Showing posts from February, 2016

Snippets: National Gallery Singapore, Jan 2016 (II)

…Painting European conventions into local subject matter, evolves into incorporating local styles. Walter Spies’ ‘Balinese Legend’ looks like a crossover of Henri Rousseau with a Chinese ink landscape. ‘Pasar’ by Hendra Gunawan projects a wonderful abstract style for its time, in painting a typical market scene. A Japanese soldier in Fernando Cueto Amorsolo’s ‘Marketplace during the Occupation’, recalls a tumultuous time despite its straightforward depiction. Vietnamese lacquer on board – with its golden splendour – demand its own compositional elements. S. Sudjojono’s large painting is a sight to behold, and befitting of its masterpiece status. Representative works by Malaysian and Singaporean artists from the 1960s are typically abstractions. Do Indonesian and Filipino art feature more politically-charged content, as compared to the rest of Southeast Asia? Hendra Gunawan – Pasar (c. 1940s) Batik patterns by Jaafar Latiff and Yusman Aman captivate, although it is the first

Snippets: National Gallery Singapore, Jan 2016 (I)

As part of its Renaissance City Plan , two municipal buildings are combined to form Singapore’s new National Gallery, which boasts an 8,000 strong collection of Southeast Asian art. Despite running up & down stairs that still smell new, and dashing across cavernous halls between galleries, I still missed a few rooms and was late for my next appointment. The concourse galleries offer an auspicious start to my visit, which showcase works made in the 1970s that steered away from traditional art mediums. “A Fact Has No Appearance” recognises the pioneering efforts of three artists in the region, respectively – Malaysian Redza Piyadasa (text-based art), Perth-based Tan Teng-Kee (performance art and found object sculptures), and Filipino Johnny Manahan (video art). Redza Piyadasa – Malaysian Art Review (1978) Only managing a cursory glance at exhibits by the latter two artists due to a time constraint, Teng-Kee’s creations strike a formal impression. My assumption was confir

The Kings of Wishful Thinking @ Wei-Ling Contemporary

Anurendra Jegadeva utilises enlarged prints of the Malaysian banknote as a background to draw his typical cast of characters – the schoolgirl, the devotee, the poet, etc. In a stunted economy with a depreciating currency, the Ringgit becomes an easy symbol and a lazy target. The king’s head is a straightforward focal point in these creations, although the re-drawn royal portrait with the Nasi Lemak lady offers a good look at an image most take for granted. Going through this series of works, the overbearing nationalist sentiment turns into tiresome commentaries. I got a stronger impression when being told that visiting this sold-out show is by appointment only, as J. Anu takes precautionary steps to mitigate a previous unfortunate experience . [from l to r] Photograph of Malaya's first Agong Tuanku Abdul Rahman [picture from ]; Detail on a RM 10 bank note; Detail from Portrait of  the King with a Nasi Lemak Lady (2015) Moving onto ‘Yesterday in a Padded Ro

(χ_+) Unknown Plus @ Minut Init Art Social

“Unknown to us, we do have a sense to appreciate beautiful and morbid things”, states a wall text in Ajim Juxta’s exhibition of drawings, paintings, and poems. The prolific artist, active in Publika’s Art Row and often seen at Artisan Roast TTDI, is known for his grotesque yet attractive creations. Dystopic visions – of technological assimilation and development pace – are quoted as a source of inspiration, although the mesmerising quality of his works draw from a visual familiarity with organic forms. Scrawling perspective lines and dark shades threaten to overwhelm, but distinct shapes and ample white space around the subject matter nicely balance out these pictures.  Installation snapshot Contrasting with the dense and vivid paintings in his past works, the presentation here follows a typical portraiture and character design formats. The mannequin/ mask and the monument symbolise the artificial, but sinuous lines utilised to illustrate reveal such metaphors as a façade. T

Extending Ideas @ Feeka

One often hears that “contemporary art is open to interpretation”. Meaning-making in visual art tends to be overwhelmingly personal, and reading an artwork relies on knowledge about art history, socio-political environment, cultural tropes, etc. Typically overlooked are the emotional and thinking states of the viewer, when one visits an exhibition space. In the case of “Extending Ideas” – the Goethe-Institut sponsored follow-up to “ Thinking Drawing ” – I alighted the café’s staircase after learning about the Zika virus earlier that morning. Despite having seen a number of exhibits by Elias Yamani Ismail and Veronika Neukirch in shows last year, the former’s critical take on standards appear less potent, while fruits depicted by the latter (silicon-plaster, or otherwise) seem more forbidden than before. Astrid Köppe - Baran Light Box I (2015) Vacuum-packed wooden carvings by Eddie Choo Wen Yi recall a quarantined environment, or imported Chinese New Year delicacies. In