THE LO­CAL MO­TION

A look at 12 lead­ing artists and ris­ing stars who have shaped the lo­cal art scene. By Gillian Daniel

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - HARPERS BAZAAR ART -

SCULP­TOR HAN SAI POR

One of Sin­ga­pore’s lead­ing mod­ern sculp­tors and the 1995 re­cip­i­ent of the Cul­tural Medallion in Art, Han Sai Por is best known for her or­ganic sculp­tures ren­dered pri­mar­ily in gran­ite and mar­ble, cre­ated from monoblock pieces of stone. Han’s un­der­stated sculp­tures have a med­i­ta­tive quiet­ness through which she ex­plores the fraught re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and na­ture. Stud­ies in ele­men­tary forms, her mono­liths ex­plore ideas of pres­ence and sim­plic­ity, and ex­am­ine the fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics of sculp­ture by em­pha­sis­ing mass, ma­te­ri­al­ity and tac­til­ity. Her sculp­tures can be found in nu­mer­ous pub­lic and cor­po­rate spa­ces in Sin­ga­pore in­clud­ing the Es­planade and Changi Air­port. In the con­text of these busy city spa­ces, Han’s unas­sum­ing or­ganic works en­cour­age view­ers to pon­der the del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween the nat­u­ral and the ur­ban, re­assert­ing that man is very much a part of na­ture and not apart from it. Visit www. han­saipor.com

IN­STAL­LA­TION ARTIST STEPHANIE JANE BURT

Ex­plor­ing themes of fem­i­nism, moth­er­daugh­ter re­la­tion­ships, and fe­male friend­ships in her works, Stephanie Jane Burt’s prac­tice is in­spired by fem­i­nist texts, and lit­er­ary and cin­e­matic in­ter­pre­ta­tions of these texts. With an acute sen­si­tiv­ity to ma­te­ri­als, her in­stal­la­tions probe themes of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and in­sta­bil­ity through the vis­ual and ma­te­rial lan­guage of the fem­i­nine and the do­mes­tic. At first glance, her con­struc­tions have an at­trac­tive qual­ity, thanks to the use of del­i­cate ma­te­ri­als like lace and fab­ric. A closer in­spec­tion, how­ever, re­veals a sin­is­ter el­e­ment of threat that comes through as a re­sult of the frailty of her ma­te­ri­als and how they are flim­sily tied to­gether. Her struc­tures re­call the frag­ile fe­male pro­tag­o­nists in the texts she is in­spired by, who are of­ten plagued by in­ter­nal turmoil. Burt is also the co-founder of Bub­ble Gum & Death Metal (BGDM), a fem­i­nist plat­form in­tended to build re­la­tion­ships be­tween fe­male cre­atives. Visit www.stephaniejburt.co.uk

VIDEO/ PER­FOR­MANCE ARTIST HO TZU NYEN

Worki n g pri­mar­ily with the medi­ums of film, video, in­stal­la­tion and per­for­mance, Ho Tzu Nyen is in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing ne­glected his­to­ries. He un­earths for­got­ten strands of folk­loric his­tory that have been ob­scured by of­fi­cial nar­ra­tives. His film, The Name­less, tells the story of Lai Teck, one of the 50 known aliases of the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Malayan Com­mu­nist Party from 1939 to 1947, who served as a triple agent for the French, Bri­tish and Ja­panese. Piec­ing to­gether footage from films star­ring Tony Le­ung Chiu-Wai, who has of­ten por­trayed the role of Lai Teck in his movies, Ho paints a frag­men­tary por­trait of the mys­te­ri­ous agent. Ini­tially com­mis­sioned for the 2014 Shang­hai Bi­en­nale but de­layed by Chi­nese cen­sor­ship, The Name­less was even­tu­ally pre­sented at Art Basel Un­lim­ited in 2016 by STPI—one of 88 to nab a cov­eted spot out of over 200 sub­mis­sions—with Ho be­com­ing the first Sin­ga­porean artist to show at the pres­ti­gious fair.

