Category Archives: Exhibitions

The Art Update: st-ART-ving

This Saturday, 6th August 2016, will be the day of the Starving Artist Fair! Where all the starving artist of the land will congregate in one place – *SCAPEmedia Hub. (“the land” meaning Singapore, for those of you have not caught on yet.) This fair features many artists, craftsmen and artisans from all over Singapore, each having a small booth to both share, sell and inspire others with their many works.

Although there will be countless skilled artists and craftsmen there, I want draw your attention to one of them in particular – Cherie Sim, a.k.a Suiyobi Noyoubi a.k.a theheartshapedhorror. I have known her from secondary/middle school and as long as I have known her, she has always made time to draw. After all this time, she has raked up a huge portfolio of not only sketches, but finished drawings and paintings, even occasionally delving into calligraphy.

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Each work is flooded with emotion, reflecting the nightmares and dreamscapes that flood her mind. Whether it is on the commute to work, at work, or burning the midnight oil, she has painstaking taken the time to hone her style into what it is today. Each strand of hair meticulously placed on mannequin like busts and dolls that take centerstage in each piece. Each colour reflecting portions of the deepest recesses of the soul not often seen. Each piece a fraction of the soul on paper.

Do support her on her Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram!!!

But, hey, if these almost gothic pieces do not appeal to your dark side, do come down to the Starving Artist Fair this Saturday at *SCAPEmedia Hub and lend a helping dollar or two to the true backbone of the artistic community in Singapore (and not those organisations claiming to support them)!!!

Links:
Facebook (Suiyobi Noyoubi)
Facebook (Starving Artist Fair)
Instagram
Tumblr

 

Emerge, the artist that resides inside…

For a while I have been dying to get back to exhibiting my artworks and express and share my views of the world in the hope that they would inspire people to pursue their passion and share their own God given talents that reside deep within them with the world. That was an opportunity I was presented with in the past month.

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I went out on a whim to submit my works to a small obscure gallery in Chicago (mind you when I say small, I do mean REALLY REALLY small) through a website I did not even know existed. Going in with no expectations, I received an email later saying that I got the chance to exhibit all the works I had submitted. Granted it may not have been a big exhibition with many applicants, it was still an opportunity that I could not turn down. But  that was only the beginning. I had no idea how much work was to come.

This time, I was out there by myself, with no help from my teachers, advisors and art mentors. I realized at that moment, as I sat alone on the third floor of my university’s physics building that I had so much on my plate – a unexpected exhibition, an upcoming exam and countless lectures and recitations to attend. But at that moment, I felt the thrill and excitement that I have not felt in the past few years. The feeling of the exhibition. The feeling of the opportunity for the world to hear my voice. The feeling of making art.

Now I had to settle many things – logistics, getting from the small town of West Lafayette to Chicago, printing, all those works, presentation, framed and ready for the exhibition. I thought that after my exams I would be done and could finally relax and get in the “Spring Break zone”, but in that moment I found myself running back and forth between buildings, finding the best way to print my artworks that could do them justice. I found myself grappling with issues of artistic integrity, questioning if one small change could make or break my work. Was the paper colour right? Were the colours vibrant enough? Would framing these artworks make them loose their initial concepts? Questions that I have not surfaced over the past three years that I have been in artistic hibernation.  I would run between printers, making initial prints of my photographs, only to find flaws hours after the printers closed. I asked myself it was even worth it, spending so much on an exhibition so small. There was no one night in that week that I slept more than 5 hours, having no personal studio space to finish my works and no one free enough to help me get the materials I needed, let alone time for a breather after the exam.  But the worst thing was that there was no ride to Chicago. It was way beyond stressful.

