'Papa' Pez dispenses sagely advice

Jeffrey Koh

Founder of Flabslab

REMEMBER those handy Pez candy dispensers with cartoon heads such as Mickey Mouse on them? Well, now a Singapore artist has created large sculptures in the shape of those ubiquitous candy dispensers - but with the head of Lee Kuan Yew on them.

Explaining its concept, Jeffrey Koh says, "The head lifts up, and reveals a quote from his past - it's like he's dispensing advice, instead of candy."

Mr Koh is the founder of Flabslab, an art gallery-cum-toy workshop. Working with artists to create artworks based on Flabslab's ideas, it created seven series of sculptures and paintings inspired by Mr Lee, with prices ranging from S$950 to S$2,200.

Mr Koh was struck by inspiration while in the shower. He had come across some political sculptures made by Indonesian artist Budi Nugroho and wanted to create something like them, "but with a twist".

Collaborating with Mr Nugroho, the Flabslab team created the sculptures of the Pez candy dispensers titled Papa. Standing at 55cm, the head is made from resin, while the base is acrylic.

The project took half a year to complete, as it is "hand-sculpted, not 3D-printed". Mr Koh sent Mr Nugroho photos to base the piece on, but he was unable to find photos of the back of Mr Lee's head. He laughs, "Budi had to imagine how it looked based on side profiles, and then we took a bit of creative liberty!"

The idea worked like a charm because the entire Papa series was sold out. Flabslab subsequently created other series of works, including paintings of Mr Lee created in the manner of Van Gogh's swirly brushstrokes.

On why he chose Mr Lee as the subject, Mr Koh says: "It's a tribute, but also serves as a reminder, as most of the millennials have no idea what he's done. We can't deny the fact that he's the founding father of modern Singapore."

Mr Koh says he is apolitical but has a strong regard for Mr Lee's contributions to the nation. He says: "Like it or not, without him, we'd probably be a fishing village."

The Whiter than White Collection is priced at S$950 each, and is available for sale through Flabslab's Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/flabslab


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