Monthly Archives: March 2009

Come Out and Play by Joo Choon Lin

Bent on chocolate, monsters and anti-hero


(images courtesy of the Singapore Art Museum and kind permission of the curator and artist)

The recent work by Joo Choon Lin at 8Q, is more thought through and well considered in the use of space, scale and narrative, compared with the earlier work shown at FOST Gallery in October 2008. Considered as works in a series, it explores the fantasy anti-hero character battling a chocolate monster invasion, with a sleuth of copper-foiled creations and inventions, like the one see above (see image). Like her earlier work, the subconscious is let loose on a frenzy, the narrative developing spontaneously according to the site, and the situation. The result, an uncanny film, part fantasy and part naivete of logic, but filled with good sense and humour.

The works consist of a large wall projection, of a stop-motion animation made in situ at 8Q,  by drawing painstakingly on the walls of the staircase, on the glass walls and windows of the museum, as well as invented unique silkscreen prints on water. Creatures seen in the movie are placed nonchalantly, seeming to fill empty spaces strategically then more purposefully. They don’t really come alive, within the white cube, then a funfair setting could. Some might even think the white space as too sterile for one’s imagination to take off, a stark contrast to the animation. To add to the mild discomfort, the bench might seem ill positioned for the seated viewer to see the animation properly.  

The large vehicle in the middle of the room is more than meets the eye. On close inspection of the platform, prints or frames from a sketch book pour suggestions, like prequels to the animation, lighting the beginnings of the anti-hero. How I wish I can remember her name – choco girl? The guardian, the bronze copper choco-bear that appears briefly in the animation stand guard close by.

The materials used are unusual:brown enamel paint resembling melted chocolate, copper sheets and screen printed markings and patterns; it makes the bear so mechanical yet assimilated, very much like the replicant toys in Ridley Scott’s 1982 grim, futuristic Blade Runner film. It shifts the paradigm of the real away from logic and into fantasy, as much as tin man in The Wizard of Oz would. 

I can’t help chuckle a naive interpretation of the imagery and symbols: chocolate as money, choco-monster  as over-zealous bankers (especially the scene where they multiply), and choco-girl and her misfit team as the average jane and joe bailing out whole situation. 

Like one’s obsession with chocolate might lead one to cravings in the middle of the night, the title ‘come out and play’ makes choco-sense to leave one’s faculty of logic behind, and indulge in good child-like imagination, and ‘save the world’ for ourselves.

7.0 of 10 stars
(more pictures to come) 

8Q, Singapore Art Museum

*but NOT listed on the Singapore Art Museum website

Beyond the melodrama

Cultured like Kimchi with well selected artist

Many Singaporeans will probably be able to name at least one Korean Drama or singer that they know from watching television. But name one Korean artist?

Korean Art

The Singapore Art Museum, plies a well selected contemporary Korean art blockbuster (in conjunction with the Korean Festival in Singapore), in tandem with the successful mind/eye opening  Daimler Is It Tomorrow Yet?. These 40 works by 12 artists aptly addressing the transition from modernity to the contemporary issues in art, the exhibition was a visual feast of abstraction, illustrative to modular works, often addressing the materiality of the creations. The transcendence suggested by the title of the exhibition implies that of the ‘unique aesthetics and sensibilities of Korean art’, transcending traditional ink painting (into installation and new media). 4 works are discussed here, to illustrate the elusive ‘sensibility’. This sensibility might just have shaped what we find intriguing in melodramatic Korean TV series – the fate/history, weather/landscape, people and language that shapes a culture.

Park Seo Bo’s Ecriture No. 080728, has the similarity with Jackson Pollock’s or Wassily Kandinsky’s method of naming their works in series of numbers, bearing the minimalistic dabs of paint which Kasimir Malevich would have agreed with. Echoing the interests of Josef Albers in the Daimler collection, The work seems to find peace in the balance but asymmetric compositions; the exploration of colours here, seem to resonate under gallery lighting conditions. Do the colours in Seo Bo’s paintings bear semblance to the colours of the Korean flag, and its heritage to the lived dynasties? The simplicity of colours and composition, suggests the process – the meditation, emptying of the self required to produce the painting, and others.

