REVIEW: ‘A Drawing Show’ at Yeo Workshop

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Wong Lip Chin, Unicorn Quarter Series

Drawing, one would tend to assume, is pretty simple stuff – after all, everyone does it, in one way or another. Schoolkids add moustaches to historical figures in their textbooks, office-workers doodle idly while pretending to pay attention in endless meetings, and sometimes it’s just faster to convey an idea to someone by grabbing the nearest bit of spare paper and tossing off a quick sketch. This elemental simplicity comes into play in the title of Yeo Workshop’s latest show – an exhibition of drawings titled, surprisingly enough, ‘A Drawing Show.’ In an age of ever-multiplying, ever more sophisticated media for artists to work in, what’s the place of what might be the simplest medium of all?

Of course, the simplicity of drawing doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s somehow crudely deficient, as stone tools would be compared to, say, a surgical scalpel. It hints, instead, at its foundational character in visual art, forming the basis of fundamental concepts like line and form, which are then propagated through the diverse menagerie of media available to artists today. At the same time, the proliferation of media allows for the emergence of different perspectives on these basic building blocks, giving artists the context in which to explore, investigate, and even re-assess the nature of drawing itself.

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Ian Woo, Tracker (2)

Viewed in this light, even the basic act of taking pencil to paper boasts a wealth of possible significance, as we might encounter in the seductive grace of Ian Woo’s drawings. His amorphous forms, verging on the geometric and resisting any simple readings,  seem at once both opaque and transparent, the patterns and almost-patterns sprawling across our field of view according to their own logic, somehow reminiscent of floaters and other oddities of human vision. It’s best, perhaps, to discard any attempt to decipher them as abstractions or representations of something or another, and allow your eyes and mind to wander through these visual territories.

Presenting a stronger sense of rootedness are works by Boedi Widjaja. Though we might imagine that the basic procedure of drawing consists of making marks on a given surface, Widjaja adds a layer of depth – in physicality, and history – by deriving these marks from rubbings of surfaces he encountered during a residency in a medieval French village. In effect, the works act as a medium or interface between two very different senses of place, drawing a line between surface worn by history, and the coolly timeless space of an art gallery, with the former also intruding into the latter in Widjaja’s eschewing of conventional display of his densely textured works, opting instead for prosaic materials like brick and glass.

Wong Lip Chin’s works take yet another perspective on drawing, taking the solidly graphical traditions of animation and distributing them throughout the gallery. While each glyph or drawing certainly remains on a two-dimensional surface, the body of work as a whole is distributed through the space, confounding easy distinctions between drawing and site-specific installation, perhaps as some wry mutant offspring of the free-spirited character of (non-commissioned, distinctly unofficial) graffiti and street art.

Much as drawing a line requires one to move a pencil (or pen, or other implement), the show, taken together, reminds us that drawing isn’t some static, stagnant, subsidiary thing to be looked over in favour of media of greater purported sophistication – even the simplest of systems and rules can lead to exponential depth and complexity.

A Drawing Show runs until Sep 14, 12 to 7 pm Tue to Sat, 12 to 6 pm Sundays, at Yeo Workshop, #01-01 1 Lock Road, Singapore 108932. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Free admission.

Written by Bruce Quek

REVIEW: Solo Exhibition by Michael Lee at Yavuz Fine Art

Home, Hammocks and Hazards

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Michael Lee, Machine for Living Dying In

Walking into Yavuz Fine Art to see Michael Lee’s solo exhibition, I am first confronted by a Tracey Emin-ish neon sign in turquoise on the wall in front of me. The cursive text says “machine for living/dying in” with the word “living” crossed out and replaced by “dying”. On my far left is another piece of work in the room. It is a video installation, in a tombstone-like black structure, which flashes names and details of individuals in English and Chinese, explaining the circumstances in which they were found – having died or disappeared alone. The title of the work is aptly Going Solo. After such a sobering welcome I am a little apprehensive about walking into the next room which has a heavy industrial PVC curtain hanging at the door. As I walk through l hope that there will be some more work to see and so the black hammock, a black wooden shelving system, a glass case and some framed work on the wall at the far end of the room make me slightly uneasy.

Perhaps, that is what the artist wants the viewer to feel- uneasiness and a sense of something waiting to happen or lurking behind the scenes. What seem like innocuous household objects – the hammock and shelves - take on a sinister feeling and on turning around I notice that the curtain and wall that I walked through is painted in diagonal black and yellow stripes that scream hazard in capital letters. Indeed the three dimensional collages across the room are all titled Hazard No 1 through to No 7 and each one is a depiction of a home opening up the assumption of a home as a safe place.    

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Michael Lee, Hazard No. 1

The title of the exhibition and the turquoise neon text are inspired by the contradictory notions of home of two architects. Le Corbusier who is well known for his contribution to urban planning and design during the early 20th century stated that ‘the house is a machine for living in’. Douglas Darden on the other hand, stated that “a house is for dying”. Lee combines these two statements to portray the home as both a place for comfort and discomfort. An ambiguous phrase that is non- judgemental and open to interpretation by the audience or receiver. Lee says that he wants his work to be a trigger for reflection and self critique and recognises that it can often be misinterpreted and misused but he hopes that such slippages can be transformative.

So what are the hammock and the wooden IKEA shelving system doing in his exhibition? Both reference a topic that Lee has tackled before in his works…public housing. The hammock references the 2009 incident where a hammock strung between the two columns in the void deck of a HDB block was reported as “outrageous” on STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print or STOMP is a citizen-journalism website with user-generated material) and the shelves reference HDB public housing which continues to be a hot topic of debate in Singapore.

