Monthly Archives: June 2007

Angel Mask by Wing Shya

masked violence

I completely didn’t know this was a separate work from Azhanti High Lightning. The two are completely unrelated, but share the same publicity poster.

So this was what I wrote in the guest book:

The works are intriguing, poignant and suitably lit. Your own obsession of violence has become art! Has that violence been influenced by Wushu (Chinese Martial Art)? Or Kill Bill cinematic acts of screen violence?

The works seem to be an experiment of violence as aesthetics, pushing blood and gore.

I can imagine your next work will focus on purer violence, or a kind of performance art. I once heard a story of a Kazakhstan artist slicing the throat of a lamb in front of a live audience in an art gallery, much like the ritual sacrifice of the lamb, but heralding as art.

The snapshot aesthetics of the photographs are beautifully arranged, resembling stills extracted from films dealing with memory and loss, and hence the segmentation and fragmentation, seen in the image of the thin, frail looking nude woman, the passing airplanes, a car crashing into a wall and the sword wielding ‘butcher’. The responsibility of constructing a narrative is thus passed over to the viewer.

But there is something in that violence, a longing for catharsis, that is incredibly penetrating, dangerously close to ‘religious fervour’ and thus possibly alluring. The snap shots, masked this. A singular ‘moment’ will perhaps expose this in more specific and interesting ways.

3.0 of 10 stars 

NAFA Gallery (nearer to The Coffee Connoisseur)

2 June – 5 July 2007

“Azhanti High Lightning: rudiments of life and death” by Simon Birch

lighting life and death through screen gangster culture

The reading I have of the exhibition seems to contradict that of the curator. Well, I am entitled to an opinion.

The intended installation is suppose to use the analogy of a space ship hurling through space and time to depict a ‘visionary environment of chance, change and consequences’. I felt that the works were more a celebration of movie violence. It looked like a hybrid of Hong Kong Election (directed by Johnnie To, starring Simon Yam), Battlestar Galactica, a dash of Yakuza aesthetics, and abstract scenes of movie clips and news flashes.

The works span Gallery 1 and 2, sub-dividing the space into 7 linked ante rooms, each a segment of a ‘journey’ for the viewer. The lighting is atmospheric, engulfing the multi-modal works – comprising a large Galactacus (X men comics fame) statue, paintings of tattoo -clad personas, transformer-styled robot heads, videos, objects resembling medal honours. A stallion painting lie on the extreme end, with a Japanese sword perched on a raised padestal.

The theatrics, a little stretched, are nonetheless very interesting, and monumental for the space of NAFA Gallery. It aims to fuse popular (screen) culture, a bombardment of media (movie excerpts and news flashes), and high art paintings, not too far off from the league of Samurai sword wielding angst teems who would want to watch Transformers ( theatre release on June 29 in Singapore).

6.0 of 10 Stars

exhibition curated by Bridget Tracy Tan

NAFA Gallery 1 & 2

2 June – 5 July 2007, not open on Sunday

For doses of a stronger narrative of domestic violence, martial arts and dysfunctional family, watch Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors (1994), from New Zealand. It would be more brutal and compelling than Azhanti High Lightning.

“As Brutal As” by Genevieve Chua

Psychosis and nymphs

As Brutal As by Genevieve Chua

In this solo exhibition, local artist Genevieve Chua explores themes of psychological horror and sexuality through pencil drawings on paper. Her evocative interpretations of light, texture and details invoke viewers to rethink their perceptions and conjure new experiences.

(extracted from online blurp from farm.sg)

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Drawings have that magical dimension. Because of it’s commoner position, it is both sympathetic, and privileged. On one hand, they are direct descendants of wild, ubiquitous doodles; on the other, they are meticulous records of mark making processes of the genius artist, a testament of draughtsmanship or expressive demeanour of a creative individual – master of mind, eye and hand coordination.

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In the hands of Genevieve Chua, the pencil too, gives life to a drawing. The suggestion of a precarious world, fallen trees and ruptured tree roots; violence and possibly debauchery, two deep hidden ends of the human mind.The title of the exhibition, As Brutal As, no doubt leaves the viewer pondering, filling in the violence or serenity with one’s unique imagination. What got me thinking was whether the works were ‘as brutal as Goya’s disaster of war series’ or ‘as brutal as Tinkerbell gone mad after Peter Pan left her’. The space is well organised, with works spanning the wall and placed on plinths in the middle of the gallery and book shop. It perhaps hints at the psychosis or femininity, or the relationship of the former and latter before Freud thought otherwise.

On the surface, the works are daring, a release from the flight of fantasy bearing some similarities to Goya’s serious doodles or Max Ernst’s Surrealist concoction of bird-headed man. The works are mostly skillfully handled, with attention to tonal values, composition, contrapposto and proportion of the half hidden nymph-like nude that recurs in most of the drawings – decapitated, in pain, in provocative positions and so on. What really came on as unique, were the circular paper drawings, that seem to cast shadows, giving the work another dimension. It made the paper look less fragile, and the drawing more masculine.

Beneath the surface, the works may require psychoanalysis to unearth the artist’s reason for creation. “Mysterious, frightening and erotic” are some of the terms the artist used to describe the intimacy of ‘black’ graphite used. The potential for a larger scale, to really break boundaries of ‘manageable-sized drawings’ remain to be seen. The pull of the works are perhaps the manipulation of graphite on paper, the realism of form and textured matter and the white or black gaps that allow our own imaginations to fill. That daring ambiguity is perhaps the magical dimension that we need to see in more art today.
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6.0 of 10 stars

La Liberia, 64A Queen St, enter from Bugis Village, next to the CD stall and fruits stall. above Japan Home sundry shop. Tues to Sun, 11 – 7pm. T: 63371346.

limited edition catalogue (50 copies) available at $10.

Further Links:

Asian Drawing portal, lifted from farm.sg website: http://www.startdrawing.org/home/

The artist’s website: http://www.genchua.com