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On the wall: New art exhibitions in Singapore, May 2015

Culture vultures! Looking to soak up some incredible art? Read on for the latest exhibitions popping up around Singapore in May…



Idealistic Imagery   
In Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) latest exhibition, After Utopia: Revisiting The Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art, humanity’s eternal yearning for a better world is examined through Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as artwork from private collections and new commissions. Among the featured artists are abstract painter, Ian Woo, and Donna Ong, known for her immersive installations that transform found objects into dream-like narratives.

Separated into four chapters, the exhibition delves into all sorts of ideals and principles, from an exploration of the garden as a metaphor for paradise lost, to an examination of the ideologies on which nations and societies have been built, to a look at urban planning’s utopian impulse and how its ideals fall short when translated into reality. Lastly, the exhibition reminds viewers that “utopia” derives from the Greek root meaning “no place” and is merely an idealised world that exists only within ourselves. See it until 18 October at SAM, 71 Bras Basah Road.



House vs Home  
To American artist Monica Dixon, space is both a presence and an absence, and it’s the instrument she uses to challenge our perception of our own individual identities. In her new exhibition, A Universal Truth, Monica explores the opposition between who we are and what we are. She does this through a series of seemingly simple images that force us to reflect on the division between the physical space of a house – a structure often taken for granted – and the social constructs of a home. By manipulating space and light, she creates a timeless world with neither man nor machine, desolate interiors stripped of the possessions that give our lives meaning and distinguish a house from a home; and exterior landscapes that depict detailed structures situated on vast plains. In these images, she aims to highlight the idea of the house as a vessel for our distinct identities rather than just meeting a primal need for shelter, making us think about what a home means, and how we we shape the spaces we occupy. See it until 10 June at Barnadas Huang art gallery, 61 Duxton Road.



An Illusionary Tale   
Now on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) is The Leftover Banquet, a solo exhibition featuring 15 works by Zhang Linhai, one of China’s most prominent contemporary artists. Directly inspired by the tragedies of his childhood – his life in an orphanage, his poverty and the physical disabilities he suffered as a result of polio – the Shanghai-born artist explores a haunting world that expresses a range of emotions from sadness and fear to desolation and alienation. The courageous young boy who can be seen throughout the narrative personifies Linhai’s dreams of freedom; in some works, various animals symbolically replace the boy as the hero, perhaps implying a dystopian view of society. Personal and politically charged, each piece blends surrealism and realism, and serves as a commentary on the struggle against inequality, poverty and loneliness, woven in with feelings of nostalgia. See it until 31 May at MoCA@Loewen, 27A Loewen Road.


This story was first published in Expat Living Singapore’s May 2015 issue.