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Installation View

Machine for Living Dying In runs till 21 September 2014 at the Yavuz Fine Art, 51 Waterloo Street, #03-01, Singapore 187969. Hours are 11am - 7pm (Tue - Sat), 1pm - 5pm (Sun), Mon & public holidays by appointment only.

Written by Durriya Dohadwala

INTERVIEW WITH AUDREY YEO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF YEO WORKSHOP, SINGAPORE

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What inspired you to set up the gallery? What is Yeo Workshop’s mission?

It was a very natural thing: I am very appreciative of any sort of culture having grown up with friends and family who are artists and musicians. I’ve always been very interested and involved and have always wanted to help to promote their work. 

The mission of Yeo Workshop is to show and sell good artworks and create value for collectors on artworks acquired early, and as a result be able to sustain an incubator for promising emerging artists.

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INTERVIEW WITH IAN WOO, ONE OF SINGAPORE’S LEADING ABSTRACTIONISTS AND PROGRAMME LEADER AT LASALLE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS, SINGAPORE

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Photo courtesy of  Milenko Prvacki

Please tell us more about this body of work, is this your first time showing your drawings?

My practice involves both drawing and painting. Since my first solo exhibition in 2000 I have shown drawings in graphite.  I did an all watercolours show in 2003 at the Plastique Kinetic Worms, then there was ‘Aversion’, a publication by curator Guo-Liang Tan which had an accompanied exhibition that featured a series of large graphite on paper works ‘Lot Sees Salt’. It now sits in the collection of Singapore Art Museum.  Last year I had a works on paper group exhibition called ‘Side Glance’ curated by Charles Merewether, featuring Genevieve Chua, Jeremy Sharma and myself.

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Gillman Barracks

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Singapore’s largest arts enclave, with sixteen contemporary art galleries, three restaurants and the Centre for Contemporary Art, is housed in this idyllic precinct. Located in former army barracks along Alexandra Road, the complex is one where art collectors, or simply art lovers, can escape the city crowds and immerse themselves in a haven of art. Friendly gallerists are always ready to share their knowledge and expertise, helping you to continue or just begin your journey through the art world.

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The Artling recently flew to Jakarta to check out Bazaar Art Jakarta. Here are some images of what we saw……

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Bazaar Art Jakarta, The Pacific Place Jakarta

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Yoshitomo Nara 

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Semarang Gallery

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A Quiet Place #2, Andy Dewantoro

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Damage, Andy Dewantoro

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Artsphere Gallery

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Insectum Series, Agan Harahap

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Tree No. 23, Carlos Aguirre

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Katuki Keisuke 

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Ohnishi Yasuhiro 

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Tristes, Wang Zhibo

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Wave Drawing, Nobuaki Takekawa

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Scenery with Crane, Fumihiro Takemura

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Eko Nugroho 

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Postcards from the Alps, Eddie Hara

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Infinity-Nets [Riota], Yayoi Kusama

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Yayoi Kusama 

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The Contingent 8, Jompet

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Robert Zhao 

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Jalasveva Jaya Mahe, Heri Dono

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The Looming Dark Estuary, Sunaryo

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No Place To Hide, Entang Wiharso

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Etsuko Fukaya

REVIEW: Zen Teh, ‘Calls for a New Natural Order’ at 2902 Gallery

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                           Zen Teh, The Imperative Landscape, Cosmos

Here in tiny, land-scarce Singapore, it comes as no surprise that nature’s often had to take a backseat to the demands of progress and development. Even as campaigns to save the Green Corridor and Bukit Brown make it plain that not everybody’s on board with the idea of replacing natural areas with highways and shopping malls, there’s precious little left of nature on the island. What does remain often ends up aggressively manicured, presenting not so much nature as some carefully orchestrated interpretation of nature, filtered through very human expectations and perspectives. 

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Reflections: King For A Day by Equator Art Projects

The title of the exhibition is as ambiguous as it seems.

King For a Day was a rather spontaneous project in which Equator Art Projects sought to engage with emerging Singapore artists.The concept of the exhibition consisted of two parts: the first was to put together a group show, featuring works representative of each artist’s current practice. Our Main Gallery in this scenario represented a conventional exhibition space. The fun began with the Project Room, which each artist, as King or Queen, was given ‘ownership’ of this small kingdom for two days. This intimate space was visualised as an alternative platform for the artists to openly conceive a solo project. Perhaps it was an opportunity to do something experimental, or to expand on aspects of their art-making and for others, to respond to the bizarre exhibition title.

Here are reflections from the artists about their solo projects.

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Art Galleries Association of Singapore presents their annual exhibition titled Edition(ed) at Artspace@Helutrans, from 17 - 20th July. Over 20 participating galleries will be showcasing more than 70 works ranging from photographs, prints, sculptures and digital works. The Artling director, Talenia will be taking part in a panel discussion on the history and currency of editions, alongside Eitaro Ogawa, chief printer of STPI and Belinda Fox, artist and printmaker, Louis Ho, art historian, critic and curator, and moderated by Benjamin Hampe of Chan Hampe Galleries.
Don’t miss this event! For more details, check out www.agas.org.sg

Art Galleries Association of Singapore presents their annual exhibition titled Edition(ed) at Artspace@Helutrans, from 17 - 20th July. Over 20 participating galleries will be showcasing more than 70 works ranging from photographs, prints, sculptures and digital works. The Artling director, Talenia will be taking part in a panel discussion on the history and currency of editions, alongside Eitaro Ogawa, chief printer of STPI and Belinda Fox, artist and printmaker, Louis Ho, art historian, critic and curator, and moderated by Benjamin Hampe of Chan Hampe Galleries.

Don’t miss this event! For more details, check out www.agas.org.sg