RIP­PLE ROOT AL­LI­SON M. LOW

Female (Singapore) - - F-COVER LOOK -

Call Li­quan Liew, 32, and Estella Ng, 27, the “tele­pathic art twins” be­hind this three-year-old art and de­sign col­lec­tive quintessen­tially Gen Y. They work spon­ta­neously and col­lab­o­ra­tively, paint­ing side by side, and are open to each other adding el­e­ments to what they have done. They em­brace com­mer­cial work as much as their own artis­tic vi­sion – their client list is a who’s who of the creative and life­style scene: Muji, Face­book, the Na­tional Gallery, and The Lo & Be­hold Group, just to name a few. (That psy­che­delic na­ture-in­spired mu­ral at the lobby of the Straits Clan? It’s by them.) And while their love for Matisse, South-east Asian art and prim­i­tive folk pat­terns is ap­par­ent in their work, their fre­netic lines, play­fully ab­stract fig­ures and bold use of colour lend an ef­fer­ves­cent spirit that would make the In­sta­gram-happy, well, very happy. “There’s al­ways a tongue-in-cheek qual­ity. Even when we make ‘se­ri­ous’ art, we want the viewer to ex­pe­ri­ence the same joy we en­counter in the creation process. Art should be uplifting,” says Ng. De­scrib­ing their aes­thetic as “swamp life po­etry”, they’re big on flora and fauna, which was why we thought it apt for them to in­ter­pret the botan­i­cal prints of (pre­vi­ous page, from left) Dior, Diane von Fursten­berg and Dries van Noten. True to their whim­si­cal na­ture, the duo – who are in talks with a Syd­ney-based in­sti­tu­tion for a show early next year – turned the run­way mod­els into birds. Says Liew: “Art/de­sign doesn’t have to fit a set ideal or have a de­fined look. We like be­ing fluid, and we go by our own rules.”

The hu­man fig­ures in Low’s mixed me­dia draw­ings are al­ways very chic. (On the next page, they’re dressed in – from left – Coach, Miu Miu and Saint Lau­rent.) They can also be rather creepy, plac­ing the 29-year-old – in­ad­ver­tently or not – among the in­creas­ingly trendy league of young, won­der­fully weird artists who dab­ble with the bizarre, and chal­lenge no­tions of beauty. Take a close look at her fairy tale­like char­ac­ters and you’ll realise some­thing off about them, like the sin­is­ter side of Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen (Google it) played up. Com­mon threads through­out her sur­re­al­ism-tinged oeu­vre in­clude dis­qui­et­ing jux­ta­po­si­tions of body pro­por­tions, hu­man/an­i­mal hy­brids and a red string wound omi­nously around these crea­tures. “Sur­re­al­ism al­lows me to ad­dress themes of (the self and hu­man soul) be­cause of (the move­ment’s) gen­eral dis­re­gard for ‘cor­rect­ness’. It be­comes a com­fort­able place for the am­bigu­ous, the out­landish and the vis­ceral,” she says. Etched with her so­phis­ti­cated hand, it’s also nat­u­rally cap­ti­vat­ing. Fol­low­ing Od­dlings, her first ex­hi­bi­tion at The Sub­sta­tion in 2015, she was in­vited to show at the high-pro­file Airspace Projects gallery in Syd­ney. Last month, her works were dis­played at the in­de­pen­dent Keep Con­tem­po­rary in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, and will be in the spot­light again at a pri­vate show­case here this month. Alessan­dro Michele, call her al­ready.

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