5 favourite Asian artists showing at the Singapore Biennale:
Exploring the shared histories encompassing East and South Asia, ‘Atlas of Mirrors‘, the title of the fifth edition of the Singapore Biennale, takes visitors on a wonderful journey, giving an insight into the region’s rich cultures, as well as providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and dialogue between countries.
From Pakistan to Japan – and all countries in between, we are shown the artists’ perspectives on the thought of how ‘Atlas of Mirrors positions South East Asia as a vantage point from which to picture our world anew.‘
I visited the Singapore Art Museum last weekend with a friend, and was beyond impressed by the artworks that had been commissioned and thoughtfully curated and displayed around the lovely SAM (one of my personal favourite art galleries in Singapore).
The most interested aspect was the meanings behind the artworks, and the rich stories that had to tell, such as Treasure Island by Balinese artist Made Wianta that explores Indonesia’s colonial past with the Dutch, or The Covenant by Malaysian artist Sharmiza Abu Hassan that reenacts stories from Malay literature with tales of swordfish attacks.
Although I immensely enjoyed the entire exhibition, here are five works that stood out as particular favourites.
Deng Guoyuan – Tianjin, China
Noah’s Garden II. OK, so the point of art isn’t that it’s meant to be fun, but I really enjoyed the immersive experience Deng Guoyuan’s installation – really making you feel like you are part of the artwork. An artificial garden and labyrinth of mirrors creates a feeling of a loss of subjectivity, blurring the lines between what is reality.
2. Hemali Bhuta – Mumbai, India
Growing. You could smell the sweet fragrance of the incense sticks long before you set eyes on Hemali Bhuta’s installation. Reflecting on the Buddist ideas of growth, life and death, human beings are like a single incense stick, forming part of a larger whole that is nature.
3. Han Sai Por – Singapore
Black Forest, 2016. An awesome art work, in every sense of the word, Han Sai Por’s piece takes up the whole space on the third (and slightly hard to find) floor. Investigating the impact of human activities on the natural world, it’s even more prevalent what with Indonesia’s forest fires that have spread harm to not only their own country, but up to its neighbouring South East Asian countries.
4. Titarubi – Yogyakarta, Indonesia
History Repeats Itself. Walking into the dark room, three Dementor like figures dressed in gold cloaks dominate the room. The cloaks are make of gold-plated nutmeg, a spice once worth its weight in gold, and which many wars were fought. The message highlights the history or power referencing European colonialism in South East Asia.
5. Pannaphan Yodmanee – Bangkok, Thailand
Aftermath. This mixed media work including a mural, concrete sculptures and found objects, investigating Buddhist cosmology and modern science and the concepts of change, loss, devastation and inevitable armageddon. She uses both contemporary and traditional Thai art methods to create the heaven and earth that chronicles South East Asian history. I loved the use of modern concrete juxtaposed against the classic stupa shapes.
Header image: Paracosmos by Harumi Yukutake (Tokyo, Japan)