Celebrating SG50: What Defines Us As Singaporeans?

It is an oft-heard refrain (Think “Who are you my country?”) and a question that has to be answered more critically now than ever, as we, together as one nation, celebrate our golden jubilee: Who are we? What makes us Singaporeans?

It is a tough question with no easy answers, but American pop artist Charles Fazzino has gamely took on this challenge with his latest 3D artwork exhibition held at Bruno Gallery in Tanglin Place, entitled “The Colours of Singapore: A 3-Dimensional (3D) Artwork”.

Most famous for his 3D renderings of cities such as New York, London and Paris, Charles has turned his eye to our sunny island with his specially created artwork entitled “Celebrating the Enchanted Island of Singapore”, as part of his tribute to the nation’s 50th birthday.

The 60-year-old artist is well known for creating 3D limited edition fine art using a unique hand assembled 3D layering technique. He also uses vibrant colours and intricate details which bring out the energy in his work and make them seem to almost come alive to jump out at you.

While this is Charles’s very first time coming to Singapore, he has not let this stop him in his quest to find out what is it exactly that defines us as Singaporeans. Said Charles:

“I did a lot of research on the subject. Today, it makes it so much easier when you have to draw something. I can download videos, (go on) the Internet, there’s so much now that makes it easy that I don’t have to make a visit.”

Charles also described his relationship with Bruno Gallery as “instrumental” in helping him complete his art. He said that they were the ones who “provided him with books”, and things that he could not get on the Internet, such as the “personal things”.

Charles was brought in to work on this project by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bruno Art Group, Motti Abramovitz in 2012, where they had met in New York. Said Motti:

“We (the customers and Gallery staff) not only tried to give him the images of the buildings, but (also) the stories behind it. The stories about life here.”

He also described the process of how he and his staff went about this monumental task of finding out what makes us Singaporean. According to Motti, the staff and him used questionnaires as part of their strategy to gather feedback from their clients on what they feel makes us Singaporean.

The entire process took about six months, and the final product featured more than 80 iconic symbols and landmarks which Charles felt most defined us as Singaporeans. This included the Merlion, Changi Airport, Singapore Flyer, and even a special signboard which read “No Gum Chewing”.


Even though there are already so many things inside the canvas, Charles still felt that there were more that he could have put in:

“If I was to do Singapore today, because I’m now more familiar after touring around for a few days, and (will be touring around) on Friday for the whole day, I’ll probably involve more things.”

He then went on to describe how he would add in things like the food, the culture and details about the hotels that he did not include because he was not here to see it.

During our interview, Motti even shared with us how some people, in typical Singaporean fashion, had complained that the canvas had missed out on certain places. Said Motti:

“Based on what we received (in the questionnaire put to the Gallery customers)… we tried to reflect the most that we can.”

Even so, response to the art work has been encouraging. When this reporter went down to the opening reception of the art exhibition last night, 35 out of the 100 art works had already been sold. Besides the original canvas art piece, Charles also created two limited editions of 50 decoupages, which portrayed Singapore in both the day (with rainbows and clouds), and at night (with fireworks).

On what he would like his visitors to take away after viewing his art pieces, Charles described how he felt that Singapore, was a very small place, “not unlike New York city”, and he “wanted people to get that feeling”. He described how he had included a lot of nature around the borders of the island, and that it was a deliberate effort, as he wanted people to “look through nature, and see the city in its condensed form”.

More importantly, he shared with us how he had specially put in more glitter and “stones” (real Swarovski crystals) in each one of the editions than he had in the other cities, as in his heart, he feels that Singapore is “an enchanted place”, and he wanted that to come across to his viewers.

22 year old university undergraduate Nigel Ng, who was at the exhibition, was amazed by the art pieces, and praised Charles for what he felt was a marvelous attempt to put all of Singapore onto one canvas. Said Nigel:

“I think he did a really good job. It’s really different, and I love how detailed the art is.”

The public can view all these and more at Bruno Gallery in Tanglin Place from May 27 to June 14 for free. Each of these decoupages of both day and night versions can be purchased for SGD 8,800, while the original can be bought for SGD 88,000.


Photo Credit: Bruno Gallery Singapore

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