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Review: Departures...
While the model of apprenticeship (and the lineage of influence it implies) isn’t nearly the force it once was, talking about the influence of artists and teachers remains – which makes Departure quite the interesting study, featuring Milenko Prvacki and four of his former students. It’s tempting to envision something like wildly divergent interpretations of the same jazz standard, like April in Paris as imagined by Count Basie on one hand, and Thelonius Monk on the other.   “Greetings From…” by Milenko Prvacki’s , 2014, acrylic on linen, 200 x 200cm. Of course, that’s not to say that it’s just a simple transfer of information from one to another, giving rise to varying interpretations of one original theme. Each of them’s an artist in their own right, at varying stages of their careers, with their own areas of concern, and individual approaches in technique and style – a fact which discourage attempts to read the works on show in terms of simple generational differences. It’s a show of departures, after all, and not of origins. “Monogatari (II)” by Hilmi Johandi,2014, Oil on canvas, 240 x 80cm.   “Ampas (Residue)” by Hilmi Johandi,2013.Oil on canvas, 144 x 94 cm. For instance, while being of the same age and sharing Prvacki as a teacher, the paintings of Hilmi Johandi and Luke Heng couldn’t be any more different. Johandi’s works are easily the most recognisably representational in the show, drawing imagery from P. Ramlee’s Bujang Lapok films and Ozu’s Tokyo Story to form collages of sorts, as if condensing some essence of each film into a single image. They’re both accompanied by short, looping animations based on the films, suggesting an approach that’s equal parts homage and a meditation on the films. “b_28” by Luke Heng, 2014, Oil on Linen,160x120cm. “p/21” by Luke Heng, 2014, Oil on linen, 179.5 x 134.5 cm. Heng’s paintings, on the other hand, take a far more abstract approach – vivid monochromes that might hint at patterns like wood grain and rainfall, with terse titles like b/28 and p/21. With the surface textures straddling some point of ambiguity between brushstrokes and drips, closer examination suggests delicate layering that yields, at times, lushly saturated colours. There’s a sense that Heng’s paintings are as much about their process of making as providing sensory and aesthetic stimulation. It’s an impression which it shares with Jeremy Sharma’s works, though Sharma’s use of enamel on dibond suggests a more exhaustive, analytically rigorous approach – one which leaves traces not of the artist’s brush, but some elegantly refined, somehow computational process of crafting subtle textures and variations in colour which seem to encode the works’ enigmatic titles, like Rosetta, or Untitled (Eros). “Rosetta I” by Jeremy Sharma, 2013, Enamel paint on dibond with aluminium channel, 243 x 114cm.  “Untitled (Eros)” by Jeremy Sharma, 2014, Enamel paint on dibond with aluminium channel, 140 x 86 x 5.5cm.   Conversely, the subjects of Filip Gudovic’s plainly descriptive titles – plain enough to be photo captions in magazines or technical manuals – seem instead to have been decomposed or dissected by the artist into their constituent components, as with the palette-like Design of an Italian Restaurant. Or perhaps they’ve been stripped down to some bare minimum of form, as seen in the rectangular enclosures of A House Inside a Building, and A View of a Garden. “A View of a Garden” by Filip Gudovic, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 26 cm.   “Design of an Italian Restaurant” by Filip Gudovic, 2014 ,Oil, acrylic and emulsion on canvas, 210x160cm. If there is something tangible which unites the works of these former students of Prvacki, it’s a certain quiet efficacy in approaching painting. What might seem like a stray brushstroke, instead, could not have been otherwise – perhaps the lasting legacy of influence of Prvacki’s inimitable style, somehow transformed and embedded in these varied techniques, approaches, and areas of concern. Departure runs till 21 June 2014 at iPreciation, Mondays to Fridays, from 10am to 7pm, and Saturdays from 11am to 6pm. Sundays and public holidays by appointment only. Admission is free.   ...