At many moments during the week I found myself questioning if the entire thing was worth my time and money. Was it that important to me? I ask my closest friends these questions, and I received mixed answers. Even as debated whether I should do it, I continued to go about seeing how they would turn out. I still went to the printers countless times after making minor edits in the photographs and digital works to get it just right. Once again, the attention to detail was something that I had not done to such get an extent for the past 3 years. Yes, I paid attention to any visual detail I came across. Yes, things that would otherwise not catch other people’s eyes would draw my attention. Yes, I spent a lot of time observing small changes in my surroundings. But never was it a situation where insensitivity toward contrast and colour could change an entire audience’s perception of the piece. Even though your image may look perfect on screen, the various printers also have different effects on the image, making them a tad darker or lighter than you intended it to be. This was yet another element that I had to tackle.

So many things to do, so little time…

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On the one hand, I got more and more tired. On the other, I saw my time and effort pay off, whether my works got to be in the public eye or not. Slowly but surely, every thing came together by grace. I have to thank my friend, Charlene, for getting me all the way to The Windy City and standing all the crap I gave in the car and during the time we spent in Chicago. Also many thanks to all my friends and academic advisors, that although they may not have known much about art apart for their love for the aesthetics, who have either supported me or gave me some advise on printers.

At the end of the day, the lessons and payoffs have been priceless. It has not been easy going about art, especially in a university with a dearth of artistic resources. But through perseverance as well as love for art, I learned to make things work and make ends meet. In the process of completing my works, I revived the feeling of what it meant to live and breathe art. The sensitivity towards colour, contrast, lighting, presentation, etc. all became priorities again. A small crease, if not intended became as obvious as a blotch of ink on white sheets. I also came to realised the price of making art. Not only the price to a buyer but the work’s worth to me. Not only was it time consuming, but the cost of printing and getting the desired materials and the costs of transportation blew a gaping hole in my wallet.

However, experience IS priceless…

Do come down if you are around the area!!! Opening night is Friday, 18 March 2016, 6pm – 10pm!!! If not for the modernity of my art, come to admire the beautiful fluidity of the countless watercolours and painstakingly detailed etched pieces of the masters of these long lost techniques.

Gallery Information:
Morpho Gallery
5216 North Damen Ave
Chicago Ill 60625
773-878-4255
morphogallery@gmail.com
Morpho Gallery Website

From the Middle of the Cornfields

Coming from Purdue University in the Mid West state of Indiana!

Just to tell you all that I am alive and in the midst of diving into the deep end of college life. Things will get busy, but I will try my best to post my thoughts and updates on news from the art world from the middle of the cornfields. I also hope to continue my practice somehow, whether it is by simple conceptual sketches or miniature sculptures.

All that being said, for those that are in state and do not mind the commute, there are a few interesting exhibitions happening this fall in the university itself – Installation Graduate Class Exhibition, High School Student Art Exhibition and many solo exhibitions of Purdue Faculty (Purdue University Galleries). However, one that really caught my attention as soon as I arrive on campus was the exhibition right in the middle of Stewart Center, Ringel Gallery. What attracted me to this exhibition was the simple fact that it revolved around the concept of “space” which I have been exploring a depth during my IB years. The artists used physical mediums, such as paint and wood, as well as non-physical mediums, such as digital modelling and photography, to convey their concepts, experience with and exploration of space. So if you are an avid art lover, do make your way down to admire the works on display!

Got to get back to school work before it starts to pile up!!!

The Art Update: Hans Chew – The Personal Process of Craft

Introducing the up and coming student artist Hans Chew!!! Currently studying his final year in School Of The Arts, Singapore (SOTA).

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Recently, he created a work called Not “Always $2”, 2015 which is now on display outside the SOTA gallery on level 2. What you will see is a vending machine carrying pieces and pieces of handmade, thrown ceramics works, painstakingly created and fired piece by piece. Make no mistake, though these pieces may look mass produced (which they were… BY HAND) they were made individually by Hans himself. The pieces all have an allocated slot and allotted price in the machine, and can be bought like any other drink or snack vending machine. But unlike some gallery pieces that are only for show and lack audience-artwork-artist interaction, you, as the audience can actually purchase the work. Do not worry, your pieces will not break because of the drop. In fact I believe it adds a risk and theatrical/performance factor to the entire piece.

