Living Stories by S. Chandrasekaran

myth making: composites of Singapore’s iconography and personal folk narratives

Living Stories by S. Chandrasekaran

Those who follow S. Chandrasekaran’s work would find familiar motifs– “creation”, “preservation” and “destruction”–from Trimurti (1988) and Trimurti and Ten Years After (1998). Trimurti refers to “divinity expressed by integrating Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva” (Sabapathy, 1998, p. 24). In Living Stories, the artist has applied creation, preservation and destruction to popular, folk iconography, combining and integrating the kitsch and banal to form semi-abstract, yet figurative paintings. The lion, man, merlion, Marina Bay Sands, blue lightning emblem and hammer are brought together to create new creatures and beings that inhabit an imaginary landscape and city-scape, or dream-scape. Largely personal, they form the artist’s re-interpretation of his own identity through an amalgamation of narratives that he has come across since his return from his doctorate studies. How much has Singaporean’s spirituality/soul changed in the span of 10 years from the perspective of a visual artist? Have we spawned (metaphorical) abominations that are blind to us all?

Those who are new to his work, may think little and find humour in his child-like hieroglyphical scribbles and doodles on large canvases. The raw energy and spontaneity can easily be mistaken for carelessness and misappropriated Egyptian motifs. In sum, we may compare Chandra’s paintings and bronze sculptures  to classical Indian temple carvings or sculptures that have its own unique language for representing the spiritual; yet the merit of Chandra’s work is challenging us to define our own identities and find our own spirituality, even in the secular sense, in this mad, mad city.

6.0 of 10 Stars

3-23 August 2012, The Substation Gallery


Sabapathy, T.K. (Ed.). (1998). Trimurti and Ten Years After. Singapore Art Museum.

For a sense of Chandra’s interest in the ‘cyborg’, which may affect how you see his work in this exhibition, visit:

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