June 11, 2014

Caret Right Secondary
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Review: Passage...
When it comes to art in Singapore, it’s hard to overstate the influence of Delia and Milenko Prvacki. Having been here for just over twenty years, they’re more than just mainstays; Milenko, for one, has spent 17 years as LASALLE’s Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, while Delia’s works should be a familiar sight to most, with her long history of commissions and installations in public and outdoor spaces. Despite having been together for 42 years, Passageis only the fifth time they’ve shown together. Asked about the rarity of them showing together, the couple responded, “Our common language and shared aesthetic brought us together in the first place; we influence each other, but ultimately we have our individual careers.”   As one more milestone in a lifelong journey through art that’s taken them from Europe to Asia (and the rest of the world besides), Passage seems like quite the fitting title, suggesting as it does both a sense of motion and the spaces through which one moves. The layout of the show also underscores this notion of a journey, with Milenko’s paintings providing markers, as their titles suggest, of Entrance, Exit, and perhaps what happens in between those two points: Unsent Letter. These evocative notions serve to frame the sparsely lyrical play within each painting, each replete with varied textures and gestures, as well as forms hover on some edge of recognition. From left to right: “18 Hours”, “Ring”, “Silk Road”, “Exit”, and “Unsent Letter”. Bottom right: “Rare Earth”. At first glance, Delia’s works present an overall impression of geometric solidity, somewhat like monuments and civic buildings that dot city centres. However, hers is not a geometry of regularity, and closed, perfect forms – there’s variation through each body of work, which suggests organic growth and accumulation. This sense of progression is most evident in the serial arrangement of 18 Hours and 7 Days, while the looped forms of Ring and Silk Road also suggest the cyclical, and the possibilities of return and repetition in movement. From left to right: “Exit”, “Silk Road”, and “Unsent Letter”. The variety present in the surfaces of her work serves also to distance it from rigidity and finality, featuring everything from gradual progressions of colour, to variations in reflection and lustre, shifting patterns of mosaics. Commenting on the richness of colour in her work, Delia said, “My work is influenced by the colour and light around me – coming from Europe to the tropics, we were influenced by the change in light, colour, and humidity. It’s certainly changed the chromatic values in my work. In what might be a nod to the silk road of old, Rare Earth, Pieces from the Sea and Silk Roadfeature approaches to texture and form ranging from sand and grit to assemblages of glazed and gilded flotsam. This connection also calls to mind recent scholarship, attested to by potsherds and other ceramic artifacts, which point to Singapore’s status as a trading centre stretching much farther back than 1819. At times, the show seems like an archaeological dig of some unspecified time – past and future both – of some relentlessly intermingled, vibrant and yet somehow alien culture. From left to right: “Ring”, “Silk Road”, and “Exit”.   “We believe in immersing ourselves in the rich history of the region, as we ourselves come from a place of rich history. Moving to Singapore enabled us to travel through the region, and so our work has been influenced by places like India, Bali, and Borobudur, and things like Peranakan and Vietnamese ceramics.” The wealth of history aside, however, the couple had more to share on Singapore and the silk road: “Living in Singapore today, you cannot escape the oft-recurring terms like ‘globalisation’, and 'East-meets-West.’ But how do you make that East-West distinction in such a mixed society?” Passage runs till 15 June 2014 at Luxe Art Museum, Tuesdays to Sundays, from 11am to 7pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission is free.   ...

June 04, 2014

Caret Right Secondary
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New Exhibition: Of Indeterminate Time Or Occurrence by Heman Chong...
The Artling caught up with artist Heman Chong, Singapore’s very own enfant terrible and gallerist Stephanie Fong at the recent opening of Of Indeterminate Time Or Occurrence at FOST Gallery. The exhibition contains four different works highlighting Heman’s practice, which provides a way of understanding relationships between image and text, examining how one is intrinsically linked to the other in his idiosyncratic manner of generating fictional narratives. This exhibition features 66 new paintings from the Cover (Versions), and our personal favourite, the new neoon work Never (Again). Catch the show before it ends on 4 May 2014.   Interview with Stephanie Fong, founder/Director of FOST Gallery Why did you choose to showcase Heman Chong? Where does he stand; significance in the local art scene? I choose artists whose practice interests me. It is of course with the benefit of hindsight can we really judge the significance of an artist, or anything else for that matter. So ask me again in about 20 years’ time. However if you are asking me to predict the trajectory of Heman’s career, then I will say it is on the upward. What is unique about Heman’s practice? I like that he is always challenging our notions of art and art making, sometimes seriously, sometimes tongue-in-cheek. What is FOST Gallery’s mission? To present artists with a predilection for being at the fore of contemporary art. Are his works worth collecting? Why should one collect Heman Chong? Heman Chong is one of the most exciting contemporary Singaporean artists to collect. I like that he challenges collectors not only at a fundamental level but in many works, he also forces the collectors to take a more active role by involving them in some decision-making after the acquisition. Buyers of Heman’s works enjoy such challenges and are not passive collectors. What is your advice for new and budding art collectors?  Buy what you like and buy the best you can afford. (Above and below) Of Indeterminate Time of Occurrence by Heman Chong at FOST Gallery Interview with Heman Chong Which words or phrases do you most overuse? F**k off! / What the f**k?! / Are you f**king serious? / Are you f**king kidding me? / What the f**k is going on? / How the f**k am I suppose to think about this? / What a f**king bad show. What is your favourite place to see art? Dia Beacon in upstate New York. Do you have a museum- or gallery-going routine? Obviously. What’s your favourite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant? This is a question for Aun Koh, not me.  Do you collect anything? Hardcover first editions of novels that are discarded by public libraries. What’s the last artwork you purchased? I don’t need to buy art. Usually, I am able to barter for great pieces with my own work. I have about 18 pieces of amazing pieces in my collection, the contents of which are a secret. Gallerists will have us assassinated if they knew what we exchanged. What work of art do you wish you owned? Gerhard Richter  Rocket 1966  93 cm x 73 cm Oil on canvas What would you do to get it? Nothing. I don’t wish for things I don’t have. This prevents stomach ulcers. What’s your art world pet peeve? Stupid questions. What international art destination do you most want to visit? The Miho Museum in Kyoto. Apparently, it’s not only a museum but a shrine that is used by the Shinji Shumeikai spiritual movement. Founded by Mihoko Koyama in 1970, the movement believes in ‘the pursuit of beauty through art, appreciation of nature and natural agriculture, a method of food cultivation.’ They also practice johrei, a type of spiritual healing. Adherents of Shumeikai believe that, in building architectural masterpieces in remote locations, they are restoring the Earth’s balance. I like it when things are not what they are, that there is a hidden core behind what is visible. https://www.miho.or.jp/english/ What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about? The Bophana Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. https://www.bophana.org/site/index.php Who is your favourite living artist? Sung Hwan Kim What is the last great book you read? The Sound and The Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata. Interviewed by Ning Chong (FYI : Aun Koh is a Singaporean food blogger and founder of chubbyhubby.net) More of Heman Chong’s works for sale at The Artling. ...