Lee Lee Nam’s animated paintings, resemble computer screensavers, a  juxtaposition of  Impressionist’s best Impression (Sun Rise) by Monet, to impressionistic Korean traditional ink painting of a night scenery, littered with lights from the high-rise skyline. The wall text suggests that the work ‘subverts the traditional classic notions of high art and used technology to bridge high art with popular culture/imagery”.  Similar to Pop art, the work amuses when one can identify the solitary boat from Monet’s Sunrise painting, ‘moving’ from one screen to the other. Kitsch-ness or tackiness aside, the work does echo the forlorn hope for the Sublime in nature, gradually replaced by a new sublime, overwhelmed by skyscrapers and multitudes of technologies – how they work, why they work, we fail to comprehend. This is evident in the duo plasma screens, transition of the traditional ink snow scene ‘painting’, slowly morphing into a modern seaport night scene.

 Hong Kyoung Tack’s Pencil 2, a massive painting measuring 3.88x390cm records a hyper saturation of colours in an over-dosed composition of pencils, so much so they become a landscape seen from a distance. Interpreted as a critique of consumerism, or despair against blind obsessive consumption, the repetition of pencils resembles the repetitions needed to produce a singular traditional ink painting. One can imagine the same ’emptying of self’, placing total concentration on the choice of colours, brushstrokes, that the intent becomes less important than the process.

Suh Do Ho’s Floor (1997-2008),  possibly the most powerful work in the exhibition, consists of thousands of tiny PVC figurines holding up the floor is an impressive visual for a meaning of power – literally stepping of thousands. An earlier version installed at the Venice Biennale in 1999, allowed the viewer to step on these glass panels. Evoking the masses, and possible a national psyche of togetherness, ‘all for one and one for all’, the work might suggest a certain critique of socialist North Korea, or in the light of the global economic crisis, we are one of many supporting the invisible men who threads on others.  

I am reminded of the process of making Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables and varied seasoning including chili peppers. The subject matter engaged by Korean artists are perhaps the ‘uniqueness’ the curators wanted to illustrate. These subject matter, coupled well with the sensibility of the Sublime, suggested by many of the works. The sublime here refers to the sense of being overwhelmed by language/comprehension of culture, nature/landscape, and forces of economies/consumerism. This exhibition illustrates well, the fermentation of subject matters popular in art, by picking a palatable range of works from the past 50 years. 

7.0 of 10 stars

Transcendence: Modernity and Beyond in Korean Art
Singapore Art Museum
08 November 2008 to 15 March 2009 

This is Not a Print! at SAM

‘Original’ does not mean ‘Unique’

Tacky title aside, the print and multiples exhibition at 8Q deserves a second look. Featuring the Museum’s collection of works from the renowned Tyler workshop, it redefines print-making and questions the uniqueness, or ‘one-of-a-kind-ness’ of an artwork.   

More suitable for an audience that understands the basic processes of print-making –

Types of traditional print-making explained by Charlotte Jirousek, Cornell University, in Print Making Processes, accessed Mar 21, 2009, 

10 Jan – 26 Jul, 2009

Singapore Art Museum, 8Q

Singapore Tyler Print Institute –



Sat 4 Apr 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (closed 12.00 pm – 1.00 pm)
Free Demonstrations 10:00 am – 4 pm (closed 12 – 1 pm) 
Have a go at woodblock, silkscreen, lithography, etching, or papermaking at our annual Open House. Fun for all the family!

“Auspicious Stamps” a children’s workshop with artist Kelly Reedy (ages 7 – 12) 
Be inspired by early Japanese printmaking techniques and create your own Styrofoam stamps to be used on greeting cards or a scroll.