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Beyond Stuff...
Mizuma Gallery, with the support of The Artling, presents 'Beyond Stuff', an exhibition featuring some of the most renowned Chinese artists....

September 06, 2014

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Review: 'A Drawing Show' at Yeo Workshop...
Drawing, one would tend to assume, is pretty simple stuff – after all, everyone does it, in one way or another. Schoolkids add moustaches to historical figures in their textbooks, office-workers doodle idly while pretending to pay attention in endless meetings, and sometimes it’s just faster to convey an idea to someone by grabbing the nearest bit of spare paper and tossing off a quick sketch. This elemental simplicity comes into play in the title of Yeo Workshop’s latest show – an exhibition of drawings titled, surprisingly enough, ‘A Drawing Show.’ In an age of ever-multiplying, ever more sophisticated media for artists to work in, what’s the place of what might be the simplest medium of all?   Of course, the simplicity of drawing doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s somehow crudely deficient, as stone tools would be compared to, say, a surgical scalpel. It hints, instead, at its foundational character in visual art, forming the basis of fundamental concepts like line and form, which are then propagated through the diverse menagerie of media available to artists today. At the same time, the proliferation of media allows for the emergence of different perspectives on these basic building blocks, giving artists the context in which to explore, investigate, and even re-assess the nature of drawing itself. Ian Woo, Tracker (2) Viewed in this light, even the basic act of taking pencil to paper boasts a wealth of possible significance, as we might encounter in the seductive grace of Ian Woo’s drawings. His amorphous forms, verging on the geometric and resisting any simple readings,  seem at once both opaque and transparent, the patterns and almost-patterns sprawling across our field of view according to their own logic, somehow reminiscent of floaters and other oddities of human vision. It’s best, perhaps, to discard any attempt to decipher them as abstractions or representations of something or another, and allow your eyes and mind to wander through these visual territories. Presenting a stronger sense of rootedness are works by Boedi Widjaja. Though we might imagine that the basic procedure of drawing consists of making marks on a given surface, Widjaja adds a layer of depth – in physicality, and history – by deriving these marks from rubbings of surfaces he encountered during a residency in a medieval French village. In effect, the works act as a medium or interface between two very different senses of place, drawing a line between surface worn by history, and the coolly timeless space of an art gallery, with the former also intruding into the latter in Widjaja’s eschewing of conventional display of his densely textured works, opting instead for prosaic materials like brick and glass. Wong Lip Chin’s works take yet another perspective on drawing, taking the solidly graphical traditions of animation and distributing them throughout the gallery. While each glyph or drawing certainly remains on a two-dimensional surface, the body of work as a whole is distributed through the space, confounding easy distinctions between drawing and site-specific installation, perhaps as some wry mutant offspring of the free-spirited character of (non-commissioned, distinctly unofficial) graffiti and street art. Much as drawing a line requires one to move a pencil (or pen, or other implement), the show, taken together, reminds us that drawing isn’t some static, stagnant, subsidiary thing to be looked over in favour of media of greater purported sophistication – even the simplest of systems and rules can lead to exponential depth and complexity. A Drawing Show runs until Sep 14, 12 to 7 pm Tue to Sat, 12 to 6 pm Sundays, at Yeo Workshop, #01-01 1 Lock Road, Singapore 108932. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Free admission.   ...

August 22, 2014

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Review: Solo Exhibition by Michael Lee at Yavuz Fine Art...
Keep reading for our review of Singapore artist Michael Lee's current solo exhibition at Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore....