PAINTER FYEROOL DARMA

Fyerool Darma ex­plores the lim­i­nal spa­ces be­tween his­tory and mythol­ogy by work­ing with al­ter­na­tive nar­ra­tives and oral his­to­ries. Driven by his con­cern about a grow­ing his­tor­i­cal am­ne­sia, threads of vi­o­lence and icon­o­clasm of­ten un­der­pin his work. In the “Moyang” se­ries, which fea­tures por­traits of colo­nial sub­jects and land­scapes from the colonies in the Spice Is­lands, frames are black­ened to look charred. Some are sawn in half, while some por­trait sub­jects have their fea­tures ob­scured by black paint to look redacted. Through the se­ries, Darma poses chal­leng­ing ques­tions about how we have come to un­der­stand Sin­ga­pore’s past. He brings to light the of­ten glossed-over Malay his­tory of Sin­ga­pore, at­tempt­ing to bridge gaps in col­lec­tive mem­ory about the nar­ra­tives that have shaped our past. Visit www.fyerooldarma.com

VIDEO/PER­FOR­MANCE ARTIST MING WONG

The chameleonic Ming Wong im­per­son­ates the he­roes of the global cin­e­matic canon in his witty and ir­rev­er­ent video works. Through his sig­na­ture method of what he calls “im­pos­tor­ing”, Wong ex­plores the many facets of iden­tity, per­form­ing roles from cel­e­brated films that con­spic­u­ously do not cor­re­spond to his des­ig­na­tion as an Asian man. In works such as Me in Me (2013), Wong ex­plores the fa­mil­iar tropes of Ja­panese cinema, em­brac­ing and even ex­ag­ger­at­ing mis­align­ments in gen­der, lan­guage and eth­nic­ity to tell the sto­ries of three Ja­panese women from dif­fer­ent eras. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the trail­ers is doc­u­men­tary footage of the artist’s process in be­com­ing these char­ac­ters. What is high­lighted is the dis­so­nances in be­com­ing, as Wong’s gen­der mis­cast­ing, fum­bled at­tempts at phys­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion and speech er­rors en­cour­age view­ers to in­ter­ro­gate how iden­ti­ties and stereo­types are cre­ated and en­forced. At the 53rd Venice Bi­en­nale in 2009, Wong be­came the first Sin­ga­porean artist to be awarded a Spe­cial Men­tion for his work Life of Im­i­ta­tion at the Sin­ga­pore Pavil­ion. Visit www.ming­wong.org

PAINTER JANE LEE

Jane Lee first came un­der crit­i­cal spot­light in 2008, when her work Raw Can­vas was fea­tured in the Sin­ga­pore Bi­en­nale cu­rated by Fu­mio Nanjo. Her works ex­am­ine the medium of paint­ing it­self, in­ter­ro­gat­ing the el­e­men­tal com­po­nents of a paint­ing, in­clud­ing the stretcher, the can­vas and the paint it­self. With each work, she pushes the lim­its of the ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques of paint­ing. The re­sult is that her works are sen­su­ously tac­tile, blur­ring the line be­tween the two-di­men­sional and the three­d­i­men­sional, be­tween paint­ing and sculp­ture, be­tween ac­tion and in­ac­tion. Her in­no­va­tive paint­ings en­cour­age view­ers to re­flect on the medium’s con­tin­ued sig­nif­i­cance and rel­e­vance in the field of con­tem­po­rary art to­day, where artists are con­stantly ex­per­i­ment­ing with new tech­niques and medi­ums. Visit www.janelee.sg

Ge­net­icPlant, 2015

From left: Sus­pect,A,X, 2017. TipMeOverand PourMeOut, 2017

TheName­less, 2015

Photos of Wong from MeinMe, 2013, shot by Ma­sumi Kawa­mura

Por­traitNo.1(RadenSaleh), 2017

WithinAPaint­ing, 2016

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