The art scene in Singapore is maturing quickly. I visited Gillman Barracks, the new hub for contemporary South-East Asian Arts in Singapore. It opened in September 2012 and when I visited already had 13 galleries with more to come. My favourite exhibitions were by two Singaporean painters, Ian Woo and Wyn-Lyn Tan. Ian is one of the most influential painters in the Singapore art scene. His large abstract paintings are complex and multi-layered with many different kinds of painterly marks. Rhythmic and dynamic they played with the figure/ground shift of the picture plane.
Wyn-Lyn Tan was the second painter to catch my eye. Her large ethereal works were based on her journey to the arctic circle for an artist residency and captured the colours, light and mood of the frozen land so different from tropical Singapore.
I attended the opening of Shih Yun Yeo’s solo exhibition Conversations with Trees, at Art Forum Singapore. Shih Yun Yeo is the Director of INSTINC Gallery and a well-known Singaporean artist. Her process for these works is fascinating. Yeo ties Chinese brushes, dipped in black ink, onto tree branches and lets the movement of the wind make marks. Yeo then scans and digitally recomposes these marks and silkscreens them onto canvas and paper. The final works become a collaboration between artist and tree.
I also visited the studio of Boo Sze Yang, another one of Singapore’s top painters. Boo Sze Yang’s recent works explore the idea of the shopping mall as the modern cathedral, as a place of sanctuary. Painted very quickly in oils, his surfaces are rich with the materiality of paint – from very thin and dripping washes, to heavy dabs of paint and sgraffito marks. His studio is in the Goodman Arts centre – a hub of creative studios of visual artists, musicians, dancers and thespians. Boo Sze Yang was very generous with his time and sharing his knowledge of the Asian art market.
One of the enjoyable aspects of artist residencies is the learning and sharing of experiences and while in Singapore I was a guest speaker at a Pecha Kucha event and also gave an artist talk at INSTINC Gallery. At both events I spoke about exploring Singapore on foot, ways of walking without planned routes and how I had translated my experiences into paintings.
With Shih Yun Yeo, Director of INSTINC, at the opening of her exhibition
Speaking at Pecha Kucha
Boo Sze Yang with one of his paintings in progress