This entire installation seeks to bring attention to the artistic making process, from conception to even selling a work. In his concept excerpt, Hans mentions that in our highly mechanized society, represented by the vending machine, the traditional aspect of handmade 11138672_451158251717640_529051109257572916_nceramics and pottery is being “largely compromised”. By doing so, there is not only the loss of interaction between the artist and his works, let alone the audience. Even though pieces are handmade and unique, he mentions that the transaction is between the “audience and machine” at the “convenience of the buyer who can choose to buy any number of works at a fixed price”. Bearing in mind the concept of price, Hans goes on to bring up the monetary value of handmade ceramics pieces, and how greate11129745_451158248384307_602736312965306191_or “scrutiny” and “reflection” is required in determining the monetary value of each piece, taking into consideration materials, firing, glazing, rental of the machine and the painstaking, time-consuming creation of each piece by the artist himself. By putting similar pieces at different prices, he forces the audience to become an integral part of the entire concept, as they have to “attribute to craft in relation to the price they are prepared to pay”.

Personally, this work speaks volumes of what art is today. Questions such “does the artist’s hands really matter in the process?”, “can mass produced ‘pieces’ reconsidered art?” and “if the work is manufactured by machines or collective body, does it still retain the individualistic, craftsmanship by the person who conceived it?” are coming up more and more  in this art era. Works by artists such as Andy Warhol come to mind, and there always lies that age old question – “what makes an artwork, an artwork?” Today even well known artist are asking others to create their final display work. Whether these pieces are too big for one person to handle, or it is part of the concept, I do not know and do not want to judge. However, I believe that if there is a choice by the artist to make the work himself, no matter how massive, there are good reasons that value add to the concept of that work.

The concept of pricing is also a rather sensitive topic. Someone once told me “how expensive you decide to price your work depends on how much you cannot bear to part with it”, and I believe in that entirely. To artists, each work produced is their bread and butter, yet at the same time, they must also 11149375_10202560223646385_3038000592646586694_ndecide which carries more value – the integrity of the work or “surviving” off the piece. Similar to what Hans’ concept raises, people may not always accept high prices no matter how aesthetically pleasing it is to them and no matter how much they want to give to the artist. For all you know, an expensive piece may merely be the going at the cost price of its materials. Time IS priceless after all.

Considering Hans’ work, concept and process, two points come to mind:

The first point is targeted at audiences and buyers, which is the value of works. For those who do not dabble in the Visual Arts, or have little experience, let me say that each stroke and mark has a reason behind it. It is within the Visual Arts that the phrase “do not judge a book by its cover” plays a significant role. When a viewer judges a work, he must not only take into consideration what he perceives, but the entire process itself. The work may seem deceivingly simple, and the first thing that may come to the layman’s mind would be, “I can do that too”. But can 11136713_10202560222966368_348924248087514288_nyou recreate the artist’s process? The process may have been deep and reflective on the part of the artist, time and money, even blood, sweat and tears could have literally been put in to push this idea he believes in out to the public, you. For those who support the arts through monetary means of purchasing pieces, the gravity of the matter is that you, as the buyer are not only participating in the work, like Not “Always $2”, but you are also supporting, believing and, ultimately, buying the concept in its entirety. So understand the piece, beyond the tangible and perceivable and reflect on the impact that a work can have on yourself.

The next point would be towards artists and students of the arts. (Keep in mind that this is just an opinion.) Works that you create must also have a reason behind them. The artwork, like your eyes, are windows to your mind and soul. Do not create works that you are half-hearted about, because people will eventually see through the facade. You, yourself will also realize on hindsight that there was little value in creating that work. Do not do it for the grade or the recognition, because your entire process from conception to realization has a value, monetary or verbally, that will not only be judged by audiences, but yourself as well.

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Nevertheless, PLEASE, please support Hans in this endeavors and consider purchasing a piece before they all run out. Like all handmade pieces they are still unique in their own way. But before all that just stop… and consider all that I have said, particular the value of concept.

After all, how many can say they bought a unique handmade ceramic piece out of a vending machine.

