Thinking of spending an afternoon immersed in beautiful artworks? Read on for the best happenings in Singapore’s museums and galleries this month, from surreal skull paintings to a bigger, better Museum of Art and Design.
A Walk on the Surreal Side
Known for his works exploring public and personal identity, social commentary and international political tensions, Malaysian-born artist Bayu Utomo Radjikin presents his solo exhibition Ada Apa Dengan Tengkorak (“what is with the skull”), a series of charcoal and acrylic-on-canvas pieces. Currently residing in Australia, Bayu is intrigued by wide, endless landscapes – seen in his strong horizontal canvases – that extend his style of figurative realism into the realm of the surreal. Further lending to the earthy feel is the animal horn, a visual metaphor for male power and strength that features prominently in most of the works, its twisted presence both beautiful and burdensome. To Bayu, the horn is symbolic of a king’s crown – an icon of pride, position and responsibility; in this case, it’s the responsibility of being virtuous in life: horn or bone remain long after the flesh is destroyed, just as one’s actions resonate beyond mortal life. See it from 10 February to 8 March at Chan Hampe Galleries, 328 North Bridge Road, #01-21 Raffles Hotel Arcade.
Sculpture fans shouldn’t miss Expose/Exposed, a solo exhibition by Korean artist Cha Jong-Rye, featuring 11 monumental, self-standing and wall-mounted pieces at REDSEA Gallery. Quite unusually for a sculptor, Cha’s chosen medium is wood; in fact, she works with it as if it were clay or paint, layering and sanding hundreds of delicate wood pieces into contours and shapes that seem to have no beginning or end. The resulting works have a natural fluidity and energy that express Cha’s philosophy of the landscape of our lives and the world around us. Presenting her sculpture in the present tense as something that lives and moves, rather than as completed reality, Cha calls on the ideas of creation, infinity and eternity. See it until 15 February. Block 9 Dempsey Road.
The Serenity Within
This month, Dutch photographer Esther van Vechgel presents Double Stillness – her first solo exhibition here in Singapore, which explores the quiet moments of tranquillity within hectic Asian city life. Shooting in Singapore and surrounding countries, Esther uses everyday objects and settings as focal points – a piece of wall or graffiti, or a small alleyway, for example, that one wouldn’t necessarily notice – to offer a different and unexpected perspective. See it from 10 February to 8 March at Artistry Gallery, 17 Jalan Pinang.
Ancient Fantasy – Kukoku Tamura
To kick start 2015 on a high, Japanese art gallery Kato Art Duo has invited the internationally-renowned Kukoku Tamura to launch its first solo exhibition of the year. Ancient Fantasy – Kukoku Tamura focuses on the works of the post-war experimental calligrapher, whose unique fusion of traditional Japanese calligraphy and abstract expressionism has made huge ripples through the art scene. Famed for his thought-provoking, avant-garde approach to capturing Japanese culture, we can’t think of a better match for the Raffles Hotel gallery. Running from 16 January to 28 March. Head here for more information.
New Music Museum
Dedicated to documenting the history of Singapore’s indie music scene, the newly opened Museum of Independent Music (MOIM) serves as an educational and archival space aimed at nurturing local talent and musicians of various genres. Here you can learn about the beginning of the music culture in Singapore and its influence on the community through documentaries and short films, exhibits showcasing historical artefacts and memorabilia, a library of songs and an archive of music-related art pieces. Plus, visitors can learn how to make their own music with the guidance of virtual bands. Visit its Facebook Page to stay tuned in to a programme of monthly musical performances, talks and workshops. 1B Aliwal Street.
Mad for Maps
Sir Stamford Raffles may have founded modern Singapore in 1819, but maps dating as far back as 1602 prove that this little island-state was already playing a major role in trade and politics. In the new exhibition GeoGraphic: Celebrating Maps and Their Stories, visitors have the opportunity to look at the history of Southeast Asia from the explorer’s perspective – and you don’t have to be a cartography enthusiast to appreciate the hundreds of rare and original maps that show just how Singapore and the surrounding regions have evolved over many years. See it until 19 July at the National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street.
The MAD Museum of Art & Design has moved to a bigger (19,000 square feet) and more centrally located home at 10 Tanglin Road, where it continues to present works from emerging Asian artists and play host to shows, exhibitions, events, workshops, talks and more. Check the official website for the programming line-up.
Paintings with Acid
Until 21 February, Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) will present Imprint: New Works by Suzann Victor, a showcase of the Sydney-based Singaporean artist’s creations in print methods that challenge and go beyond the boundaries of print and paper. In a departure from her customary use of theatrical devices, kinetic mechanisms, performance installations and object experimentations with the body, Suzann instead takes an abstract approach to etchings, or “paintings with acid”, while décollages capture her gestures and body movements atop large bodies of paper pulp that have been gradually torn away. See it at STPI, 41 Robertson Quay.
New Creative Arts Centre
10 Square @ Orchard Central, a brand new creative arts space, has opened on the tenth floor of Orchard Central (which was, until recently, merely a car park). The 13,000-square-foot space, which can be hired for events, has a theatre-auditorium, a visual arts studio, a dance studio, three music studios, seminar and conference rooms, and a service-training café called Happy Pancakes that helps raise funds to enable socially and financially disadvantaged youth in Singapore and Japan to pursue arts training programmes. Focused on fostering budding artistic talent in the visual arts, dance, theatre and music, the centre is run by non-profit organisation The RICE Company and features a variety of programmes to teach art skills, as well as business fundamentals like finance, marketing and management. 181 Orchard Road, Level 10 Orchard Central.
Brand new exhibition space LUDO Gallery has opened, offering a platform for designers and artists to showcase their contemporary fine art prints. Launched by graphic design company B6T9 Design, the gallery is the first in Singapore to focus exclusively on limited-edition letterpress, etchings, lithographs, carborundum prints, screen prints, and wood and lino block prints – with strong graphic design elements.
LUDO’s opening exhibition, entitled Cernunnos – inspired by the lunar Year of the Ram and the horned god Cernunnos – presents intaglio, screen and letterpress print works from a selection of both local and international artists. See it from 27 February at LUDO Gallery, 261 Waterloo Street, #02-05 Waterloo Centre.