As an exhibiting artist and part of the organizing team for the group exhibition called DR/OP BEYOND BOUNDARIES, Boo Sze Yang shares, in this video, how the exhibition came about. In addition, he reveals to intersection.sg why he is uncomfortable with assuming the curator’s role, preferring instead, a system that is more unstructured and organic.
The physical setting here is practically an extension of our living room, so it feels more intimate and personal than a regular commercial gallery. With this space, we will organize exhibitions, talks and private events.
– Ning Chong, Founder, The Culture Story.
Not many art spaces can confidently say that they will change the art scene in Singapore. Most are more of the same (More art galleries! More art studios! More community spaces!) which are crucial for growing the small scene but merely an appetiser for those who are already lovers of art. The Culture Story, founded by father and daughter duo Ms. Ning Chong and Mr. Chong Huai Seng, might just be the main course. This is a space for those with more than just a passing fancy for art to come together and realise a community for a deeper understanding of art.
Mr. Chong started collecting in the ’80s, acquiring works from all over the world. After three decades, the substantial collection is now open for viewing by the public. Unlike museums, both public and private, it was love for each work and not museology that guides what is on show. Unlike private galleries, nothing is for sale as each work has already found a loving home: with the Chongs. And this is also most definitely not a storage space: the works are deliberately chosen for show.
Nonetheless, what is on the walls are still works of art, which superficially does not bring anything new to the table. Numerous spaces for private collections like the Chongs’ have already been established in Singapore. However, the highlight is not really the exhibitions per se (every art space has them) but what The Culture Story brings to the exhibition, namely, the social “living room” space. Ms. Ning relates a story of “local collectors in the old days… bring[ing] ink paintings and small canvases to each other’s homes, they drink tea and showcase their latest acquisition and invite their friends to discuss and comment.” The Culture Story can be seen as an attempt to resurrect this past with an important difference: this time, the living room is open to the public. It is a space for art and for art connoisseurs to gather. Anyone with an interest can come have tea, share their opinion on art and expect to hear the opinions of others.
Still, you won’t usually turn up at your acquaintance’s place unless they have a party. The founders of The Culture Story are aware of this and have planned a series of events to bridge the gap between the ‘tentatively interested’ to ‘definitely in love’ with art. These include talks with artists, art collectors and art professionals.
Don’t expect presentations of serious and heavy theoretical papers or highly technical discussions of specific sections of the art market. Instead, these talks are straightforward for now, aiming “to introduce and demystify the art market.” They had their first talk last Saturday, a conversation with Augusto “Gus” Albor, a well-respected and senior artist from The Philippines. Amid laughter, Gus and Ms. Chong revealed the chronological growth of Gus’s beautiful mane of hair in pictures, how life itself affects the work of the artist, the close relationships with collectors and most importantly, Gus’s talent with the flute (he really is quite talented). This was followed up by a long and informal session where everyone had a chance to speak to and get to know the person behind the amazing abstract works that were also on show in the space. The Chongs were also great hosts, flitting between conversations with old friends and new acquaintances. The general ambience was informal, the content elementary yet sophisticated, allowing everyone to head off into in-depth and intriguing conversations after the PowerPoint slide was over.
At the end of the day, of course, what The Culture Story is promoting is a Singaporean life compatible with art. When we come by to have tea, we imagine that this “living room” could also be our living room, a space made sweet and special by art.
If you wish to bring art home, your friends at The Culture Story could help. Beyond the community of existing collectors you can learn from, including the founders, The Culture Story also provides comprehensive support for a collector or collector-to-be. This includes 1. Sourcing, acquisition and de-accession 2. Collections management, namely framing, storage, installation, conservation and insurance needs 3. Artwork commission (e.g. family portraits, site-specific work) 4. Support for corporate art programs. Please do share the works you have acquired with your advisors, though. It is only fair to feed back in to the ongoing conversation of what and how to collect.
The current show, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, includes just 13 Asian artists represented in the Chongs’ collection. It is a sneak peek into decades of passion, promising of the exhibitions to come. The Chongs collect many more, including works by Sydney Harpley, Sergei Chepik, Cheong Soo Pieng and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, which would, hopefully, eventually be visible through quarterly exhibitions.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Anthony Chua, Augusto “Gus” Albor, Han Sai Por, Hong Sek Chern, Hsiao Chin, Iskandar Jalil, Leo Hee Tong, Jolly Koh, Liang Quan, Shi Jin Dian, Wong Keen, Yu Teng-Chuan, Zhuang Sheng Tao
Find out more about the show here.
The Culture Story
2 Leng Kee Road
#03-06 Thye Hong Centre
+65 6924 9742
Open by appointment.