References:
Hans Chew’s Facebook
Photographs Courtesy of Hans Chew, Rebecca Lee  and Timothy Ng

Atmospheric Affair

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To continue where I left of, this is one of two climaxes of my play. By now those who have been reading are familiar with my work Tabula Rasa. Exhibited in Asia’s only sustainable light festival, iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa is a light installation piece within a shipping container. The container was part of nine other containers stacked up one on top of another to form a three-by-three square grid to form an artwork by the New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. In order to make their work more interesting, they invited various schools in Singapore to submit proposals on installation pieces that could utilize the space within the two containers that sat on the base layer. One of the schools was Laselle, College of The Arts and the other was mine, representing School Of The Arts, Singapore.

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This piece was a major turning point of my artistic process for many reasons. For one, this piece made me think beyond the physical aspects and elements of a space, forcing me to look beyond into metaphysical elements such as sound, wind and light. In many ways, I feel that most developing and practicing artist forget that these invisible elements play crucial roles in the interpretation of an artwork. I, for one, look at all works with this in mind. Ingrained deeply in me are the words “respect the space” and with that planted a seed that continuously tells me to be aware of the space that I am in. This has allowed me to perceive environments in more ways than the usual first impression and contemplate the possibilities of that space whether I use it or not in the future. In addition, the fact that this piece was to be put under the public eye made both the journey and the final product things that had to be carefully considered. Questions like “how will the audience respond?” and “what would people think?” constantly haunted me during the process. As a student artist, audience may be forgiving on some level, however, the fact that it is open to the elements means that you are attempting to impress an idea upon people, who will in turn project their response whether it be desirable or not. Ultimately, your passion for the idea will show through, and, as I believe, people will see into that piece of your soul which you have laid out to the public eye and choose to accept it or not. It is the moment that YOU or I can make an impact. It was a turning point of change for both maker and viewer.

In this piece I used light and a smoke machine to create walls of light, much like the light curtains used in technical theatre. In contrast to those in theatre, I created these walls to be horizontal rather than vertical. This was achieved by constructing a false wall that was flushed to the left side of the container which housed both the LED lights as well as the smoke machine. After fixing the lights and the smoke machine in place, a curtain draped over the gap and the entrance in order to conceal the fixtures whiles simultaneously preventing the excessive escape of smoke from the container. Other than these four components, the rest of the container was left empty for people to walk in and immerse themselves into the installation. From the entire duration of the exhibition, the lights would be left on and the smoke machine was programmed to release burst of smoke at regular intervals to maintain the atmospheric effect within the container.

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The objective of this installation was to sensitize people to the space that they were entering and to make them question “what exactly was the artwork?” By this atmospheric effect within the container, I wanted to see if people realized that as they stepped in, they became part of the work. I hoped that they would be able to “feel” their bodies being severed from their heads and legs due to the walls of light and realise the impact of lighting on any space, thereby emphasising how simple, minimalistic metaphysical elements can change not only a person’s impression of the space, but also change the impression of how others view them in that space.

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As can be seen from the images above, a children may have been the only ones who manage to fully experience the environment created. I believe that with their imaginative capacity and sense of playfulness, they saw exactly what I intended the artwork to do. This brought to mind yet another revelation – sometimes we need not be so serious in viewing works that we have to judge them whenever we see them merely because we have the capacity to do so. Being perceptive and fully aware is one thing. But being quick to judge and criticize falls under an entirely different category. Let us first soak in the atmosphere, the piece’s and our surroundings before we start to analyze and attempt to appreciate what lays before our eyes. Mind you, that I said “attempt to”, as I know that to honestly appreciate something  is easier said than done.

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All in all, this work gave me an opening and also opened my eyes by exposing me more to the world of an artist. Not a “student artist”, but a full, practicing one. I could go on and on with the epiphanies and revelations that flooded my mind and have continuously been doing so, but I shall leave it at that and hope that you take some time to decipher my almost cryptographic handwritings in the following posts that they may both enlighten and inspire you as those revelations have greatly inspire me.

