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b. 1979, Singapore

David Chan Biography

Rendered in a realistic style and with a touch of dark humour, David Chan's paintings of animals, humans, and their hybrids explore the facets of human behaviour, popular culture, and social dilemmas in contemporary society.

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David Chan garnered critical and public recognition for Genetic Wonderland, his first solo exhibition at Art Seasons, Singapore, in 2004. In a 2016 interview with Popspoken, the artist said that the animal characters in his work stand for 'human circumstances and behaviours', forming a reminder of the similarities between humankind and animals that we do not readily recognise.

Recurrent themes in David Chan's early paintings include the juxtaposition of dogs and their robotic counterparts, and their relationship with humans. All Dogs Go To Heaven: Doberman (2005) shows actual and cyborg dogs side by side, each wearing a historical Elizabethan collar and posing for their portraits before heavenly clouds. In Walking the dog, another painting from 2005, such a pairing of dogs are engaged in a rivalry over a human figure—presumably their owner—who sits between them.

Sardonic humour is often a defining feature of David Chan's works. In the 2011 painting You Are So Special, Just Like Everyone Else, hybrid characters—animal heads on human bodies—crowd the square canvas. All Animals Are Equal, from the same year, features a group of animals approaching a table full of food. The feast includes desserts, fruits, and lobsters and shrimp, amplifying the luxury.

In 2016, as part of the Singapore Biennale, David Chan installed The Great East Indiaman in front of the Singapore Art Museum. The monumental sculpture, which shows a skeletal whale encased in the frame of a steel ship, unfurls a folklore that combines the historical arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in Singapore with the fictional whale that led him to the shore.

David Chan received a BA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology School of Art in 2014 and lectures at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. In 2004, he was the winner of the 23rd UOB Painting of the Year Competition in the Representation Medium Category. Chan's work has been featured in numerous solo and group presentations, including at Art Seasons, Singapore; Art Central Hong Kong; and Art Stage Singapore.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

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