Tr i n e O l r i k
To n y Tw i g g
Ng Joon Kiat
Agathe de Bailliencourt
6 â€“ 27 January 2011
C AT A T P
Patronage– a.k.a. the art market – is as old as art itself. We are not naïve here; artists need the market MONG to survive. The pickle in this pigeon coup is not commercialism, but rather its spin. The rigid curatorial HE management of geography [as in ‘an Asia Pacific focus’] leaves little IGEONS room for the sophistication of today’s geo-cultural relationships. Havana based curator and critic Gerardo Mosquera described our times as ‘the era of the hyphen’. TAKSU artists French-born Agathe de Bailliencourt who lives in Germany and works across Asia, or Tony Twigg who The art market has always been splits his year between Manila and the usher of the next wave. Colored Sydney, his work more prominent by the interests of auction houses, in Southeast Asia than Australia are gallerists, art fairs, critics, speculators testament to Mosquera’s argument. and collectors, a cynic could be Their artworks are not framed on prone to wild dreams of conspiracies cultural biography where identity is and a market manipulated by artused as a way to navigate or market mafia fashionistas. What we outside their work, rather their dialogical flow the scene call hype. across territories challenge how we legitimize difference and the market’s A rogue wave is a welcome ripple. authorized representatives to speak for certain domains. Like most things that start with a swell and then rise to an impact, ROGUE WAVE! this exhibition has been curated throws the cat among the pigeons. as a fringe event for the inaugural Art Stage Singapore, but more When you look at this string of twelve interestingly, to offer a counter artists they could easily be split definition of an ‘Asia Pacific focus’, into two threads: the abstractionists the marketing grab singled out to and those reliant on figuration or define Singapore’s latest event. narrative. However, there is a more Singapore is no stranger to the art fair. We have witnessed ARTSingapore, now in its eleventh season and touted as ‘The contemporary Asian art fair’; the short-lived curated fair Showcase Singapore that coincided with the 2006 Singapore Biennale; the art trade-styled show Singapore International Art Fair, The Affordable Art Fair Singapore debuted in 2010, and not forgetting Singapore’s own Sotheby’s Institute of Art churning out aficionados in all matters relating to art valuation and investment. Singapore is not shy at extolling what it does best– business. How then, do we as spectators begin to navigate this market and TAKSU’s response squeezed between the hottest new fair and a biennale? I refer to the words of Lee Weng Choy, an old quote dug up from my library that is still relevant: “For all our multiand inter-culturalist diversity, we are still subjected to the tyranny of the new; we are locked into an economy of producing and consuming art and culture that reproduced the logics of global capitalism.” 1
interesting duplicity to this exhibition. R O G U E W A V E ! celebrates an engagement that sits outside constructs of territory, race or age. What could be more contemporary?
GINA FA I R L E Y
A couple of years ago the word peripatetic was the favored description of art critics and curators to create hype. I return to Mosquera’s position: “More than invent[ing] new terms, the existing ones recombine and recycle, in a spirit of re-adaptation, with meaning concentrated less in words than in the...transfiguring space of the hyphen…it unites at the same time [as] it separates.” 2 Taking this cue, and a provocative stance, I want to draw this ‘division’ further into this rogue group. It is only through abstraction that the real liberation the hyphenated state offers can be achieved. The abstractionists use painting to speak of non-verbal processes. Their interest is primarily in surface and the articulation of a patina of our times, benign of specific location. It is clearly read in de Bailliencourt’s painting Je M’en Fous 37 (2010) or Fauzulyusri’s Ala Mode (2010) embracing spontaneity, urgency and impermanence, where identity and market position of the artist are built through the idiosyncratic mark rather than narrative. It is further illustrated in the work of Ng Joon Kiat, Tony Twigg and Trine Olrik who lift the urban-scape beyond its locality into a spatial dialogue. Olrik’s cardboard construction captures this ethos in its title, Drift (2010), and Twigg’s timber construction in parts becomes a dialogue of positive and negative space, a distant echo of a physical landscape fractured across time. Ng sits comfortably within this camp, purposefully mining an alternative to the landscape tradition parallel to the ever-increasing homogeneity of Singapore, distilled to mere striations of green on canvas. Joe Fleming, like Ng’s use of swatch, absorbs, distills and sutures universal marks into ubiquitous global design.