Stagnant

3 month silence…

…artistic meditation

Once again I have to apologize for the long break between my posts. I have been busy with applications as well as personal matters that have taken up much of my time and left me exhausted and in great need of sleep. But that being said, I think that the lack of posts is quite apt to illustrate the situation that I was in at that time.

Now I bring to you wordy post filled with reflections. After nearly an entire year creating my series of doors, I found myself at a point of stagnation. I realized that all I had created were doors, nothing more. The visual stimulation was getting old and the subject matter was getting repetitive. I was asked again and again, “why doors? Why ONLY doors?” to which I would reply with the same dry answer that it represented a conceptual transition of space. But after a while it struck me that it was impossible to carry on my exploration and find success and contentment where I was going. It was a dead end. I was throwing myself into a black hole, insisting that it would lead out to something greater, when in fact it was nothing but a time sucking vortex of chaos.

At that point I told myself to stop.

I resided to not doing. I knew that the path that I had to find would need to encapsulate the essence of space into an elegant series of works and accompanying concept and at that moment I was so possessed by the subject matter of doors that if I were to continue, that path would never be found. This caused me to have a three-month silence.

In these three-months, inclusive of my end-of-year holidays and the January of my final year, I removed myself from my practice nearly entirely. I barely stepped into the studio and did not lay sight to any of the artworks that had consumed me. Looking back, those three months are now a blur. I would be lying if I said I did intensive research, burning the midnight oil in desperation to find the elusive inspiration I needed. In fact, I think I just did not care. Do not get me wrong, I was still extremely worried as the hours, days and weeks went by, but some part of me knew that that was the time to be silent and still, and reflect on what could be done. In the end, the waiting paid off. there was an open call for students to submit their proposal for an installation for iLight Marina Bay, Singapore in collaboration with New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. Through what can only be described as a miracle, my proposal was selected, and that led to the creation and manifestation of the work Tabula Rasa for the month-long exhibition. That opportunity was a major breaking point in my five years of studying and practicing art, and even now, I believe that if that opportunity did not come by, my thought processing, conceptual development and visualization would neither matured as quickly nor as professionally as it did in that short span of two months of intensive conceptualization and physical construction.

What this entire process taught me was that there should not be any fear in just stopping and drawing back to become the outsider looking in. When you are rapt and absorb in the art making and conceptualization process you forget to take the position of an outsider, and audience looking at your piece. I found myself thinking how awesome my work was and, thinking it was perfect as it was, and just continued churning similar copies of works out. What they were was just that – copies. They did not add to the substance of my attempt at a paradigm shifting concept.  Ultimately, the artist is not the one viewer at the exhibition, you are neither the one judging the work nor the one trying to impress the message upon. Personally, I know that things that may be clear to you. However, more often than not be clear to others, especially those who do not usually have their hand in the art scene or practice.

By stepping back, and removing yourself from the “artist’s bubble” you become the critic and in doing so give yourself the cold hard truth you need to reorientate yourself and move the work forward. What I perceived after stepping back was how circular the physical pieces were. I managed to look at them with stranger’s eyes to see that there was little value in continuing down that path. Like me, you will be able to realized the reality and truth in people’s critiques and words, complimentary or harsh.

All in all, by doing this, you will come to see how not bit of criticism is unfounded, harsh or degrading. All criticism is constructive. As much as you, the artist, put in your heart and soul in to attempt move mountains and shift paradigms, you must also realized that it is a reciprocal relationship that you are creating between artist/artwork and audience, for without the audience and their opinions, there is nothing to shift and no room for artistic growth. This was manifested in my work Mechanical Satisfaction – Actually Really Simple (2009), where I placed an empty book next to the piece in order for the audience to respond to the work. I, in turn, drew upon those responses to further my artistic process and sensitize myself to responses to future works no matter that form.

At the end of it all, I now see no criticism as negative or bad in anyway. Rather, it is transformative, moving my own paradigms to more effectively create works that can appeal to your audience, alter stereotypes without compromising artistic integrity.