Monthly Archives: December 2009

Tactile at 8Q

touching hearts and minds of art educators

Tactile at 8Q

“Tactile brings together 13 works by young artists from five junior colleges, in a showcase that explores the fascinating notion of the tactile. The artworks in Tactile are about engaging the senses, through seeing, exploring and making. It is about getting excited over the play of light and reflection, the subtle textures of paper, fabric, rust, soot and other potential materials. The works centre  around the process of learning and understanding through art-making, the act that brings forth forms to ideas and concepts so that they can be communicated across time and space.” (exhibition text)

Far from being tacky, the exhibition Tactile brims with ideas that ruffle the sense of sight and touch. An exhibition that creams the best works from five junior colleges, these are tastefully arranged in 2 galleries, fitting a consistent curatorial decision that echo the characteristics of the works.The lower gallery 1.11 had works that dealt with weaving (narratives), fabric, staining, fashion and identity, while the upper gallery 2.11 responded to challenges of urbanesque and private spaces. Seen collectively, and holistically with the paraphernalia and events that accompany the exhibition, it sends a clear signal of the importance of an art education that engages meaningfully with materials. The element of craft, or ‘creating the object skillfully’ is important.

The maturity and level of sensitivity to the materials are remarkable. Angela Tan’s Red Desert would remind one of Rembrandt’s genre painting of a carcass of a cow, hanging. Like a carcass, this patchwork quilt-of-sorts is rich with textuality, and complexity of choice of coloured stitches. On careful inspection, what seem like reddish-brown silhouettes form faces and figures, staring out. What seemed like mindless threads, now seemed like desperate connectors between the scenes, eager to reconnect.  Zhao Wen Wen’s Transition hold similar awe, with thread weaved through slabs of concrete, forming an outline of shophouses and the trademark sloping roof, elongated louvred windows and five-foot-way. The cheery brightly coloured thread, in a spectrum resembling a rainbow do little to clear the air of ambiguity – these both symbolise the concrete foundation from which we built our future or the weight of heritage, a tombstone doomed to the past.

The exhibition is perhaps a chance to assess the role of the educator and the value of the visual arts, in a society driven by pragmatism often overshadowing the arts profession. 8Q, is slowly taking shape to honour it’s role, and building heritage as a test bed for fresh ideas, and young artists. What may be more revealing of the exhibition is the value that art has on the young artists and the young collaborators that toiled behind the scene, and perhaps the influence their powerful artworks will have on visitors. As this exhibition touches the hearts and minds of many, one should give explicit respect for the other educators that give, without holding back.

Exhibition micro-site:

8Q, Singapore Art Museum
Nov 13, 2009 – Jan 10, 2010

Exhibition catalogues available.

Artist’s Interview: Tan Wee Lit

Audio interview with artist, Tan Wee Lit was conducted at Post-Museum, Dec 2009.

Q1. Tell us about your work in this exhibition, These Things Must Be Done to Get Along in Life.

A: (1′ 14″, 1.2MB)

Q2. Why an edition of 110? Is the 5 year gap significant? Does the buyer know the variance in price of the item?

A: (2’48”, 2.7MB)

Q3: How do artists package themselves, to sell artworks?

A: (0′ 45″, 729KB)

Q4: Your work seems to deal with humour or satire. Can you describe the concept behind your work, with an illustration of another recent example?

A: (1′ 30″, 1.4MB)

Q5: Can you quote another of your work that deals with humour?

A: (4′ 45″, 4.7MB)

A: (1′ 41″, 1.6MB)

Q6: What happened to your CDL public sculpture commission?

A: (4′ 59″, 4.8MB)

Edition of 110

Edition of 110, 3”x 2” x 17”, Cast and painted polyvinyl plastic (2006)

An action figure of the artist himself is reproduced and sold as limited edition toys for US$59.90. It is a self mocking gesture about the artist’s own anonymity and at being mass-produced as a toy where only celebrities are. The original figure, sculpted by the artist himself, also questions the role of craft behind the work in contemporary art today, as well as making Art accessible and affordable for the public. It also makes a statement about collecting artworks based on the name (and reputation) of the artists and the question of edition-ed works. A different version would be sculpted and release every five years, marking the changes in the artist’s skills, physical appearances, where he is based, etc and subjected to price fluctuation.

The “Missed” series

The “Missed” series, 2 ½” x 1 ½” x 6-8” (figures), 10”x10”x48”, White porcelain, engraved white marble, wood (2008), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

People from the Wanted and Missing List in Chicago are sculpted out of fine white porcelain, and erected on individual marble slabs and plinths. The title is a pun on that these series of commemorations depicted these people possibly missed by their loved ones, and perhaps just only missed being spotted and identified by the man in the street.
Reconstructed from “dust” into which they seemingly seemed to have vanish, there is an insinuation of fading memories with them being sculpted in various degree of detail. The series of ghostly figures filled the gallery space with the poignancy and sterility of a mausoleum.  These people are also accorded the dignity and respect akin to past noblemen and dignitaries being commemorated for being hand-sculpted by the artist.