Yayoi Kusama is one of the world’s most influential artists. Known for her iconic dots, nets, pumpkins and infinity rooms, her art has captivated millions all over the world.– National Gallery Singapore
This year’s blockbuster artist at our 2 year old National Gallery Singapore is a anchored by a survey show of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Life is the Heart of a Rainbow. As concisely described, there are lots of dots, big and small and in different colours, making up nets, articulating pumpkins and filling up spaces affectionately called ‘infinity rooms’.
Look out for revealing photographs of Kusama’s time in New York in the ’60s in the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery. They are not artwork per se but are important for understanding the conditions that Kusama was working in.
Particularly fun are photographs of her early experimentations in fashion design. Initially, they were made for her performances and photography. Legend says that one day she had bumped into someone wearing her stolen design on the street. She tracked the pirate dressmaker down and the incident eventually led to the establishment of Kusama Fashion Company Ltd. in 1968. Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation so we cannot buy Kusama wear anymore except at Louis Vuitton, Uniqlo and X-girl. You could get socks at Gallery & Co. on the ground floor of National Gallery Singapore, though.
Kusama’s work is not only shown in the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery but also sprawled across the Koh Seow Chuan Concourse Gallery, the City Hall Chamber and the UOB City Hall Courtyard.
The National Gallery of Singapore is the first to host a major survey of her work in Southeast Asia, a feat that can only be possible with the collaborative support of Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia; David Zwirner Gallery, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, Singapore; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and a significant number of Kusama’s collectors from Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia. Life is the Heart of the Rainbow will travel to QAGOMA in November.
Learn more about the exhibition on the NGS website here.
Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of the Rainbow
9 June – 3 September 2017
Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery
$15 (Singaporeans/PRs) / $25 (Non-Singaporeans)
Gallery Children’s Biennale: Dreams and Stories
20 May 2017 – 08 Oct 2017
Koh Seow Chuan Concourse Gallery
Free (Singaporeans/PRs) / $20 (Non-Singaporeans)
Yayoi Kusama: Dots Obsession
UOB City Hall Courtyard
Free for all
More information about ticketing here.
National Gallery Singapore
1 Saint Andrew’s Road, #01–01
+65 6271 7000
Sundays to Thursdays, 10am – 7pm
Fridays and Saturdays, 10am – 10pm
After Mizuma Gallery’s last Japanese exhibition, The Great Exhibition by Ken & Jula Yonetani, comes Aoyama Satoru and Ken Ikeda with The Age of Disappearance. Like the Yonetanis, Aoyama and Ikeda are dealing with concern about the state of people in today’s society. While the Yonetanis had dealt with visual symbols of a world corrupted by past our actions, Aoyama and Ikeda are taking a more activist stand, pointing out our own investment in further corrupting the present and future.
One of the first things that catches the visitor is the use of UV light in the show. The usual gallery spots switch on and off, providing 2 different views of the works on show. Both Aoyama and Ikeda use invisible ink in their works, which only shows up in the presence of UV light.
With Aoyama, beautifully hand embroidered maps of the world reveal political boundaries when the lights go off, pointing out the invisibility of the difference between people from two countries. The unmarked atlas suggests a world united while the invisible thread shows us the societal fabric that divides us all.
Ikeda also plays with invisibility, using luminous and non-luminous paint to produce documentation after musical performance. Nails hammered at random spots on wooden boards boast unique splash patterns that are enjoyable to look at twice: once in regular light and again in UV light. These modest wooden boards were once connected to a more sophisticated electrical setup to produce experimental music. Rubber bands connect the nails, producing tones when strummed. The paint is distributed by Ikeda’s fingers, which have been stained by both luminous and non-luminous paint. It is an interesting series of work for thinking about action: was it sufficient to think about music (action), or do we also think about the aftermath of music (the boards)? As an additional layer of fun, the boards are two-faced, unable to reveal itself to the viewer in a single look. You do need to look at it at least twice.
The show features many more works, including a few pieces jointly made by Aoyama and Ikeda. As an additional bonus to street art lovers, the work of local artist Anthony “ANTZ” Chong makes a special appearance in several of Aoyama’s works.
There are just 2 more weeks before the show ends. Find out more about the exhibition on Mizuma Gallery’s website.
The Age of Disappearance: Two-person exhibition by Satoru Aoyama and Ken Ikeda
1 July – 6 August 2017
22 Lock Road #01-34
+65 6570 2505
Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am – 7pm
Sundays, 11am – 6pm
27 April – 30 July 2017
Aloft at Hermès
541 Orchard Road
#01-02A, Liat Towers
+65 6738 9807
Daily, 10.30am – 8pm