Art that flows in the city
I think the most obvious connotation of the title of the exhibition is its reference of the Concourse (underground linkway) that joins the different buildings, as an important anatomy of the University – the artery, with the pun on the word ‘art’. This first exhibition, if it is any statement of the art to be featured there, promises well-placed, well-suited art for popular contemporary art consumption. The works, if I didn’t mis-read the foreword by Howard Hunter, President of the University, spearheads the Visual Arts Initiative, by offering art by artists from around the region. Mounted by curator Joanne Lee, the works are well-spaced, allowing breathing space for the works and the passers-by to stop and look without holding up traffic. This exhibition is split into 3 components to cater to almost everyone’s taste:
‘MURMUR’, at the Gallery, School of Economics & Social Sciences –
Featuring works by Anthony Poon, Chua Ek Kay, Pinaree Sanpitak, Jane Lee and Delia Prvacki, the selection explores the eloquence of repetition and rhythmic gestures, visual silence and material minimalism;
‘Testimonies’, at the Concourse, School of Economics & Social Sciences –
Featuring recent portraits in ink by Tang Dawu, photographic works by Francis Ng, and Dadang Christanto’s 2005 Testimonies of the Trees series, the section explores personal memory and subjectivity;
‘Looking In Looking Out’, at the Concourse, Li Ka Shing Library –
Featuring commissioned works by Heman Chong, Tan Kai Syng and Ana Prvacki, the works are site-specific interventions with architectural histories, pop psychology, and the trafficking of ideas.
(Above text from curator’s note)
As pointed out by a fellow artist, it is curious that the senior artists’ works are more skilfully crafted than the younger artists’. The former works could be seen as engaged with primal concepts of ‘menhood’, or spirituality. The latter works seem more complicated and deal with a certain commercial attitudes of urbanicity – the city and its “interventions of life and living, of noise, the rich textures of organic confusion and chaos” (extract from curator’s text). For some strange reason, I felt compelled to glance and ‘browse’ these works, like a lifestyle magazine. The older works show evidence of ‘hands-on’ in the final physical objects, while the younger artists seem to have favoured a mechanical means of (re)producing their art –photographs, Inkjet on PVC canvas, 2000 copies of offset print, vinyl stickers. This does give a unique textural juxtaposition and visual pleasure.
If the University is like a heart, what flows out could be the un-selfish public education that is desperately needed to complement the Singapore Art Museum. Perhaps if presented cautiously, and avoiding connotations of high art, these public art exhibitions will ease the sore memories of a public who remembers fondly of their green patch of grass and the Raffles Girls’ School gate; perhaps art will heal the ‘vericose vein’ perception of the fledging University beside the ERP gantry.
3 stars of 5
Artery was held in the Singapore Management University from 12 January – 31 March 2006.