March 24, 2014

Caret Right Secondary
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Review: Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes...
Although it’s been a long time since artists started exploring the possibilities of sound, sound art has long had something of a marginal character, owing to a certain definitional slipperiness, readily overlapping with fields like music and performance art. That may be beginning to change, though, with 2010 seeing the first Turner prize awarded to a work of sound art. Here in Singapore, Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes, curated by Bani Haykal and Joleen Loh, showcases some of the most fascinating examples of sound art from the past few years, bringing together a diverse group of seventeen artists, each approaching sound from their unique perspective. As befits a major survey of sound art in Singapore, there’s an archive available for perusal – Mark Wong’s Finding Sound. It brings together numerous fragments and artifacts of Singapore’s aural history, ranging from video interviews to newspaper clippings and cassette tapes, each annotated by the artist. Rather than presenting a potted chronology of the subject, establishing clear lines of descent from early to contemporary sound art, Finding Sound offers a richly textured look into the complicated interconnections which gave rise to (and now characterise) sound in Singapore. It’s more concerned with sound in art, rather than sound art per se; here, sound art’s blurred boundaries overlap and exchange influences with performance art, underground rock and experimental music, amongst others. Not only does sound have a distinct bent towards the interdisciplinary, it also lends itself well to a variety of presentations, and modes of experience. Much of the show is divided into listening stations and sound scores. The former offers an altogether individual listening experience, with each recording neatly enclosed by headphones. Fittingly enough, the listening stations themselves, orderly ranks of blank little plinths, are visually indistinguishable from each other – there’s no telling what you’ll be getting into, whether harsh noise, delicate instrumentals, or ambient field recordings. Of course, you could always refer to the gallery layout plan, but where’s the fun in that? If the word ‘score’ brings to mind neatly ruled sheets of paper with sensible arrangements of musical notes, the selection here ought to be more than enough to challenge the limits of that convention. For instance, Brian O'Reilly’s Linear Element resembles a sketch of some urban environment – perhaps shophouses, while Zai Tang’s Respect II (Bukit Brown Cemetery I), in ink and graphite, offers a gestural, expressive interpretation of the ambient sounds of that soon-to-be highway, which you can hear with the turntable provided. In addition to the scores and listening posts, the show also features other situations and experiences of listening; the first you might encounter is Ang Song-Ming’s No Man’s Band, situated just outside the gallery’s doors. Drawn from recordings of rehearsals of Bowen Secondary School’s brass band rehearsals, the serendipitous discontinuities and dissonances of rehearsal seems to form a suitable contrast to the structured environment of Singapore’s secondary schools, while also suggesting the exploratory character of the show as a whole. Mohamad Riduan, Hijrah (detail), presented at Bridge: Dari Utara ke Selatan (Bridge: From North to South), Jendela, Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, mixed media installation, dimensions variable, 2013. Photo: Muhamad Wafa Like the transient, ephemeral nature of sound, the show itself isn’t static, featuring a programme of changing installations and live performances. The current temporary installation, Mohamad Riduan’s Hijrah atau Jihad, centres on row after row of simple motor-driven stringed instruments, controlled by a panel bristling with switches, powered by small photo-voltaic cells. The installation adds a layer of interactivity to the exhibition, enjoining the viewer to participate in modifying and composing the aural environment of the gallery. Sound: Latitudes and Attitudes runs from 7 February to 16 March 2014 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 6pm. Admission  ...

February 12, 2014

Caret Right Secondary
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