Sarah Choo Jing on technology’s isolating effect
Sarah’s works such as the multimedia installation The Hidden Dimension II (2013) may have caught your eye at the Singapore Art Museum, where it is part of their permanent collection. As a 90s kid, she’s interested in exploring the increasing isolation of individuals in an urban context, and her works have a signature voyeuristic tinge that piques the curiosity of the observer.
Growing up in a generation powered by technology, she’s frightened by how reliant society is on technology and how it has “contributed to the loneliness epidemic”.
Eugene Soh’s appreciation of the grass at his side of the fence
Sarah’s university batch mate, Eugene, is someone who values the input from trusted friends in the process of creating his art. Catapulted into the limelight with his localized rendition of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, which was shot in Maxwell Food Market, Soh’s mini-versions of the Last Kopitiam (2010) can now be purchased at the National Gallery Singapore. Now you know where to look for a uniquely Singaporean gift!
Though inspired by David LaChapelle, Kanye West and Jesus, being Singaporean strikes at the very core of his artwork. He used to crave for greener pastures, but his views have since shifted.
“It was either I appreciate the grass where I am standing or I make it greener my way,” quips Eugene.
Muhammad Izdi’s obsession with paper and standing up against the #fitspo culture
Once a senior designer who conceptualised catalogues, ads and brochures of the Singapore Art Museum, Izdi is still very in love with paper. He opened his own Risograph Press, Knuckles & Notch, which works on independent projects with Kult Kafe such as “ZINE party”.
Together with art collective DXXXD, Izdi put up a show at Aliwal Street titled No Regrets for Our Youth (2017), which explores the #fitspo phenomenon of gyms.
“Gym culture usually envisions a utopian reality that has to do with one’s health and body. Nowadays, the purpose of the gym has changed and going to one has become a kind of lifestyle or vanity thing,” Izdi told Channel NewsAsia.
It is interesting to see how the “social media” generation has caused a shift in the purpose of gyms. Once a health zone, it’s now a place where people seek social affirmation on an idealised body image.
Urich Lau’s embrace of tech tools and techniques
Urich currently lectures at LASALLE College of the Arts. Starting off as an analogue photographer who made use of the dark room, Urich’s practice has since evolved. He now embraces the digital medium, but still retains the conceptual framework of traditional photographic methodologies.
“The tools and techniques in photography will evolve and develop in time, and my conceptual framework will be derived from both traditional and digital photographic methodologies.” – Urich Lau
Urich’s latest work, Three Domes (2017), inspired by Greco-Roman architecture from Singapore’s colonial history, was created using digital photography. It is a “symbolic reminder of the arts being under an institutional structure and constant regulation for the mainstream public”.
PHUNK studio on why art is bigger than life
Our first encounter of PHUNK studio’s work was “Love Bomb”, a tongue-in-cheek powerful symbol of how love could turn into mass destruction. It was ironically housed in Deutsche bank as part of OH! Open House.
Their light-hearted perception of life can be seen from how they relate to the creative scene:
“We feel that the local creative scene is dynamic and progressive, with many groups of artists and designers doing different projects, with diverse directions, akin to being like the ingredients in a Rojak. We wouldn’t change anything in the Rojak recipe though. Instead, we’ll celebrate and eat it!”
Their latest work showcased at Art Stage 2017, “HOPE, ROCK, KISS, LIVE”, is a thought-provoking reflection of our fast-paced society, with layer upon layer of peeled-off street posters revealing current events that come and go.
“Perfection – it is something we can never achieve but we struggle to attain it. HOPE, ROCK, KISS, LIVE has an aesthetic that reflects that. Through its unruly layers of paper tears, it reminds us to embrace the perfect imperfection.”
Ming Wong’s subversion of male and female stereotypes
Ming Wong is a rebel. He dismisses local art history and turns to films to seek inspiration. Taking a cue from “In the Mood for Love” (2000 – Wong Kar Wai), Ming parodies Wong Kar Wai’s work by coming up with his own version, “In the Love for Mood” (2009), whereby the Caucasian protagonist is forced to converse in a foreign language.
“The actors are Chinese, Malay and Indian, representing the three main ethnic blocs of Singapore. So then there’s that great part where she says, “I’m somebody else.” She turns to the mirror and screams, “I’m white!” over and over again. [Laughs.] So as in all my work, the actors become impostors.” – said Ming Wong to Art in America
Often taking on the roles of the male and female in his artistic films, he subverts the gender stereotypes that are portrayed on screen.
Ong Kim Seng on staying true to an unadulterated meditation of space and light
We round off this list with one of the gatekeepers of the Singapore “Nanyang” art scene that paved the way for the current generation of artists. In a world where attention-grabbing works easily dominate headlines, not many artists like Ong adopt the “plein air” format of painting. It requires a careful meditation of the present subject matter before the artist.
Ong has been a full-time artist since 1985, and till now, continues to paint and give workshops on a regular basis. To date, he is undeniably one of Singapore’s most lauded watercolourists whose paintings have been collected by Queen Elizabeth II of England, the Prime Minister of China, National Heritage Board and more.
Accolades aside, he placed Singapore on the world map by being the only Asian artist residing outside of US to be admitted to the American Watercolor Society.
He is a maestro of light and space. His paintings achieve a sense of depth by maintaining a high contrast that is translucent and clean, lending a sense of purity and honesty, but never compromising on detail or texture.
As Mr Ong puts it, “The ability to use colours effectively to reveal the emotional message of a painting contributes much to its success. I place importance on colours to achieve the clarity and transparency that I believe are only possible in this medium.”
This article is brought to you by A List Singapore
Featured image: Ming Wong