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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?
The Bophana Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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.
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