August 22, 2014

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Review: Zen Teh, ''Calls for a New Natural Order'' at 2902 Gallery...
Here in tiny, land-scarce Singapore, it comes as no surprise that nature’s often had to take a backseat to the demands of progress and development. Even as campaigns to save the Green Corridor and Bukit Brown make it plain that not everybody’s on board with the idea of replacing natural areas with highways and shopping malls, there’s precious little left of nature on the island. What does remain often ends up aggressively manicured, presenting not so much nature as some carefully orchestrated interpretation of nature, filtered through very human expectations and perspectives. Zen Teh’s first solo exhibition in Singapore, ‘Calls for a New Natural Order,’ examines, among other things, this curiously dysfunctional relationship with nature. It’s a relationship that could be compared, if we’re being uncharitable, to anime-obsessed shut-ins who become bizarrely attached to purely fictional characters.   Which is not to say that Teh’s photography can be boiled down to some nostalgic pursuit of images of an authentic, unspoiled nature – of lushly rugged landscapes to be contemplated at our leisure in a comfortably air-conditioned gallery. Hers is a rather more critical eye, questioning our relationship with nature and the landscape in three very distinct bodies of work from the past four years.   The series 'The Imperative Landscape,’ for instance, is built on dense, large-scale images of Chiang Rai forests, discarding the usual landscape format for less conventional shapes – a circle with a hole in the middle, a notched triangle, and what might well be a reference to the yoni symbol. Rendered in a subdued monochrome with a glossy diasec finish, these dramatic forms suggest both a confrontational graphic sensibility and a concern with sacred geometry – nature not as some passive ground to be built over, but an active, primal force, one which provides the foundations of our myths and symbols.   Though the show is largely one of photographs, there are influences beyond that of photography itself – most notably, painting, and particularly that of traditional Chinese painting. Teh’s 'Unknowing’ series and 'Singapore Landscape Painting’ are both printed on scrolls of hand-made paper, horizontally and vertically respectively. It’s a gesture that verges on affectation, particularly in the case of 'Singapore Landscape Painting,’ which requires you to carefully – almost tediously – manhandle the scroll to take in the whole image. The physical investment involved in viewing lushly verdant scenes of sameness seems to function as commentary in itself, on our endless vistas of cookie cutter flats and malls. Zen Teh, Unknowing Triptych   Composed as they are of photo-composites of various natural scenes in Singapore – ranging from familiar parks and reserves to other, less identifiable fragments of landscape – the two series suggest a relationship with nature founded, on some level, on some sense of limitless editability. An approach to the natural world that has something in common with Spotify’s systems of musical recommendation, or the filter bubbles quietly imposed on us by Google’s monitoring of our internet search habits.   At the same time, the compositing of these photographs to suggest landscapes wholly strange to our own experiences of Singapore suggests a touch of deception or concealment through collation, lending a touch of disquiet and unease to these otherwise lushly beautiful images. Far from simply indulging our taste for contemplating nature from afar, the show hints at some sort of complicity and instability, disrupting our settled gaze.   Calls for a New Natural Order runs until Aug 10, 12 to 7 pm Tue to Sat, 1 to 5 pm Sundays, at 2902 Gallery, #02-02 222 Queen Street, Singapore 188550. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Free admission.   ...

July 16, 2014

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Reflections: King For a Day by Equator Art Projects ...
Check out some of the artists' reflections on their works in "King For a Day," now showing at Equator Art Projects. ...

July 16, 2014

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EDITION(ED)...
The Art Galleries Association of Singapore presents their annual exhibition titled Edition(ed) at Artspace@Helutrans, from 17 - 20th July. Over 20 participating galleries will be showcasing more than 70 works ranging from photographs, prints, sculptures and digital works. The Artling director, Talenia will be taking part in a panel discussion on the history and currency of editions, alongside Eitaro Ogawa, chief printer of STPI and Belinda Fox, artist and printmaker, Louis Ho, art historian, critic and curator, and moderated by Benjamin Hampe of Chan Hampe Galleries. Don’t miss this event! For more details, check out www.agas.org.sg ...

July 10, 2014

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New Exhibition: Cicadas Cicadas by Genevieve Chua...
Interview with Genevieve Chua ahead of her upcoming exhibition at GUSFORD Gallery in Los Angeles. ...

July 09, 2014

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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

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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

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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

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