In contrast the figurative works in this group are more closely aligned with a nationalist stance, and hence remained locked into a global/local dichotomy. This is perhaps most clearly illustrated through the works of Justin Lim, Samsudin Wahab and Umibaizurah Mahir. Lim’s Guilty (2010) takes a Malaysian identity overlaid with a local controversy that is manipulated into a very personal examination of the connections between religion, politics and social mores. It is confrontational without offering a conclusion and, in that, attempts to disassociate itself from fervent nationalism. In the same way Lynyrd Paras, while his work is deeply personal, holds a psychological residual of the patina of living in Manila that is inseparable from a reading of his imagery. These works aren’t more or less resonant or ‘contemporary’ than their abstract colleagues in this exhibition, they simply fall more comfortably within market pigeon-holes that rely on a defined new wave from location x or y.
This point can be further illustrated by Umibaizurah’s ceramics, which in recent years have moved towards a conceptual position and yet their foundation within Malay gender and environmental politics is essential to convey ‘meaning’. Without ‘meaning’ these work float untethered. Froilan Calayag and Olan Ventura similarly turn to the object – the toy - in their work, caught between consumerism, innocence, nostalgia and commentary. Calayag’s title perhaps says it all, ‘Here comes hope with soft chaos’. It is an eloquent summation of the state of figuration in art today, and perhaps also Art Stage Singapore? Korean art critic, Jinsang Yoo speaking of the implosion of Asian biennales in the past decade [and I would add art fairs] stated, “...it has become important for local cities to enhance brand values and showcase their original cultural capacities. The most effective tool for them is contemporary art, which is a kind of common language that enables universal understanding and satisfies cultural and intellectual demands of both the East and the West.” 3 Singapore sits at that intersection of East and West brokered through commerce. R O G U E W A V E ! calls it as it is: an equitable marriage of parts. It is the proverbial Cheshire cat. 1
Lee Weng Choy, “A Taste for Worms and Roses”, published by Artspace Sydney critical issues series 7, 2006, pg. 6
Gerardo Mosquera cited by Rhana Davenport in “Beauty, Shadow-play and Silhouettes”, Art & Australia, Vol. 44 No.2., Summer 2006, pg. 242
Jinsang Yoo, “Biennales of the city itself, of the genre itself”, Art in Asia, No. 8 Nov 2008, pg 60
Agathe de Bailliencourt Accepting imperfection and impermanence is key to understanding Agathe de Bailliencourt’s work. She utilizes disorder, spontaneity and urgency to attain a freedom untainted by reasoning and restraint. Agathe’s drawings and paintings are built spontaneously upon the process of leaving marks– scribbles, doodles and large bursts of primary colours. Over the years, Agathe has endeavoured to expand beyond her initial framed medium of paper or canvas. She embraces the idea of working spaces, and being out of a frame. The resulting installations often give an impression to grow as a continuum with no end.
Je M’en Fous 37 (2010) acrylic, pastels, markers on canvas, 80 x 110 cm Agathe de Bailliencourt (b. 1974, France; lives and works in Germany)
Agathe de Bailliencourt graduated from Ecole des Beaux-Arts Cergy in 1995, and Ecole Boulle Paris in 1998. Since then, Agathe has been exhibiting in various venues in Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Berlin, Yogyakarta, Hong Kong, India, and New York. Agathe de Bailliencourt had also been commissioned by various corporations and institutions, be it limited-edition merchandises Converse (limited edition shoes, 2007), Comme Des Garcons (limited edition T-shirts, 2004); as well as wall painting and permanent installations: National Art Council (2006), Graf Osaka (2009), Freies Museum (2011).
