This week has been jam packed with inspiring artists, galleries and creative people – a true feast of art.
I took a trip round some exhibitions with art advisory and all round art-savvy individual, Jane Shishido, of Worlds Apart Contemporary Art Fair – an exciting new platform for a dynamically intimate art experience. This international art fair arrives in Singapore in January, and embraces artworks from diverse cultures – bringing the Asian ‘hotel art fair’ phenomenon to Singapore for the first time. It’s a concept which I have not experienced in the west, but has had much success all over Asia. Visitors can discover art in an unconventional way, giving them a fresh perspective and a new way of viewing in a hotel room setting. I am intrigued to see how the artists and galleries use this chance to get creative with the curation of the space, and I secretly hope that there will be art popping out unexpectedly from all the usually ‘conventional’ spaces at the Conrad Centennial.
Jane and I took a tour off a whole host of galleries, discussing, dissecting and exploring the Singapore art scene as we went – both the local and the newly arrived international galleries. Some highlights and talking points below.
Artesan Gallery‘s new show, Shooting Stars, looks at the whirlwind of contemporary art that has landed in Asia. It shows some tongue-in-cheek pieces, some exaggerated tales, and some bold works which examine galleries as jugglers, and artists as magicians in the “circus that has indeed begun…as art players hop onto the carousel and twirl at dizzying speeds…Finally they are admired and revered and treated with due respect and awe.” Shooting Stars features Filipino artists Victor Balanon, EJ Cabangon, Antipas Delotavo, Jr., Guerrero Habulan, Dave Lock, Miel, Cris Villanueva.
Below is a very playful, dark, thought provoking piece by Jr., Guerrero Habulan, called Parental Guidance. The more we looked the more we saw in this pastiche of kids cartoons, video games, Drug taking Alices, knives and guns.
We admired the painting below, also by Jr., Guerrero Habulan. The artist was influenced by hanging around in Singapore’s Chinatown. He observed old Chinese men who he found happy and content, but essentially waiting to die. The piece is a haunting mix of festival and macabre. Again the artist has mixed styles of painting including realism, pop-art, and a flat overlay of a computer-game-like graphic.
Another piece at Artesan gallery, ‘Tweets’, is a skilful painting by EJ Cabangon:
We also visited work by Ronald Ventura at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, another project initiated by Artesan Gallery.
“We are constantly reminded of it. In the newspapers, on TV and the internet. The world is collapsing around our ears, sings Michael Stipe of REM in Out of Time. The signs are all there: global warming, terrible floods, strange weather and diminishing resources. Some species following the way of dodo and becoming zoological footnotes. The only thing missing would be signs in yellow ochre and black declaring the end of the world is nigh. Unless. We. Do. Something. About. It.” – Ronald Ventura
We next ventured into a Russian gallery, brand new to Singaporean soil. Moscow contemporary art space 11.12 aims to bring Russian artists to the Asian art hub’s collectors, while representing Southeast Asian artists in Moscow. I was unsure what to expect – being quite unfamiliar with Russian art – but felt that the gallery had a very unique character and body of work.
It was very pleasant to meet enthusiastic gallery owner Alexander Sharov, who really gave us some great insight into the artists processes and motivations.
“The most apparent and paradoxically ignored lacunas in modern Russian art are connected to Realism, the context of which has been historically captured by the Soviet tradition of attributing some grand style to every figurative painting. Realist painting in Russia is perceived as either a mode of visual power (new or old, critiquing social Realism, values of market and consumption, yet still speaking the language of the masses) or as an archival reproduction. Russian cultural reception of Realism has been formed by a historic trauma; the figurative painting phenomena and issues that happen to fall into the cultural reception’s blind spot are ruled out as irrelevant. Finely synchronized with Moscow Conceptualism, the world’s art logic as it pertains to the figurative expression in Russia happens to be not lost but rather frostbitten by historic circumstances. Yet the rivers flow even under the ice. Alexei Alpatov, Max Bashev, Alexander Zhernokluev, Vladimir Semensky, Semen Agroskin and other artists of the 11.12 gallery profess the kind of Realism that poorly fits into Russia’s receptive cliche and is better known to the Western spectator. Their art is charged with a desire to dissociate themselves from the demoralizing heritage of conceptualism and from corruption of ideology in any form. This art continues to embark on a path set by the avant-garde anarchists, the path designed to compensate for the lack of reality and establish painting as an art in which the body thoughts.”
A piece from 11.12′s catalogue that really caught our eye is by Rinat Voligamsi (look closely):
En route, we took in the two shows currently at Lasalle - Milenko Prvacki: A Survey, 1979 – 2012, including distinct bodies of work from one of the most important painters today, and Kei Takemura, showing a range of objects the artist has recovered and renovated, or made or elaborated upon.
We popped in just before their big opening, and were lucky enough to talk with Chan Hampe’s Samantha, and meet charming curator Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani. They have put together a very rich show informed by universally shared ‘social issues’ expressed in the form of social dislocation, identity and search for the self.
‘Hold Me Tight‘ is a compelling body of work by young Thai-Japanese artist Yuree Kensaku. The surreal, pop-art-esque, vivid and imagery-heavy works were full of references to childhood, memories and the absurd. The show certainly deserves time to be absorbed, pieced together and understood. It’s an exhibition we will be returning to, in order to spend longer pondering the collaged canvases and their intriguing textures and forms.
- Russian Art Week in London: Celebrating creativity (rbth.ru)
- Moscow’s 11.12 Gallery Plans Singapore Branch (galleristny.com)
- Hermitage instils shock of the new with contemporary art wing (guardian.co.uk)
- Art from Russia – Saatchi Gallery (ultravie.co.uk)