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Pop Artist Jahan Loh Returns to the Beginning with 'Genesis: God's Terrarium'


Pop Artist Jahan Loh Returns to the Beginning with 'Genesis: God's Terrarium'
The artist, Jahan Loh working on his sculpture piece. Image Courtesy of The Culture Story.


In light of Singaporean pop artist, Jahan Loh's upcoming solo exhibition entitled, 'Genesis: God's Terrarium' at The Culture Story in January 2018, The Artling team speaks with the artist to find out more about his creative collaborations and inspirations that led to the conceptualisation of his new works. 


You are known for your notable collaborations with lifestyle brands such as, Adidas, Vans and Samsung with your distinct visual expression of colour and popular imagery. What are your thoughts on the way contemporary art and pop culture has been embraced by society and vice versa?

In our ultra fast paced modern society, I feel like I am a witness to capture the velocity and pace and transform it into something static and monumental. Emulating what Andy Warhol did in the '70s in terms of understanding that an artist could cross over from high art and the low brow art at the same time, I think that what he has pioneered is still relevant today.

In the ’90s in Asia, the commercial world of design and the fine art world of the galleries were completely different entities, and interpreted in isolation from each other. These labels and classification have been torn down in our modern Asian paradigm whereby the art world understands design and the design audience understood art. This synergy creates a very fertile void in between them, which I see myself creating art and products to fill it. My art, which crosses between high and low art, even art and design, transcends time and space,  taking a phase of life and pulling it outside of time, and yet referential of the time out of which it came.


The path of an artist is not an easy one, what inspires you and what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?

The path of an artist is certainly unpredictable and never easy with no roads mapped out. As a forward thinking individual, I gave up a career in law to pursuit my passion and interest. At that point in time, many thought that I was mad. I have conditioned myself to listen to my inner voice, and always to surpass any expectations or limitations of predictability. One of my greatest challenges was to breakaway from the safety of a day job, breaking my education bond and plunging myself into art. I like the feeling of free falling rather than to feel stagnant. If the situation no longer holds any interest nor excites me, it’s time to move.


Jahan Loh, Genesis God's Terrarium EDEN I (C), 2017, Mixed Media on Canvas, 128 x 128cm.
Image Courtesy of The Culture Story. 

We are excited about your upcoming exhibition “Genesis: God’s Terrarium” at The Culture Story in January 2018! Featuring never-seen before paintings & sculpture, do share with us the artistic vision that led to the conceptualisation of these new works.

“Genesis: God’s Terrarium” is created with my preoccupation with existentialism. I see our garden planet Earth as “God’s Terrarium” – a biosphere where genetically engineered humanoids contain DNA of the Gods and were given knowledge and tools to prosper and thrive. It is based on my visual translation after reading historical religious text. The visuals are based on my imagination surrounding the time of Man’s Creation and the Garden of Eden before Man’s expulsion.


The definition of art has continued to evolve and expand over time, giving more freedom to an artist’s choice of media and mode of representation. Currently your works are predominantly painting or sculpture. Are there any mediums that you are interested in exploring?

I am constantly experimenting, and I am exploring possibilities of creating art in the virtual world. As a contemporary artist, I feel lucky that there are so many different mediums of art for me to express my concepts. Art merchandise like sneakers, clothing and watches are new modes of expression for my art.


The artist in his studio.
Image Courtesy of The Culture Story. 

We have seen pictures of your amazing studio. What about your work space best reflects your identity as a pop artist?

My studio is where I feel the most comfortable and where I create my works. I am a hoarder and a consumer; I have filled my studio with toys, antiques and objects from my travels. These objects give me inspiration and memories associated to them at the point I collected them. Some objects evoke a memory of place or atmosphere, and when I create art, I feed off the energy and memories from objects in my studio. It’s helpful for visitors who visit my studio to know my interest and collections and how it influences my art. I think the myriad of objects in my studio cumulatively defines me as an artist.


After working in cities all over the world - namely New York and Taiwan, you have finally returned back home to Singapore. How has your experiences enriched your practice and your perspective on art?

Living away from home for close to a decade took me outside of my comfort zone and I adapted to new people and new cultural practices. Every city I have worked in leaves a personal experience which alters my cognition, shaping different concepts in my work. Looking back, the art that I have created in different cities had unique visual representation of the way the world appeared to me then, gaining new perspective on life. This made me understand myself and my cultural identity of being a Singaporean artist of Chinese descent. In summary, I would say these cities and places have showed me that I can transcend any limitations anywhere in the galaxy.



A work in progress.
Image Courtesy of The Culture Story. 

What is your opinion on the Singapore art scene today and how can we continue to encourage and support budding young talent?

I am not really plugged into the art scene here, being a hermit cooped up in my studio most of the time. I would think that the Singapore art scene is pretty vibrant today, with a lot more opportunities, and a much more open audience who appreciate and support local talent. I think that conversations and education is crucial for the new generation of artists coming out from Singapore.


Aside from ‘Genesis’, what are you working on at the moment? Could you give us a preview of any new artistic projects underway for 2018?

I am preparing for my “Cherry Pop 3” exhibition in China.



'Genesis: God's Terrarium' is on show at The Culture Story, 2 Leng Kee Road #03-06 Thye Hong Centre Singapore 159086, from 17th January till 18th March 2018 (by appointment only). For more information and to make an appointment click here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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