Fauzulyusri The work of Fauzulyusri has been consistently strong over his decade-long career, with 6 solo exhibitions and countless group exhibitions to his name. His ability to pragmatically push his painting in new directions while maintaining a vocabulary of individual mark-making has arrived at a mature expression. A rougher surface than linen, the jute’s heavy woven thread compliments the kind of signature surface scarring, loose irreverence and layering that have become fundamental to the structure of Fauzul’s images. Viewer can easily dissect the image into layers that build the picture, not only in terms of traditional spatial depth from thin paint on raw jute to a dense top application, but also as a device in creating texture within the painting to enliven the surface. It animates the isolated figures and forms so that they appear to float, masked and cropped collagestyle by the dense upper surface. While it is easy to read Fauzul’s paintings as the games and dreams of a child, Fauzul’s geometric abstractions also have the urbanity of graffiti, of scuffed and scarred walls and that sense of decay of contemporary life.
Ala Mode (2010) mixed media on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm Fauzulyusri (b. 1974, Kedah, Malaysia)
Fauzulyusri graduated from UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia in 1999, and has been exhibiting in various venues in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Singapore, and UK. Fauzulyusri ‘s artworks are in the public collections of Balai Seni Lukis Negara (KL), Bank Negara Malaysia (KL), Kementrian Pembangunan Wanita dan Keluarga (KL), Maybank Finance Bhd (KL, Malaysia), among other institutions.
Froilan Calayag “As a child, I saw images on wall, in coffee stains, in the clouds. My child’s eyes saw magical things everywhere, beautiful things that dwelt only in the powerful world of my imagination. Many years have passed, and I did not see those things anymore. I looked at the wall and they were blank, they told me there was an end to everything. I looked at the coffee stains and all they told me was how many days I had been sleepless, working, working, working. I looked at the clouds, they did not reach out to me, they only told me I could not fly. I saw that there was nothing I could nourish the beauty and joy that I had inside me as a child. I wondered where all those things had gone. Until I discovered that through my art, through my creation, I could bring back those things in my childhood that I have been longing to see again.”
Here Comes Hope With Soft Chaos (2010) oil on canvas, 244 x 244 cm diptych Froilan Calayag (b. 1982 in Manila, Philippines)
Froilan Calayag earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at the Technological University of the Philippines. He was the grand prize winner at the 2004 Shell National Students Art Competition, finalist at the 2006 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence, and finalist at the 2009 Philippine Art Awards.
Heat Seeking Love Missile (2009) acrylic on gouged wood, 152 x 366 cm Joe Fleming (b. in Ottawa, Canada)
Canadian artist Joe Fleming has been exhibiting locally and internationally for over 15 years and is represented by Newzones Gallery in Calgary, Elissa Cristall in Vancouver and Gallery TAKSU in Singapore and Malaysia. His painterly process involves aggressively distressing surfaces (mostly wood panel and plexi glass) then rebuilding them with flat graphic devices and brightly coloured enamel hues. Fleming’s work is included in many corporate and public collections including: Pricewaterhouse Coopers (Malaysia), HSBC Bank, Australian High Commission, Canadian High Commission (Kuala Lumpur), the Edmonton Art Gallery, the Museum of Civilization (Hull, Quebec) and the Holocaust Museum (LA). Joe Fleming completed his formal education from Ottawa School of Art in 1979 and Sheridan College of Applied Arts in 1986. He conducted lectures and workshops in various universities in Canada since 1993 to 2009.
Justin Lim Justin Lim examines the connection between existence, religion, politics and its relation in our contemporary social context. Using painting as a medium, he continuously represents and questions the human capability to distort the truth. Justin Lim completed his postgraduate studies in 2006 with the Master of Art (Fine Art) programme by The Open University UK conducted at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore after obtaining a BA (Hons) Fine Art majoring in painting. He has exhibited widely in South East Asia in various solo and group exhibitions and was awarded the 2008 Rimbun Dahan Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency. He has also exhibited at the 2009 Asian Art Biennial at the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and will represent Malaysia at the 2011 Asian Artist Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, USA.
