We are pleased to welcome another young, talented Singaporean artist, Andre Wee to the gallery. A recent graduate from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Wee's works offer fresh visual musings on the ever-prevalent reality of our interaction with urbanity. Dealing with themes of space with an almost upbeat romanticism, they represent an experience that moves away from the concerns of technological advancement and modernization. Through a combination of sure-footed brushwork, gestural mark-making, disciplined representation and personal involvement, Wee invites viewers into a veritable playground filled with tension between universal and culturally derived aesthetic convention.
OCBC Art Space is pleased to present Singaporean artist Guo Yixiu’s exhibition Artificial Love at OCBC Art Space from October 6 to 24, in collaboration with Galerie Sogan & Art. Known for her distinct style in manipulating everyday banal objects, and creating real life scenes into photographic composites, Guo further develops this approach in her latest works. The work comprises a collection of objects seen and found by the artist, throughout her lifetime.
OCBC Art Space stands behind emerging local and regional artists. Through Art Space, we seek to showcase works that reflect contemporary conditions and consciousness, executed with refreshing approaches from the frontiers of the art scene. Located in the bustle of our banking hall, we seek to put together a complete art exhibition experience for our customers and the public – to tell them stories of our society, our world, and worlds beyond.
As the youngest artist featured in Singapore Biennale 2013, Guo presents a new series of photographic composites that highlight iconic local monuments, and an on- site installation in her upcoming exhibition, Artificial Love. Through these works, the artist captures her affinity for the “artificial” landscape of the country’s urban skylines, which has today, become 'nature' for many from her generation. To Guo, these significant local architectural icons are symbols of a capitalistic outcome, as well as progress and achievement. As a result of a deliberately planned environment, the attachment for these iconic monuments felt by her peers, reflects a changed 'nature' found within the individual.
As our small city-state commemorates the 50th year of its independence and undergoes new and rapid transformations, Artificial Love invites viewers to reflect upon the true cost of modernisation as well as a changed “nature” across generations.
In The Scream of The Butterfly, Barrioquinto showcases a collective of portraits overlaid with colourful patterns and Japanese print motifs. He enlivens the face as a mask, in the same way that masks are used in great epics like the Ramayana. It becomes allegory where the drama of our existence is played out. The combination of eclectic cultural elements, hollowed facial features and surrealistic qualities create images that are amongst the most sought after and recognisable images of Barrioquinto’s artworks found in private collections and art auctions across Asia.
Barrioqunito’s latest works stemmed from an extremely personal approach, drawing inspiration from his life as a married man and his marriage. The Scream of The Butterfly is seen as a further extension and development from the artist’s wildly popular and widely lauded Japanese series. Barrioquinto continues to be moved by the people he sees, drawing from how those whom he observes perceive and experience their live, and capturing the opposite nature of beauty vs. ugliness, violence vs. kindness and life vs. death. His fascination with dreams and beauty often symbolise hope and emphasise his yearning for conflict resolution.
Contemporary Photography Group Exhibition - Between Building & Dwelling Featuring Angela Guo, Sebastian-Mary Tay and Wilfred Weegee (7 Aug - 28 Aug, 2014)
In Between Building and Dwelling, three emerging local artists Angela Guo, Sebastian-Mary Tay and Wilfred Weegee produce a series of artworks that explores their own take on Martin Hedegger’s theory of Building Dwelling Thinking. According to Heidegger, dwelling is the understanding of relations between building and dwelling, with building not conceived as related to the state of our existence in the world. Building, in other words, in not a mere problem of providing shelter or housing, but also constitutes a part of the tradition that it endows.
For this exhibition, the artist inquire into the space which they regard as of highest importance - home. Their works emphasize upon the significance of home, the precious world that they attribute their presence to, and that affirms their existence and which they participate in the integrity of their being.
In Manila’s Finest: Barbershop Edition, Commeyne presents a series of artworks that explores the unique, randome, witty, mundane and often ignored aspects of the Philippine culture, as seen through the perspective of a “semi-outsider”. Serving as an archival of the ephemeral small-time establishments that shape Metro Manila’s urban landscape, the works in Commeyne’s Barbershop Edition are based on photographs of actual barbershops at a certain moment in time; capturing them as they are, with wears and tears, as well as marks and stains. Thereby lending these old time establishments their authentic characteristics.
Commeyne’s paintings and installations are presented in idealistic manner. Each compartmentalized tools of trades and image depict various moments in time, giving viewers a distinct sense of nostalgy. Similarly, operating as a legitimate advertisement, the pictures can also be read as a well-preserved ephemera. Through Manila’s Finest, Commeyne captures the incongruity of Manila in works of various mediums. Working around icons that have come to represent the city, Commeyne tinkers with images that channel its motley character.
