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Lo's show features a series of portraits of Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at various stages of his career, culminating in the painting Goodbye. -- PHOTO: MATHAN RAJ
There is also an installation, Onward, which comprises white T-shirts with the word "LIMPEH" emblazoned across them. -- PHOTO: MATHAN RAJ

Goodbye to all that

With her solo exhibition, Samantha Lo, perhaps better known as the "Sticker Lady", seeks to convey a sense of closure.
Aug 14, 2015 5:50 AM

SAY goodbye to "Sticker Lady". Urban artist Samantha Lo, infamous for pasting comical and irreverent stickers on traffic light buttons and stencils on public roads - for which she was sentenced to 240 hours of community service - is ready to part ways with that persona.

She says: "The experience was quite traumatising and I felt like I lost my anonymity with all the media attention, and didn't really feel as comfortable in my own skin."

After spending the past two years exploring different mediums and techniques, the 29-year-old feels "better than ever" and is ready to take on new challenges.

Her first solo exhibition, LIMPEH Show, features a series of eight portraits of Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at various stages of his career, culminating in the painting Goodbye.

The SIM graduate elaborates: "The exhibition seeks to document public perceptions of the man; he was partly a figure of authority and partly a father figure and while I didn't always agree with his methods, he had to give up a lot in his life. Goodbye was about how people felt when he was admitted to hospital and when he passed on - it was all about his humanity."

Along with the portraits, viewers are also treated to an installation titled Onward, which is made up of 10 white T-shirts with the word "LIMPEH" emblazoned across them. The T-shirts were also available for sale on the Aug 6 opening night at S$50 apiece, but have since sold out.

Lo, who has never had any formal art training, began her Lee Kuan Yew portrait series in 2012 with a simple acrylic painting. She has since gone on to diverse mediums to create her other pieces, including collages, mirrors and even eggshells.

She explains: "For Goodbye, I used a few hundred eggs that I bought from char kway teow sellers, and washed, dyed and painted the eggshells by hand. What I use to create is very important to me because it's a part of the whole message as well. The eggshells represent the fragility and humanity that is in all of us, and putting down each tiny piece on to the board individually was quite a therapeutic process."

This exhibition also means a lot to the artist because it shows a different, more measured side to her personality. Instead of a typical work of street art which takes anywhere between two days and a week to complete, the works displayed here took up to two months from start to finish.

She jokes: "It really taught me that patience is a virtue," but adds: "It also showed me that I could really do a lot if I wanted to, and I learnt about myself through the process."

For someone who studied Science at Temasek Polytechnic and Business at SIM, Lo has shown a surprising aptitude for the arts.

She started an online magazine called RCGNTN (read: recognition) in 2009 to serve as a platform for local artists. As she couldn't afford to hire designers, she learned how to do it herself. Through that project, not only did local artists get exposure, Lo herself learned more about their works, which led to her own in-depth exploration of Singaporean culture.

She recalls: "I started asking what our culture was, and collating responses into various projects and street installations. People referred to it as art, but I didn't really think about it that way; it was just something I did. It wasn't until after I was arrested that I wanted to be called an artist because it's a great label, and it enables me to do anything I want."

If there's one thing Lo would like visitors to take away from the exhibition, it's a sense of closure.

She says: "I hope people understand that this is a part of me that I'm saying goodbye to, and they take away that memory of being there and sharing it with me."

As for her future plans, the urban artist has nothing pinned down yet. She says: "I'm planning some research projects, maybe more collaborations in the local scene and getting people to work together. I want to move the local arts scene forward and still have time to meet people in different parts of the world. It's just about living, really."

The LIMPEH Show is on at The Substation Gallery until Aug 22. The exhibition is open from 12pm to 8pm daily, and admission is free.