Lynyrd Paras Much of Lynyrd Paras’ inspiration comes from his immediate surroundings. The frenzied, chaotic corner of Manila where he resides and works seems to infuse his art with a certain edginess and raw truth. As much as he strives to apply more formal techniques and creative processes gleaned from practice as well as his education, Paras’ art still remains a statement about place and the realities and issues that exist in it. Live and Let Die (2010) acrylic on canvas and mixed media on perspex, 156 x 133 cm Justin Lim (b. 1983 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Masarap Mag Isip Ng Masaya (2010) oil on canvas, 152.4 x 183 cm Lynyrd Paras (b. 1982, Philippines)
Lynyrd Paras graduated from College of Architecture and Fine Arts, Technological University of the Philippines, Manila in 2005. He has exhibited in various cities in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as participated in various residency programs in the region.
Ng Joon Kiat Landscape painting is a well established genre in the art histories of various cultures. While landscape paintings vary greatly in their conceptual motivation and use of formal techniques, they often have a few assumptions in common, including the thinking that gravitational force acts from the top of the painting towards the base, and that the pigments should always fuse with the painted surface. Ng attempts to challenge these assumptions in the works presented in Garden City.
Untitled from Garden City II (2010) oil on canvas, 190 x 200 cm Ng Joon Kiat (b. 1976, Singapore)
Ng Joon Kiat obtained his Diploma in Fine Art (Painting) from Lasalle-SIA Singapore in 1997 on NAC Arts Grant, Georgette Chen Scholarship, and Ericsson Scholarship; before pursuing his Bachelor of Art in Fine Art from RMIT (Australia) in 2001, and Master of Arts in Fine Art from University of Kent (U.K.) on a full Shell-NAC scholarship in 2002. He has since then continued his practice, participated in various group exhibitions in the region, and executed several solo exhibitions in various venues in SIngapore, among which are: National Museum of Singapore (2007), TAKSU Singapore (2008), and Jendela @ The Esplanade (2010). Ng Joon Kiat is currently part of the academic staff in Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media.
Olan Ventura The second of the Ventura trio of brothers is known as a sensitive portrayer of his own personal, domestic life, where his wife and child figure prominently in his work. The piece chosen for this exhibit represents a very different take on domesticity, perhaps one that links the child in the artist to the subject matter. With an underlying vulnerability, the subject matter ceases to be toys, or even striking examples of pop art, but instead become statements about our own fractured sense of isolation and helplessness.
Toybox (2009) resin figures in perspex boxes, 197 x 42 x 42 cm Olan Ventura (b. 1976, Philippines)
Olan Ventura graduated from Fine Art program from University of the East in 1998. Olan Ventura was the recipient of Juror’s Choice Award in the 2005 Philippines Arts Award. Since then, Olan has exhibited in various galleries in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Samsudin Wahab Samsudin Abdul Wahab’s paintings intuitively bridge the local / global dialogue, picking up on a collective awareness informed by the internet, profusion of international magazines, comic sub-culture and its fusion with indie industries, desktop graphics and graffiti. Samsudin Wahab graduated from UiTM Seri Iskandar Perak in 2005, and from UiTM Shah Alam in 2007 with BA (Hons) in Fine Arts, Majoring in Printmaking. He has exhibited extensively in various spaces in Malaysia and Singapore, and was awarded Malaysian Emerging Artist Art Award in 2009. Among several Artist Residency programs that Samsudin participated in are: Rimbun Dahan Malaysia (2009), TARP KL Malaysia (2009), and Mumbai, India (2010).
