Playing With & For The Community
by Daphne Ang
“Drawing as Form” deals with the evolving narratives and trajectories of drawing as a method of art making. Being the most primordial and fundamental form of art, it is intrinsic to an artist’s palette of skills.
This exhalation by The Artist Village (TAV), co-presented by Sculpture Square and curated by artist-curator Jeremy Hiah, is an edgy and intriguing sequel to the “Drawing Show”, one of the early TAV projects that was held at the Jalan Ulu Sembawang space in 1989. TAV also held a “retrospective” hosted by the Singapore Art Museum in 2008.
It is a confrontational, anarchic voyage visual phenomenon that challenges the notion of drawing being merely a medium cloistered by the constraints of two dimensionality. “Drawing as form”‘ also de-constructs the orthodox definition of the act of drawing, be it with a pencil, charcoal or mere doodling. “Drawing” by today’s definition, is an ever-morphing term that should not be constrained by its dictionary definition meaning and thus should be re-interpreted with a free-spirited autonomy.
This departure from two-dimensionality is illustrated, with astute acuity through a wide range of visually stimulating and unnerving works of a high intellectual caliber, featuring artists Chen Guang Feng (China), Chun Kai Qun, Mideo M Cruz (Philippines), Jeremy Hiah, Joo Choon Lin, Koh Nguang How, Kai Lam, Urich Lau, Lee Wen, Paisan Plienbangchang (Thailand), Bruce Quek, Ezzam Rahman and Angie Seah.
Upon entry through the gothic arches of Sculpture Square’s facade, one is immediately confronted by a chalkboard reminiscent of our primary school days before the “advent” of the glossy white board and magic board markers. The artists playfully doodle and sketch kitschy images with child-like abandonment. We are thus confronted with the idea that the exhibition intends to bring us “back to the old drawing board”
A visual feast of objects of three dimensionality and a myriad of motifs, objects, installations and moving images pervades the chapel gallery. The expectation that an exhibition about drawing should ideally be purely of two-dimensionality instead features pre-dominantly 3D works and installations is immediately debunked and striked off the ”drawing board”. A deep-seated sense of the poetic and the performative pervades the space of Sculpture Square’s Chapel Gallery. The works are a coalescence of the avant-garde, the abstract and the kitsch.
A canvas of monumental proportions is suspended horizontally across the ceiling of the chapel gallery. It is a work by artist-curator Jeremy Hiah and is probably the only work in the entire exhibition which is executed employing the act of drawing in its original essence. Mutated creatures birthed from warped imaginary worlds conceal subtle political emblems.
Juliana Yasin and Ranger Mills installation is a rendition of a Leonardo Da Vinci’s clockwork car and self-propelled vehicle. Varying paintings of horizons in different hues are cleverly attached to the self-contained bicycle-like vehicle. This installation cleverly encapsulates the diverse articulation of alternative modalities of understanding of drawing in its most basic form.
Chun Kai Qun’s installation assimilates viewers into a mocked up a section reminiscent a toy department that included pristinely packaged nifty “drawing tools” that resembled gadgets and weapons, alluding to the maxim, ”the pen is mightier than the sword”. “Kai Qun proclaims to “Destroy all Drawings!” and ”Be a Pencil Marksman”
Kai Lam’s duct tape portrait of J.B Jeyaratnam is a heartfelt tribute and homage to Singapore’s unorthodox hero.
Suspending in front of the chapel’s sanctuary, a statuesque resemblance of a Chinese brush painting wall scroll hangs from the vast ceilings of the gallery, preserving the remnants of Lee Wen’s performance, “Zen for Head, Clay and Leg”. A trial of clay stains being hauled across the scroll canvas culminates into a block of clay at the foot of the bottom of the scroll. The nuances and meanders of the earthy clay stains that streak across the scroll almost resembling fecal remains, is perhaps a satirical parody of classical Chinese ink brush paintings. A post-performance documentation video with a background sound reminiscent of Asian string instruments pervades the space with a certain uncanny and unsettling aura.
Chen Guang Feng’s wire installation (that is actually wired up to a main power socket), playfully creeps across the corner of the walls and onto the gothic windows like wild vines.
Although the title of the exhibition does not encapsulate the formal nature of the works presented, perhaps its title was a purposeful intention to be a paradox, toying with the idea of bypassing the medium-centered definitions of “drawing” as a medium and a form.
An air of structured chaos and unsettling tumult that resonates after exiting the gallery is an assertion that The Artist Village is still very much alive.
*photos taken by Patchaya Proud Khomna