Art Stage Singapore 2014 Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Solo Exhibition - habeas corpus (15 Jan - 19 Jan, 2014)
A wavering yet forceful gust cloaks Alfredo Esquillo’s recent suite of paintings. Characteristically built around themes salient to his art, he imbues these images with volatile force – the theme of banishment evident in the splintered format of the frame, the dynamic compositional orientation, the bent figures and the narratives that couch them. These works represent a casting out, an indictment of sin, a reflection on human dross and the precarious stage on which it is set. The sphere where Esquillo’s figures cower and cringe is in dregs, cursed and ruined by the trembling of the earth, lashed by vicious gales, and beset with sleet of swords that wound human flesh.
Certain motifs are familiar. The earthquake foretold by Mang Lauro, the healer who is prominent figure in Esquillo’s paintings, the fall of man, the crumbling of faith all imbue these works an air of surrender to greater and unseen force. Cataclysm is braided into human folly through the narratives of the pieces, most taken from earlier works. Esquillo’s works function as unified voice, conveying in constant relay his keen intuition of the workings of an inner compass, understood in various ways as spirituality and engagement with a greater, more encompassing moral and social world.
These depictions of doom recall the destruction of great cities and the downfall of civilization. Sodom and Gomorrah obliterated by fire, Mayan cities consumed with visions of world’s end, or Egypt’s old kingdom wracked by famine and drought are some that come to mind. The apocalypse devours our imagination, its signs fervently sought especially when time turns on the millennial wheel. This avid search curiously, may also be a symptom of societies on the edge, in the grip of imminent crisis and dissolution. Spiralling into an abyss of destruction, those who sense impending end resort to extremes: debauchery and revelry or purge and remorse.
Catastrophe is familiar spectre for the Philippines. The year closes with heartbreaking loss from the calamities of corruption, of typhoon Haiyan, and innumerable accidents that befall a vacillating population. It seems ours is whirlpool of small and great versions of catastrophe, ferreted only by our famed resilience, our forgiving nature, or even what some claim as historical forgetfulness. And yet, time and again and most forcibly shown by the most creative conveyances of art, there exist in this seeming morass a will to renewal and resistance or what Esquillo intimately captures – a semblance of salvation.
The triptych Coming of the Plague essays a scene of destruction through its landscape of portent. The earthly world is overcome with an armada of dark clouds tipped with reptile tongues, whipping straps of wind, a slant of piercing rays from the heavens which now appear about to swallow the earth. The horizon disappears behind a mound of rubble. Prone and flinching forms float in this dense atmosphere of ruin. The spatial registers of this realist painting appear contained, layered like slivers of a scene made sense of only in its aftermath. After all, is not the experience of fatal calamities tainted with a similar dimness? Saving the Faith shows a hand grasping a near destroyed crucifix recalling news worthy instances when families amidst quake, flood or fire struggle to rescue miraculous icons from their house altars and town churches. Many of these religious icons become revered patron saints of families and towns, endowed with the miraculous powers that ensure bounty and well being. A woman slides backwards down a precipice, pushed by the invisible power of a singular hand in the painting Trial of Esther. She falls into a weightless swoon, an experience likened to a trance wherein time crawls to torturous slowness and consciousness melds with the cosmos.
Esquillo’s dexterity with figuration is sharpened by a potent understanding of otherworldly themes that in turn, are tempered by the immediacy of the present moment. While he ponders the spiritual, he casts with sharp scrutiny the religious, grounds with avid awareness practices both inherited and current. We find in his practice a contemporariness that succeeds in both embracing influence and inventing a language to probe and rework, to bring on course new forms of knowledge.
In a context constantly beset by crisis, art making becomes a means of revelation and knowing. Esquillo’s immense grasp of the dynamics between the inner self and the outer world makes for a rubric that renders art relevant in this fraught setting. It is apt to quote art historian Patrick Flores at this juncture: ‘the prospect of salvation lies in the image, as it performs a redemptive act’. And this is greatly evident in Alfredo Esquillo’s art, one which attempts to make sense of the incongruity of a condition that resides the fringes of the global. It is reality that can be intuited not ‘all at once’ but by way of what anthropologist Clifford Geertz cites as ‘instances, differences, variations and particulars’. Realism in Philippine contemporary art may perhaps be one of the means to understand this charged and fragmented location.
Written by Tessa Maria Guazon
Art Stage Singapore 2014 Curated Project - Nocturne: Featuring Sarah Choo Jing & Jolene Lai (15 Jan - 19 Jan, 2014)
In the realm of the nocturnal, the oneiric and the quotidian collide.
Sarah Choo’s “The Hidden Dimension” is a presentation of the everyday. Staged in an interior space at once prosaic and phantasmagorical, the video portrays a group of individuals – do they amount to a family unit? – performing various mundane tasks, from eating to bathing to laboring away at an old-fashioned sewing machine. Here, the patterns and rhythms of daily life emerge from their habitual neglect; this is life as a static, subterranean seam, coherent only from one mundane task to the next. “The Hidden Dimension” offers us a vision of the domestic as an almost Kafkaesque spectacle.