The Greedy Land (2010) acrylic, bitumen, and ink on canvas, frame, 77 x 55 cm Samsudin Wahab (b. 1984, Malaysia)
To n y Tw i g g Fascination with space as a medium is evident in works by Australian artist, Tony Twigg. Often referring to his art works that are created with enamel paint on timber as “constructions”, his lattice-like works show his attentiveness to the space that surrounds structure. During his last decade spent travelling through Asia, Tony’s work has developed into an engagement with objects, as he describes them, ‘objects found beside the road’. He feels that he can read the language of these objects that crosses the national and cultural boundaries of our region. Most of his works incorporate found objects or found materials and he readily acknowledges the hand of an anonymous collaborator in their making. He sees truth in his found materials that he says, “are facts that come after the facts of history; they are the facts of life”. Tony Twigg studied painting in Australia and holds a Master of Arts Degree in Visual Art from the College of Fine Art, Sydney. As his work developed he incorporated elements of film, video and performance into his installations. “Learning to Swim” presented at The Art Gallery of New South Wales and “A Shadow in our Tree” at the Queensland Art Gallery both developed historical narratives that he also told in his short films, notably “A Passion Play” that represented Australia at the Cannes Film Festival. When Tony began exhibiting in Manila in 1996 his work was abstracted. He continues living in both cities and in 2005 he began exhibiting with TAKSU. Since then his work has been seen in group and solo shows in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Tr i n e O l r i k Sticks from 2004 (2004-10) enamel on timber construction in 6 parts, 178 x 89 x 9 cm Tony Twigg (b. 1953, Australia; lives and works in Australia & Philippines)
“Fragile cardboard cityscapes echo the fragmentary and ephemeral. Uninhabited, the intricate complexity of Trine Olrik’s spaces “carry” a weight of the air that passes in their midst, reciprocated by the sense of the lightness in these impoverished urban forms” (Robert Luzar) London-based Trine Olrik graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1993 with Bachelor (Hons) in Sculpture, and from Royal Academy Schools London in 1996 with Masters in Sculpture. Since then, she has mounted three solo exhibitions in Copenhagen and in London; and took part in several group exhibitions in Europe. Trine is the recipient of 1996 The Royal Academy Reynolds Club, and 2010 The Open West Cheltenham. Her works are in the collection of Copenhagen Councils Art Trust (2008) and various private institutions in UK, Los Angeles, Denmark, and France.
Drift (2010) cardboard sealed with UV filtered varnish and plywood, 250 x 135 x 125 cm Trine Olrik (b. 1967, Denmark; lives and works in London, U.K.)
To Umi, clay is akin to life: unpredictable, but with many possibilities. Working with clay has taught her that depending on the complexity of form, outcomes can either be full of surprises or just pure disappointment. The process is ongoing, and intuition plays a big part in choosing the medium and materials that she works with. Clay, to her, is a form of vehicle for communication between religion and people across cultures. Umi’s clay pieces, adorned with unusual objects found around the environment, seem simple and playful. In fact, they penetrate deep beyond the superficial layer of experience and explore various issues that relate to human perceptions. Umibaizurah Mahir received Bachelor in Fine Arts (Hons) from MARA University of Technology in 2000. Since 1997, she has participated in exhibitions in various spaces in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, and Pakistan. Umibaizurah represented Malaysia in the 2009 Jakarta Ceramics Biennale. She was among the Top 10 Winners of The Young Contemporaries 2006 by The National Art Gallery Malaysia, and was awarded Top 5 Winners for her collaboration with children in making clay sculpture at the Tokoname City Culture Hall, Aichi, Japan. Umi’s works are collected by various institutions and private collectors: National Art Gallery Malaysia, Petronas Gallery Malaysia, Asia Arts Network Seoul Korea, and Aliya & Farouk Khan Collection, Malaysia.
Mobile Family (2010) ceramics, velvey, glass case, wood frame, and table wood, 145 x 102 x 41 cm Umibaizurah Mahir (b. 1975, Malaysia)
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Published on Dec 14, 2010