Wednesday, 23 April, 2014

Published December 20, 2013
Knock-out contemporary art shows
HELMI YUSOF rounds up the shows that had the greatest wow factor
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Dancers in the dark: Japanese art collective Team Lab's roomful of hologram musicians (above) who sing and dance spiritedly when motion sensors detect human presence in the room 

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Singapore Biennale 2013: If The World Changed

On until Feb 16 at the Singapore Art Museum, SAM at 8Q, National Museum of Singapore and other locations

ALTHOUGH the show is curatorially uneven on the whole, there are still some superb contemporary artworks to be seen at the Singapore Biennale 2013. They include Leslie de Chavez's stunning painting about environmental destruction, Toni Kanwa's 1,000 minuscule hand-carved figurines, and Royston Tan's haunting eulogy to the long-closed Capitol Theatre. The one work that everyone raves about, however, is Japanese art collective Team Lab's roomful of hologram musicians. These holograms start to sing and dance spiritedly for you when the motion sensors detect human presence in the room.


By Ho Tzu Nyen

At Michael Janssen Gallery

THE best solo show in a private gallery is Pythagoras by leading Singapore artist Ho Tzu Nyen. Ho transformed the gallery space into a massive, multi-sensory installation that puts forth a sharp critique of the power structures in the country. At the centre of the installation was a curtain that mechanically drew back to reveal more curtains, and then more curtains. It echoed the video on the adjoining wall showing a scene from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and friends discover that the "great and powerful wizard" is just a man pulling levers behind a curtain.

Lost To The Future: Contemporary Art From Central Asia

At the Institute of Contemporary

Arts Singapore

THIS impressive survey of works from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan explored the complex transition Central Asia faced following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Ranging from videos to sculpture and paintings, the strong artworks by 12 leading artists conveyed confusion, anger, humour, hope and hopelessness.


By Jakkai Siributr

At Yavuz Fine Art

CURATED by Iola Lenzi, Thai artist Jakkai Siributr's astounding solo exhibition featured a room filled with more than two dozen military forms embroidered with faces of past and present Thai leaders. Against the country's history of political turmoil, they asked the viewer to contemplate what these leaders have really done for the country.

Ghost: The Body At The Turn Of The Century

On until Dec 31

At Sculpture Square

GHOST boasts potent works by 13 artists that look at the human body as represented in contemporary art. They include almost 90 images of nude female bottoms shot by Amanda Heng, as well as Eric Khoo's artistic installation of Mee Pok Man, his breakthrough film about one man's obsession with a prostitute. But the show's coup is Loo Zihan's documentary installation on the Artists' General Assembly, which recounts in extensive detail the single most important traumatic event in Singapore's art history - Josef Ng's symbolic 1993 snipping of his pubic hair that led to a public uproar and the decade-long ban on performance art.

Mise-en-scene: Elysian Fields

By Ina Conradi Chavez

At the Substation

THIS ravishing, multi-sensory animation installation by Ina Conradi Chavez depicts a war pilot who enters a strange limbo after his plane is shot down. Beautifully illustrated and scored, few animations in this writer's memory have presented a more hypnotic meditation on mortality.

Encounter: The Royal Academy In Asia

At the Institute of Contemporary

Arts Singapore

WORKS by Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Sopheap Pich, Jose Legaspi, Ian Woo and 45 other artists were assembled for this first-in-Singapore exhibition by Britain's famous Royal Academy of Arts.

The End Of History

At an undisclosed location

CURATOR Alan Oei delivered his swansong exhibition for Huang Wei, a fictional World War II era painter whose obsession with the Old Masters like Caravaggio and Velazquez inspired him to paint maimed children in eerie, chiaroscuro compositions. What makes the show especially memorable is its setting in a pre-war shophouse where various characters appear to recount the life of Huang.

The Collectors Show: Weight Of History

At the Singapore Art Museum

THE third edition of SAM's annual Collector Show was another knockout - assembling nothing but the best Asian art in private collections around the world. The spoils included works by Moontien Boonma, Zulkifli Yusoff and Sakshi Gupta.

Black Forest 2013: Han Sai Por

At Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

Galleries 1 and 2

On until Jan 12

AT the age of 70, acclaimed sculptor Han Sai Por is still going strong, proving it with this exhibition of dark new works that reflect on man's reckless treatment of nature.

Note: Unless stated, the shows have closed