Jolene Lai’s paintings are both otherworldly and unsentimental, set in the sort of disregarded spaces that linger at the peripheries of the urban fabric and our collective imagination: a wet market at night; a bus stop, lit only by fluorescent lights overhead; a coffee shop after hours, its plastic tables and chairs littering the walkway of a public housing estate. These landscapes are peopled only by Lai’s trademark figures, a collection of exquisite, fragile young women decked out in harlequin-esque ensembles. Her ingénues, seemingly by the sheer force of imagination, transfigure the cheerless topographies they inhabit into scenes of surreal reverie – or macabre terrors.
In the realm of the nocturnal, things shift, and mutate, and become other.
Curated by Louis Ho
Philippine Art Trek Exhibition - Childhood Games People Play Featuring Carlo Aranton, Lee Paje and Ioannis Sicuya (28 Nov - 22 Dec, 2013)
In concluding the year’s exhibition program, Galerie Sogan & Art is pleased to collaborate with Tin-aw Art Gallery to present works by 3 talented emerging artists at the Philippine Art Trek 2013.
Curated by Leo Abaya, the show Childhood Games People Play focuses on the crucial years that is childhood. Artists Carlo Aranton, Lee Paje and Ioannis Sicuya explore that which are kept hidden, subsumed or substituted with toys and storybooks because families and institutions believe that children must be protected from ideas and habits that signify alterity and deviation from the norm.
Carlo Aranton takes the reductive approach in articulating the quintessential toy gun, reducing their tactile qualities to geometric solids made of wood blocks. By illustrating images of weaponry onto the surfaces, the works imply that awareness of violence are inculcated very early on in life and like baggage, are carried into adulthood. Children storybooks not only make young people aware of morals but also illustrate binary oppositions. Central to this is gender and gender identification in preparation for the roles that are to be played in adulthood. Lee Paje subverts this by playfully interchanging gender roles and stereotypes in the well-loved children stories. The works take the form of charming paper sculptures inspired from pop-up books.
The notion of the Do’s and Don’t’s method of value formation pre-occupies the works of Ioannis Sicuya. He expresses this in the form of “answering machines”, which are boxes that display answers to questions about religion, education or parenting. These boxes allude to the flawed attitudes in validation seeking, which are formed very early on in life. Meanwhile, his painting depict parents’ aspirations imposed on children that suppress not only the latter’s sense of preference, but also innate potentialities.
While the show looks back at childhood with nostalgia, it does so in circumspection of the cautionary tales that come with it through the heretofore unnoticeable aspects of its objects.
Contemporary Photography Group Exhibition - A Room of One's Own Featuring Lavender Chang and Ruyi Wong (7 Nov - 20 Nov, 2013)
A Room Of One’s Own, taken off from Virginia Woolf same -title essay, first published on 24 October 1929, makes room for artist, Lavender Chang and Ruyi Wong to explore the ongoing negotiation between the self, our intrinsic qualities and the others, the external social world. A Room of One’s Own present photography-based work with traces from the artist’ personal life, presenting subjects rooted in their daily life, reintegrating the personal without being satisfied by the merely personal. The spectator is invited into a private sphere, the conditions in which art is made, a hint to the place and circumstances of origin.
Being a Taiwanese and also a Singapore Permanent Resident, Lavender has a duo identity that she never really realizes. In one occasion, she witnessed a mass protest against foreign immigrants in Singapore. For the first time she had the sense of exclusion. The people in the protest suddenly seem alien to her and her perspective of her own identity in this habitat shifted. She becomes more acutely curious of the people around her whom she has known for years. She seeks to understand them better by focusing on their memories, their stories. Each memory and its emotional or non-emotional attachment will slowly unfold during the process of dissecting and probing. Chang seizes the opportunity to know more in-depth about the islanders who she's proudly a part of by simply asking them a very seemingly mundane question. What's your favorite hawker food?
Ruyi Wong’s, born in Singapore, expands her investigation of selfhood to the immaterial sphere. Traversing and translating between sculpture, painting and photography, Wong’s bodily prints, is a series of images, and yet so much more than an image. Starting by photographing image of the nude self, the body that belongs to Wong, is manipulated to become unfamiliar collective bodies. Wong transfers and maps bodily images with other sculptural forms (OHP projectors, soap, wooden cases, organic matter, synthetic leather) forming odd meaning, allows a different kind of conversation to happen in the encounter.
By possessing “rooms” of their own, an own personal liberty for Lavender Chang And Ruyi Wong to create and investigate the multiplicity of self reflexivity in photographic-based art forms, and emerging out of these “rooms” to the public sphere, Galerie Sogan & Art proudly presents A Room Of One’s Own.