Erosion and Reclamation

Sculpture commissioned by CDL. Installation date to be confirmed in 2010.

Text and images courtesy of the artist, all rights reserved.

These Things Must Be Done to Get Along in Life

Essentially attitude.

These Things Must Be Done To Get Along in Life. Images courtesy of the curator

The exhibition features works by 3 artists, and an artist collective. Held in the alternative space, showroom of post-museum tucked away in Little India, the subject matter of the show is just as unusual as the location. The work by Sha Najak greets the viewer, is an assortment of found objects, easily mistaken for trash, placed on acrylic place mats. Accompanying these, are a series of photographs, presumably near where the objects were rescued (for now). These place mat act as miniature plinths, giving barely enough room for these found objects. The top down view is deliberate, reminisce of the instance they were spotted by the artist. Next, Tan Wee Lit’s action-figure like scaled casts of himself, neatly packed in a plastic bubble reminded me of the excitement of seeing toys hung on shelves. A projection by Kirsten Tan, blurry fizzles, suggesting a confrontation of sorts but filmed underwater. The last, a display of ziplocked objects of a mock-terror-artist, and a pin-up of a fictitious newspaper article about a bomb in the very same gallery.

With the works in mind, These Things Must Be Done to Get Along in Life perhaps suggest  the determination for survival, or making meaning of one’s existence – a martyr for one’s own art, drowning a metaphor for pressures in life, packaging one’s artistic profile, and glorifying litter as a means to explore one’s own values. It isn’t as subliminal as director Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine on a Spotless Mind (2004), but neither is it as easy to grasp as Forrest Gump (1994). The text and quotes didn’t get to me as trying to find the sub-vert-sion of the terror-artist.

Almost as instructional as 10 things to do in tokyo, 10 things to do before you die, the works would need to appreciated by those with some knowledge of the art world. If not go watch Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential (2006). In all seriousness,  the curator has been successful, tackling something tricky, as essential and intangible as an attitude.

These Things Must Be Done To Get Along in Life
Show Room, Post-Museum, 107+109 Rowell Road
curated by Magdalen Chua, featuring works by Kirsten Tan, Sha Najak, Tan Wee Lit and Vertical Submarine

9 – 23 December 2009

artist talks: Tan Wee Lit, Dec 11 at 8pm
Sha Najak & Project X, Dec 18 at 8pm.
email RSVP to thesethingsmustbedone(a)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Blade Runner, reprised

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Images with the Kind permission of the curator

Taking the title of the book by Philip K. Dick that became a cult movie directed by Ridlet Scott, Blade Runner (1982), the short spanned exhibition would be a great hit for fans and non-fans alike. Between folk art and graphic design with a theme, the works take on myriad interpretations, sporting influences from the book and film.  Nearest the window, a small legion of origami unicorns of various sizes, herd in convergence. In the other corner of the gallery, crafted delicately in fragile plasticine, a robot destroys a cyborg. The result, an awesome collective retaliation against cosplay subculture.

Substation Gallery
Nov 26 – Dec 1, 2009

Together Again: Wood Cut II

against the grain of woodcut

Together Again: Wood Cut II

This solo exhibition by Lucy Davis commissioned by The Substation consists of wood print collages, charcoal drawings and fragments of animation encircling memories of a tropical hardwood bed purchased in Singapore.The exhibition is a continuation of Davis’ exploration into the “secret lives” of timber objects in Southeast Asia and ongoing research into stories of, and relationships between, wood and trees in the region, where both are explored as material, metaphor, magic, ecological resource and historical agent…The exhibition also continues a homage to the form and content of the Singapore modern woodcut movement, recast in a context of ecological crisis and contemporary “cuttings of wood” – Exhibition text

The sequel to a successful exhibition, Lucy Davis follows up with fictionalising Alfred Wallace, and William Farquhar in a range of work on paper, romancing the provenance of a teak bed frame purchased from a shop along Serangoon Road. Creating myriad textures from the bed frame, these were collaged to form images with printed text and magazine-like cut-outs.  Compositions that worked better were those that had a pictorial emphasis and consistency in media where the text played a secondary, poetic role. Blending charcoal drawings in some, attaching sticks to suggest shadow puppets added much troubled complexity and textual to the work. For some, overtaken by fiction, this might detract from the environmental message distinct in Wood Cut I. For others, the work on paper is consistent with the animation, an experimental, spontaneous bricolage of compositions to a melodious, haunting sound track. The animation was perhaps the most successful work in the exhibition, combining the stop-motion-like technical processes, exacting a response of curiousity, consistent with the insistence of the artist to carbon date her furniture.  The works in the gallery hold visually well together, but the sense of continuity between the ‘frames’ may be lacking. The works thus should be seen independently, then insisting a storyboard linearity. Like  a printmaker that knows the difference between woodcut and wood engraving, some of the works in the exhibition might just cut against the grain too much, revealing hurried compositions and rough edges.

By The Migrant Ecologies Project (Lucy Davis)

Substation Gallery
Nov 5-22, 2009