Monthly Archives: January 2007

Eric Chan in Huayi 2007: Once Upon A Springtime

yeasty, dislocated papercuts

Eric Chan

Eric Chan’s recent installation at the Esplanade Concourse can best be described as largely sized papercut-look alikes, hanging hap-hazardly. the sizes are hardly varied, the lighting ill-considered, and a thin link to paper-cut as a traditional decoration, or at best over-sized wrongly coloured snow flake post-christmas decorations.

Of course, I didn’t read in between the lines of the synopsis or write-up, and the work’s conceptual link to ‘desire’.

The individual hanging pieces are hardly as interesting as those by American sculptor Alexander Calder. Calder’s works are interesting because his hanging mobiles move with the slightest breeze, and the sculpture changes form like the clouds on a sunny day. The ‘springtime’ work can barely shiver in the cool controlled air-conditioned concourse, remaining stagnant.

The individual pieces are very well made, probably from alloy, from the way they are hung. The pieces are too few, and a variety of sizes may have benefited the space in its multitude and illusion of depth. Light seem to be key to extend the shadows cast from the pieces onto the floor, and the ‘printed shadows’ on the platform of the staired councourse thus look hideously out of place.

Colour could be symbolic and crucial here. We should know the Chinese love red, and red here links the work to the red used profusely during Chinese Lunar New Year Celebrations. It is debatable if the work could look ‘lighter’ by coating them white, and allowing a flux of changing light – from white to red and back – playing with the audience perceptions of Winter’s transformation to Spring. Having it in shades of pink, and red just doesn’t quite cut it.

The long standing tradition of Chinese Paper-cuts prides precisely on it’s delicate medium – paper. Alloy here defuses the image of the individual craftsman, and summons the industrial processes of minimalist art. The work could have been potentially more interesting if more illustrative paper-cut-like storytelling were used, considering satire, some historical fable, anything. The work would then have more intellectual depth, beyond it’s current frivolity matching the decorations in the ‘exhibition cones’ outside the Esplanade shops. I’m comparing this work to Heri Dono’s Angel Garden installation, a piece in collaboration with Lina Adams and Jeremy Hiah in 2004 in the same location. Hiah, Adams and Dono’s Angel Garden was more colourful, engaging, allowing the audience to touch, feel and imagine. This in comparison is sterile, utterly dislocated in the daylight.

Nonetheless, I do givea small virtual pat on the back, for trying something different from the artist’s stable of animal chirpy paintings.

4 of 10 stars

Esplanade Concourse


2007 rating system

Exhibition rating system
1 – 2 stars

Exhibitions within this below average range puts this exhibition last on my list of things to do. E.g. Work, do administrative work, prepare for lessons, Paint, coffee, laundry, television, go for a stroll in a park and only if I have TOO much time, I will see this one-star rated art exhibition again.

3-4 stars

Exhibitions within this average range are worth seeing if you know the artist or happen to be in the area.

5-6 stars 

Exhibitions within this satisfactory range are worth seeing, especially if you follow the artists’ works. The exhibition is curated. E.g. it has an overall theme or concept behind the exhibition, rather than an eclectic mix of rojak works.

7-8 stars 

Exhibitions within this very good range are worth making the extra effort to visit. The exhibition is well curated, and well organised with consideration for supporting events. E.g. Dialogue sessions, art education support.

9 – 10 stars 

Exhibitions within this excellent range puts this exhibition as ‘make appointment with friends now’, ‘must see’, and would warrant a re-visit. The exhibition is excellently curated, the site is well thought through, and the show and supporting events are superbly well-organised; with friendly museum or gallery staff to answer queries.


Not all exhibitions are covered!

There are different types of exhibitions an artist in Singapore can take part in, (possibly in order of natural gutsy progression) ranging from graduation shows, singular installations within campus or public solo-window-display type exhibit; group shows, curated commercial (group or individual) shows, curated group shows, invited group shows such as Singapore Art Show, M1 Fringe or ‘equivalent scale art event’, Singapore Biennale, Venice Biennale, Documenta or other large-scale international Biennales. The scope of the review  covers only local public exhibitions, and not art you do in your studio unless it’s a public open studio.

Artists may not have all the control over how their works are seen and the rating may seem a bit unfair for artists. The ratings are meant for the exhibitions, and not to be taken personally.  The rating system at the end of the review is derived from a compulsion to place a numeric value, for the art audience who just wants a quick gauge to determine whether an exhibition is worth seeing. Over time, the discerning reader will understand the angles I take, and gauge for themselves the intrinsic values of visiting art exhibitions, and ignore the ratings.  Should my ratings be a bit overboard or rubbish to begin with, the reader should ignore it.

Review of Rating System

An evaluation of the review rating system is under way. It seems I may be too strict with the ratings, and discourage artists and readers alike. Kit, if you are reading this, this is for you! So please take year 2006’s reviews with a heap of salt.

If you are not sure what I am raving about a rating system for exhibitions, please see the first entry posted in February 2006.

Blink 30 has caused a harrowing year of chasing exhibitions. Blink 30 will most likely to continue in the new year, or so I think and wrote as a new year’s resolution.