SINGAPORE — It would seem that birds and forests are unofficial themes at this year’s Singapore Art Week. We’ve mentioned before the avian-related interactive installation Railtrack Songmaps at Gillman Barracks, courtesy of Lucy Davis’ Migrant Ecologies Project for the parallel M1 Singapore Fringe Festival (which had also staged the play The Shape Of A Bird last week). And at nearby FOST Gallery is Donna Ong’s solo show My Forest Has No Name.
MORE BIRDS, FROM 2D TO 3D
Well, Jane Lee’s own solo show at Singapore Tyler Print Institute also has its winged creatures and trees. The Singaporean artist, who is known for playing around with the material aspects of paint in her sumptuously tactile paintings, has taken to paper with ease in the wonderfully assembled Freely, Freely.
You’ve got paper nests, paper wings, stacked paper built up into a green forest, and well-crafted works comprising coiled paper that evoke wood shavings and tree rings (slightly reminding us of the textures and patterns in works by Lee Jae-hyo and Suh Do-ho).
From the possibilities of paint to the possibilities of paper, Lee also goes representational and not just with wings and nests — paper peephole boxes contain images of birds and birds are also projected unto coiled plastic sheets. There’s a good balance here between rough and polished works, emphasizing both a whimsicality and a meticulous approach to craft-and-art-making. Definitely one of the must-see shows during Art Week.
Somewhat nearby is a group show that echoes Lee’s constant play with our perceptions of two-dimensional and three-dimensional mediums.
Beyond The Surface by Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD), which is up at Galeri Utama at The Foothills@Fort Canning, present 3D artworks created in response or reaction to 2D pieces.
Two portraits by Rofi, for instance, are re-created as one two-sided painting, with layered elements to create depth. Dzaki Safaruan’s papercut sculptures comprise layer-upon-layer of different anime drawings, while embroidery and weaving are at the core of Izziyana Suhami’s practice, here still seen attached to its wooden hoop. Kamal Dollah and Fajrina Razak take to batik, Nur Iman taps graffiti, and Nhawfal Jumaat uses masking tape to both create flat drawings and a huge ball.
NEW VOICES AT POP-UP SHOW
And speaking of huge balls, you’ll find one at a pop-up group show at one of Gillman Barracks’ carparks: Artist PG Lee is showcasing a huge one made of paraffin wax and sand. A response to the death of his father, Lee had begun with a small ball that has slowly grown as he adds layers of the material, a kind of process-based Sisyphean project that comments on the accumulation of personal burden through time and — as it continues to grow — space.
The work is to be found in one of the many shipping containers that comprise SCOUT, a group show of 20-plus emerging artists, organised by curators Joanna Lee and Patricia Chen.
Paired up according to themes and individual art practices, it’s an interesting snapshot of the scene, bringing together relatively current works (many of which have been previously seen, such as Lee’s) by new and not-so-new names.
Among the ones familiar to me are Antz and Zero from the urban art collective RSCLS, while Alecia Neo and Jacqueline Sim share a space to present their respective projects on the sight-impaired and Pulau Ubin, respectively. Like the latter pair, communities and changing environments are in the spotlight too in Wilfred Lim and Jying Tan’s room, by way of photographs of abandoned houses and Frankenstein-ish marine life, and a garden installation, respectively.
Meanwhile, politics and history are the preoccupations of other artists. The former courtesy of Ezekiel Wong Kel Win’s humourous men-in-white videos and drawings and Timothy Ng’s huge newspaper installation (a comment on media and censorship, and a relic of a previous 24-hour performance); the latter by way of Fyerool Darma’s blacked-out paintings of colonial figures and Kin Chui’s video installation reconstructing archival images.
Elsewhere, you’ve got artists examining technology (Terry Wee’s “drawings” consciously encumbered by a Microsoft Excel programme and Asanul Nazryn translating the sound of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong uttering “My fellow Singaporeans” into a sculpture of sound waves by way of 3D printing). The latter is as intricate as the works of Pang (who was once part of Pang + Kanako), who creates sponge-like pieces from electrical tape, and his shipping container partner Ashley Yeo, with her beautiful, delicate papercut works. Meanwhile, whimsical portraits of children and women are offered by Allison M Low and Mrydette, respectively.
It’s a pretty wide survey (book art even gets its own container with THEBOOKSHOW presenting their wares) and even hardcore followers of the visual art scene here are bound to make some pleasant discoveries.
For yours truly, that would be a couple of paired young artists. Yap Soke Kee and Gillian Chen both play around with materials — the former with gel wax (including a piece outside that, by now, is one mass of goo on a plinth) and the latter with wall paint flakes that she re-uses for her own paintings.
Perhaps the most interesting juxtaposition is that between Megan Miao and Aqilah Hassan. While the latter presents a video of a conversation between her and her mother about wanting to be an artist, the former has an interactive piece that mimics the porn format of a “casting couch” interview about presumably wanting to be a porn star, while touching on her Singaporean identity.
There’s certainly a lot going on in the next couple of days, but SCOUT should be on your must-visit list as a good counterpoint to the sleeker gallery shows around it in Gillman Barracks and also to the established artists you’ll see a lot of at Art Stage.
Freely, Freely runs until Feb 20 at Singapore Tyler Print Institute. Beyond The Surface runs until Jan 24 at Galeri Utama@The Foothills. SCOUT also runs until Jan 24 at Gillman Barracks, Carpark B at Lock Road. Free admission for all. For more info Art Week shows, visit http://www.artweek.sg/