Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See
Donna Ong, My Paradise Lost (2020). Diasec Print. Detail. Courtesy the artist and FOST Gallery.
Singapore Art Week returns for its 10th edition between 14 and 23 January 2022 with a programme of over 100 events across the island, complemented by the return of S.E.A. Focus—a showcase of contemporary art from Southeast Asia presented by galleries from across the region. Below is a list of must-sees selected by Ocula Magazine.
Donna Ong: Somewhere Else: The Forest Reimagined
FOST Gallery, 1 Lock Road, 01-02 Gillman Barracks
12 January–6 March 2022
Singaporean installation artist Donna Ong, known for her constructions of natural landscapes and environments using found objects, continues her work with found imagery in Somewhere Else: The Forest Reimagined, which explores image exploitation of the tropical forest within the travel industry.
Ranging from 17th-century lithographs to glossy photographs from travel brochures and Instagram, these representations of the tropics directly impact how we are conditioned to act towards endangered environments.
A former Olympian sailor, Charles Lim Yi Yong's interest in maritime history formed the starting point for a body of works that capture Singapore's island geography. For half a year, Yong sailed along the east coast anchorage of Singapore, noting the subtle changes of clouds and wave patterns.
Staggered Observations of a Coast is the culmination of Yong's documentation, providing insight into unseen changes in nature and in Singapore's histories across prints, paper works, and sculpture.
Chua Mia Tee: Directing the Real
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road
26 November 2021–20 November 2022
Exhibited in a museum for the first time since 1992, Chua Mia Tee's oil paintings document social and political life in Singapore and Malaya in the 1950s and 60s, showing landscapes and portraits rendered in the style of social realism.
Tee's stark representations go beyond realism to bring out historical moments in vivid depictions of the country amid its formative years, exploring the tensions underlying Singapore's development over 50 paintings and sculptures.
Korean-American video and installation artist Nam June Paik, renowned for his early adoption of electronic media works, coined the term 'electronic superhighway' in the late 20th century in anticipation of changes that would follow the internet.
The Future is Now surveys over five decades of Paik's work, featuring installations, projections, modified televisions, robots, and video sculptures, incorporating archives narrating Paik's background in music and his participation in the Fluxus movement.
Yeo Workshop, 47 Malan Road #01-25
15 January–27 February 2022
Fyerool Darma's paintings look into forgotten histories, often drawing from archives to resurrect past spectres, as seen in the artist's first major exhibition Moyang (Malay for ancestor) in 2015 at Flaneur Gallery, which featured portraits of historical painters and politicians from the region, rendered headless.
The exercise in composition and decomposition is carried over to the artist's exhibition at Yeo Workshop, an entanglement of allusions to hypervisuality and climate change across dye on fabric works that incorporate acrylic and thread, such as Screenshot of Windows HD wall paper woven with Keppel Club 4K (2021).
A Room of her Own
Sundaram Tagore Gallery, 5 Lock Road
14 January–19 March 2022
A Room of her Own presents works by eight women artists that reimagine real and symbolic spaces, including Anila Quayyum Agha's large-scale light installations made to occupy the spaces she was refused access to as a woman growing up in Lahore.
Lim Soo Ngee: Masque Sonata
Art Porters Gallery, 64 Spottiswoode Park Road
23 December 2021–20 February 2022
Drawing parallels between masks and melody, Masque Sonata looks into the fronts we put on to face social and personal tragedies.
Concealed behind painted masks, Lim Soo Ngee's carved wooden figures emanate feelings of melancholia and solitude while offering quiet contemplations on the role of the mask—a covering used for both deception and festivities.
Gajah Gallery, 39 Keppel Road 03-04
14 January–6 February 2022
For Reframing Roots, artists from around the world confront the idea of being rooted as they revisit native landscapes and investigate cultural and historical inheritances––as with Indonesian abstract painter Erizal As, whose turn to expressive landscapes is inspired by the lush environment of his hometown Padang, West Sumatra.
Others, like Malaysian Chinese-ink painter Paul Nickson, contend with rootedness not as return but recovery, replicating discarded spiritual practices across oils on canvas that posit ritual and prayer as a relief to contemporary anxieties.
Faris Heizer: Crooners
Cuturi Gallery, 61 Aliwal Street
8–31 January 2022
Faris Heizer's oil and acrylic paintings narrate the life of the salaryman after dark, depicting sombre earth-toned figures hunched over in conversation, wallowing on their own, or spiralling into reflection, adorned with hints of ennui and despair.
Across highly textured and low-frequency works, figures are captured in moments of vulnerability, caught unguarded chatting with friends, or mellowed out after one drink too many.
Ivan David Ng: Roads Around A Mountain
Gillman Barracks, 5 Lock Road, #01-06
14–23 January 2022
Ivan David Ng's mix-media works reside at the intersection of painting and sculpture. Roads Around A Mountain, organised by CHAN + HORI COMTEMPORARY, will show new relief paintings bearing Ng's signature collated surfaces, as sighted in previous handmade-paper works like Hives of Meanings (2019), a blend of woven painting on paper, resin, tempera, and charcoal on wood.
Abundant with colour, Ng's latest collage works explore the restless nature of human desire.
Jay Ho: Oumuamua's Tale
Gillman Barracks, 1 Lock Road, #01-01
14–23 January 2022
Jay Ho's textured compositions evoke organic structures and topographical landscapes, built from layers of gloss paint and resin, etched on canvas and aluminium surfaces, or peeling away.
Hinting at the grandeur of nature and the transience of existence, paintings in Oumuamua's Tale (alluding to the first interstellar object detected in the solar system) explore the role of faith in art-making and the desire to find connections across time and space.
Loi Cai Xiang: Spacetime Dreaming
Gillman Barracks, 7 Lock Road, #01-13
14–23 January 2022
Trained as a traditional oil painter, Loi Cai Xiang's photorealistic images reflect the artist's take on urban environments, depicting dystopias through collapsing buildings and spherical vessels hovering over cityscapes.
Spacetime Dreaming continues Xiang's galactic exploration across a series of alabaster white nudes painted in space. Stretched out to reveal chest bones and protruding ribs, they inquire into narratives of identity and personhood—boundless, expansive, and subject to change.
Guided by the concept of gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), Thai-born artist Korakrit Arunanondchai employs everything from film, installation, and performance, borrowing from Shamanic rituals to create time-transcending works that investigate the possibility of an afterlife.
A Machine Boosting Energy Into the Universe explores the coexistence of machines and humans in the 21st century, replicating a post-apocalyptic environment using debris of electronics, automobiles, and second-hand clothing repurposed into cyborg figures alongside a large-scale video installation.
Hatch Art Project, 7 Yong Siak Street
14 January–14 February 2022
Harnessing the power of technology, vegetation is immortalised through 3D modelling, machine learning, and programming in BIOS- Living NFTs, an NFT project inspired by plant collections by Jake Tan and Ernest Wu, on view in Hatch Art Project's group exhibition Networked Machines.
Growing from seed into a plant on blockchain, the dynamic NFT will be the first collectible with an aesthetic state that is morphed without interference on the blockchain. —[O]