confusion in terms of identifying familiar scenes and how we respond to that.’

Chang’s additional works, including several sculptures and collages, also show his ‘affinity with the generic, low-brow type of image or design’, he says. ‘These kind of clichés do have a special place in our emotive space. I feel comfortable with them.’