Singapore Art Feast #3 (Japanese Art Galleries)

Ai Yamaguchi, Mizuma Gallery

It’s been a few weeks since I went on such a full day of gallery hopping, but today has been so full of new things that I’m quickly jotting these thoughts down on my way home on the bus. I set out to see all sorts of visual inspirations, from Andrew Herdon’s butterflies aflame at Ikkan Art, to deflated elephants and shards of ancient ceramics at the NUS museum. Below I have posted some images and thoughts from today’s adventure.

A visit to avant-garde art hub Artspace@Helutrans took us into Ikkan Art, whose current gallery show showcases a group of artists from around the world. I was mesmerised by a curtain of strung micro chips with led lights in their reverse – as they hung an inch or so from the wall and softly illuminated the patches where current ran through. The result was a blurred moving outline, aglow on the wall. Curator Andrew Herdon told me this artwork by Jim Campbell is a film of a family playing outside, and demonstrated how a further layer of abstraction – viewing the artwork’s reflection in the gallery’s glass window – actually made the film clearer to see. Innovative, unusual and intriguing.

Jim Campbell, Home Movie: metal, wire, LEDs

Jim Campbell, Home Movie: metal, wire, LEDs

Feeling slightly like a moth attracted to the gentle lights of Campell’s work, it was an interesting contrast to see photographic prints of origami butterflies taking flight as they were scorched by flames, at the other end of the gallery. Another interesting artwork here was by Team-Lab – an Ultra-technologists group made up of specialists in the information society:

At Galerie Steph we saw ‘POV – Alternative perspectives in Asian Contemporary Photography‘, showcasing some challenges to traditional photography techniques and presentations, thought provokingly curated by Lisa Botos.

POV - Alternative Perspe3ctives in Asian Contemporary Photography, Galerie Steph
Ina Jang at POV - Alternative Perspe3ctives in Asian Contemporary Photography, Galerie Steph 
Ina Jang at POV - Alternative Perspe3ctives in Asian Contemporary Photography, Galerie Steph
Ina Jang at POV – Alternative Perspectives in Asian Contemporary Photography, Galerie Steph

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Also at Galerie Steph in the gallery’s current group show, The Best of Times, we spotted the Shen Liang painting that has been the lead image of the show. It really needs to be seen in the flesh to be understood. Please note – you only have until 2nd March 2013 to see this work at Galerie Steph, in which the artist makes paint marble like the art of paper quilling. Below I hope to show you some of the detail as you approach the painted surface.

Shen Liang at Gallerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans
Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph

Shen Liang at Gallerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Gallerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Shen Liang at Galerie Steph, Keppel Road Helu Trans

Tokyo street also curated by Ikkan Gallery features Japanese Street Art in another space at HeluTrans. One of my fellow writers  Karen Mitchell, over at Artitute, reviewed this here.

 

We also checked out Hello Shibuya Tokyo at Plaza Singapora, a designers boutique /  culture / fashion show mingled with artwork, that has popped up in the middle of a mall (until March 10th).

Today was also my first trip to the NUS (National University of Singapore) Museum, where we dropped into the Japan Foundation sponsored show, Omnilogue: Your Voice is Mine. While I was there it was fantastic to also view some of the museum’s permanent collection, bumping into Singapore artist Jason Lim who was taking some of his students to view the archives of traditional ceramics and ancient fragments. One of the current museum shows, ‘Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya’, was a particularly interesting trove of curiosities and intriguing objects, including an elephant hide – displayed in a heap as if the elephant had simply disappeared, leaving its skin behind – and a host of taxidermic birds, beasts, butterflies and fish. IMG_2851

Fuyuki Yamakawa, Japan Foundation, NUS museum

Fuyuki Yamakawa, Japan Foundation, NUS museum

Back to our main mission at NUS – the Omnilogue. The show was quite varied in style and appeal, but with several interesting artists, and one particularly stand out piece by Fuyuki Yamakawa. The Japanese voice artist has created a darkened space fitted with old-style mikes and speakers, and he plays three soundtracks into the space, overlapping and mingling. Two voices talk – his own account of his grandmother, and the voices of other people telling their own stories, as well as a thrumming background soundscape. The background noise alters this dark, sombre, remembrance space into a room alive with noise. Guests need to remove shoes to enter, and rumbling vibrations of traffic and hubbub – via the live feed from the centre of Singapore – really get into your bones. It had a strong effect, although I can’t pinpoint what the exhibition conveyed to me exactly, with it’s deliberately mixed signals. Perhaps the sound was the rush of noise you hear when returning to  consciousness after a blackout, perhaps it was the scary, ever marching roar of life as it continues regardless of the past or those we have left behind. This installation was a strange but moving mixture – a nostalgic vision into a personal past from inside this black felt padded room, and at the same time a very alive connection to reality. Most excitingly, by each speaker, there is a card to pick up in case you want to divulge your own story and become part of the artwork The clever participative concept of the piece becomes clear:

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Fuyuki Yamakawa, Japan Foundation, NUS museum

Fuyuki Yamakawa, Japan Foundation, NUS museum

Fuyuki Yamakawa, Japan Foundation, NUS museum

Clearly this week’s unofficial theme has been Japanese art galleries, so we had to make our last stop Mizuma Gallery at Gillman Barracks. Mizuma‘s new show opened tonight, and Mr Mizuma was there to welcome us. Highlights of this show were Zheng Jang and Ai Yamaguchi, as well as my sneak preview into the back room where Mr Mizuma very kindly introduced me to artwork by Aida Makoto, a key artist from Japan whose distinctive style featuring bizarre contrasts and scathing critique has earned him a sizeable following among people of all ages.

Ai Yamaguchi, Mizuma Gallery

Ai Yamaguchi, Mizuma Gallery

Ai Yamaguchi

This Japanese artist depicts alter egos in the shape of young girls, and during her whole career as an artist has been striving to ‘paint beautiful things’ – the artist’s ultimate wish. Through her work, we feel a sense of curiosity, a childlike wish and a sense of naive amazement. Due to viewing the same picture from many angles, her work has also made a study of ‘flatness’, regarded as a particular characteristic feature of traditional Japanese art, with trends in Japanese subculture. I noticed a pleasing continuity between the tessellating shapes, where the blue stream in each image flowed directly into the painting on the next panel. I also noticed a key green eye peering out at me from all her works, like the artist’s signature icon in the show. The captivating painting below by Zheng Jiang from Beijing is also made of multiples. Each individual shape looking like a traditional pattern or tile, all full of detail, but all adding up to make a whole. A reclining figure emerges when you take a step back. The artist’s work is a creation in pursuit of spiritual comfort, Mizuma Gallery tells me. Troubled by insomnia, Zheng slowly focused on inner needs instead of surrounding objects. The repeated ‘begonia’ pattern is Zheng’s working way of measuring time every day while keeping him calm when facing society.

Zheng Jang, Mizuma Gallery

Zheng Jang, Mizuma Gallery

Zheng Jang

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Rieko Sakurai

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Mr Mizuma with work by Rieko Sakurai

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Ai Yamaguchi

2 Comments

  1. Hi Nicola,
    Yes, it was a fantastic gallery hop. A big ありがとうto Andrew Herdon and Mr. Mizuma. If anyone wants to see more and learn about the great contemporary and emerging artists that are featured at Mizuma Gallery they should check out their main website in Japanese/English. http://mizuma-art.co.jp/top_e.php

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