Nine Must-See Exhibitions During Singapore Art Week 2020
Sarah Choo Jing, Nowhere Near, installation view at ArtScience Museum. Image courtesy of the artist and Marina Bay Sands.
Ian Woo, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 2019, acrylic on linen, 160 x 155 x 3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and FOST Gallery.
Installation view of Memento Mori at STPI. Photograph by Toni Cuhadi. Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery.
[Left] Natee Utarit, The Brightness, 2019, oil on canvas, 80 x 50 cm. [Right] Nadiah Bamadhaj, Menopause Can Wait, 2019, charcoal on paper collage, 159 x 126 cm. Images courtesy of the artists and Richard Koh Fine Art.
Ronson Culibrina, The Humble Barber, 2020, oil on canvas and bamboo, 122 x 152 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Yavuz Gallery.
Ruben Pang, Mother of Nothing, 2019, oil, alkyd and synthetic varnish on aluminium composite panel, 149.80 x 199.90 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Chan + Hori Contemporary.
Stealing Public Space. Image courtesy of The Substation.
Strange Things at 2 Cavan Road. Image courtesy of TWENTY TWENTY.
Nicholas Mangan, Termite Economies (Phase 1), 2018, dimensions variable. Installation view of The Posthuman City. Climates. Habitats. Environments., 2019, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.
Too many invitations, too little time. We get it. So, we’ve done some of the homework for you. Here, in alphabetical order, is CoBo Social’s top nine picks for Singapore Art Week (11–19 January)—ranging from institutional shows to galleries and pop-up initiatives. Now you know where to find us next week!
Inspired by the work of Singaporean writer Alvin Pang, “2219: Futures Imagined” marks the Singapore Bicentennial by looking 200 years into the future. The immersive and experiential exhibition developed by ArtScience Museum features the works of over two dozen artists, architects, filmmakers, writers and theatre companies from Singapore and around the world. The exhibition unfolds over five Acts, which take visitors on a journey from 2019 to 2219, immersing visitors in future scenarios which show how life may be impacted by changes in the Earth’s environment, caused by climate change and the loss of the planet’s biodiversity.
Joy of a preverbal dispenser is an exhibition employing painting as a ‘mental’ device where forms modulate between crevices and haptic spaces. These forms resembling voids and translucent surfaces, pulsate throughout each work, resembling screens or structures in the midst of change and transference. Each painting evolves as cognitive time between examples of the pictorial and the object, revealing how a painting is constructed. This can be attested through the artist’s methodical system of negotiating between line and shape in search for cropped perspectives, revealing the instability of memory as an ‘incidental event’. The exhibition title alludes to the moment before description, suggesting the ambiguity and anxiety to the sensation of image making.
Celebrated for her performance art, print and papermaking are notable new mediums of expression and avenues of exploration within Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarmo’s practice. The show will present a series of works—drawn from 70 unique works and 30 editioned works created by the artist during her residency with STPI in 2018 and 2019—that centre around the theme of abandoned spaces and the forgotten memories they contain. It is rooted in the artist’s own experience – every house that she and her family has lived in, has either been demolished or repurposed. Suryodarmo also draws inspiration from some of the abandoned sites in Singapore, and the histories, identities and relationships once inhabiting them. This theme is explored through screenprints, collographs, charcoal rubbings, paper pulp paintings and paper casts.
To inaugurate its 10-year anniversary celebration in Singapore, Richard Koh Fine Art kicks off the year with two special solo presentations by Natee Utarit and Nadiah Bamadhaj.
Natee Utarit’s “Déjà Vu: Your Past is My Future” presents an expansion of his ideas and work processes from his exhibition at Fondazione Made in Cloister, Naples, Italy in October 2019. In this series, Utarit referenced Buddha’s spiritual journeys and relics that oscillated between factual and imaginative accounts of historical and archaeological information, presenting a new context for imagination is introduced through Guatama Buddha’s Dhamma preaching journeys, challenging an apparent Eastern and Western cultural division.
In “Dreaming Desire,”Nadiah Bamadhaj continues her investigation of the human body in art making and its capacity to reveal facets of identity such as gender and sexuality. As a conceptual device, the cloud motif is introduced in this series as a symbolic indicator of the anxieties and subconscious grappling with issues of sexuality and sensuality that the body is constantly subjected to in this day and age.
“Rainbow Spill” presents a new suite of works by Filipino artist Ronson Culibrina. The pieces feature the distinct iridescent depiction of waterside communities seen in his most recent works, this time inspired by the rainbow-like colour formations on water surfaces following an oil spill. In “Rainbow Spill,” he continues to portray similar scenes—a combination of fisherfolks, boats, aquatic flora, and the entire assortment of trash dumped in the waters. In this riot of juxtaposition and layering, the human figures seem to transform into monstrous creatures, mutating perhaps as a result of the harsh and toxic condition created by man’s harmful intervention with the natural environment. Appropriating an object from the fishing community’s material culture to suggest something symbolic, he lays nets to fill the voids in the compositions, implying the trap that humanity has succumbed to in its quest to pursue progress and development at the expense of nature.
Headlining Chan + Hori Contemporary’s 2020 programme, Singaporean artist Ruben Pang’s solo exhibition “Pre-Heaven” commemorates a decade of professional practice with new paintings and sculptures that draw inspiration from a variety of sources including folklore, paganism and Taoism—addressing sequences of Jungian archetypes, forgotten or imaginary deities, both coming into being and falling apart. Pre-Heaven reflects on the difficulty of expressing an inner vision and various opposing forces to exercise individual will. The title alludes to the sweet spot before each oscillation of alleviation and dissatisfaction of each encounter with oneself.
Stealing Public Space explores the connection between Southeast Asian art languages, the city, and intangible or symbolic public “sites” such as money, national anthems, history, and maps. This expansive exhibition comprises 25 artists and 32 historical and newly-commissioned works by established and emerging artists from across the region. Several works invite audience participation, exemplifying expressive strategies that distinguish Southeast Asian contemporary art on the global scene.
A former ship repairs factory turned pop-up art space led by Singapore Arts Club, TWENTY TWENTY, will be launching its six-month long programming with the exhibition “Strange Things.” Curated by Louis Ho, “Strange Things” is a show populated by unfamiliar entities and alien objects. Interventions, disruptions, interpositions, negotiations—the works included in the present exhibition represent a range of responses to the material and visual milieu of the derelict structures of the 2 Cavan Road complex. Dating from the early 1930s, the now disused factory space represents an eclipsed historical presence in the layers of the palimpsest that is Singapore’s urban fabric. The objects and bodies of Strange Things, like transplanted beings in an otherworldly landscape, are playful, meditative, exotic, phantasmagorical.
Taking NTU CCA Singapore’s overarching research topic Climates. Habitats. Environments. as point of departure, the exhibition “The Posthuman City” considers the possibilities of a conscious sharing of resources, and a respectful and mindful coexistence between humans and other species. Through imaginative propositions at the intersection of art, design, and architecture, the selected artists engage questions addressing issues of sustainability, water scarcity, invisible communities, nature as a form of culture, and suggest the implementation of lived indigenous knowledges. Examining the urban fabric in its condition as a habitat for a diversity of life forms, the featured works range from installations to time-based media.