Although young, Zestro Leow is fast catching on to the art scene here. Joining 3 other emerging artists from Japan, this Singaporean artist will showcase his artworks in Dawn of Youth, an exhibition by budding and well-established artists in Kato Art Duo. With his eyes set on ceramic art, he is currently under the pupilage from master ceramists Peter Lo Hwee Min and Alvin Tan Yuan Keat. We interview Zestro to find out more about his artworks and technique behind his craft.
The exhibition also features work from young Japanese print artists: Nakazato Aoi, Tomone Sano and Miyuki Takashima. Scroll down for more information on the exhibition.
1. How would you describe the “Dawn of Youth” exhibition and how do your art pieces fit in.
Dawn of Youth is a debut stage and, as the name suggests, it is also the start of a brand new journey – not just for myself, but also for my fellow young artists from Japan. The term, “Dawn” itself refers to the rise of the sun. To me, this symbolises Japan – the land of the rising sun.
Thus, I believe that my artworks fit in the part where cultures from Japan and Singapore meet.
2. What is it like, working alongside Japanese artists?
The young Japanese artists in this group show have really inspired me with their creations. The different mediums and techniques that they used were amazing, carrying the strong culture & identities at the same time.
3. Where do you think your creativity comes from?
I would say that it comes from the inner-child of me. Until now, I still take in ideas inspired from toys and sometimes, from fashion as well.
4. What art movement or artist would you say influenced your work most?
One artist, I would say that I draw inspiration from is Duchamp. I love how he challenges the value of art – often found in his “ready-made” (an ordinary manufactured object designated by the artist as a work of art) artworks. One example of this is the iconic Fountain, which was one of his most famous works in the twentieth century. In this work, he portrayed the identity of a commonplace object differently – and it was one that tested the conventional aesthetics of art at the time.
Riyoo Kim, a Japanese ceramic artist also connects with me. He is an artist who lives in our era as a contemporary ceramic artist – and, with his practice, comes and infusion of the idea of creations and aesthetic that uses techniques which carry heavy individuality.
5. Are you inspired by anything new?
Yohji Yamamoto. The Master of Shadows is known to be an uncompromising and non-traditionalist sculpture designer with contemporary designs. He is well known for building a ‘masculine armor’ – a shield for the woman’s body. Yamamoto believes that life and creation are inseparable and this has inspired my desire in practicing the Japanese culture of meticulous workmanship.
6. What are your thoughts on being an artist in Singapore?
Being a local ceramic artist, I would say that ceramic arts is really finding it’s foothill in Singapore. If not, there wouldn’t be someone like me – a young man who is able to take part in the art form. There were the people who created a beginning for ceramic arts, and there are also those who will come forward and challenge what we see today.
I only got into the local art scene in early 2015, after my graduation – and I feel that generally, the audience here has been pretty receptive. The increase in the number of art festivals here, show the amount of enthusiasm found in art consumers that are drawn to my work. I started by selling handmade ceramic wares at art markets. Apart from people appreciating my work by bringing them home, one of the greatest joys is when they acknowledge me as a young art practitioner. They recognise my concepts and relate to me – having this connection with my audience is probably my biggest takeaway in the field.
7. If we were going to talk about your art, where would you start?
My current art practice is about exploring and attempting to challenge the idea of functionality within ceramic pieces. Each physical feature of functionality is made obsolete. I’ve been studying my audience through art armets and fairs by selling both art pieces that are functional (like plates and bowls) and non-functional sculptures. From there, I learnt that my audience is mostly drawn to how each ceramic piece can be used in their daily lives. This urges me to make pots and dishes, which are stacked up like sculptures, questioning if their function still remain.
8. What is one word that describes your work?
Details of Dawn Of Youth Exhibition:
Kato Art Duo
Raffles Hotel Arcade
328 North Bridge Road #01-26
6 Oct – 3 Nov 2016
11Am – 7PM