Playing With & For The Community
by Syed Iskandar
SCYA recently teamed up with HOUSE at Dempsey to showcase a Young Artist’s first-ever solo exhibition. Entitled Food & Obsession: A Visual Study of Food and Behaviour, Nataliette’s exhibition was a roaring success, as can be seen on the opening night on the 11th of September, when we saw a hundred-odd guests gracing the event.
Dealing predominantly with digital prints, Nataliette finds her inspiration mainly from her life experiences. However, characteristic of most successful artists, she is able to delicately blend her personal stories with an objective outlook: Nataliette’s artworks seek to critique the social issue of obsession, using food motifs as a representation of desires and ills, of temptations and consumption.
A favourite among the viewers is “Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk”, a literal manifestation of the classic idiom that expresses the futility of regret. Her artwork, however, seems to deal with more than just a transliteration of the idiom. It expresses a certain sense of irony – girl in artwork cries as she pours milk – instead of it being spilt – out of a jug into what seems like an ethereal void. It is this tension between picture and phrase that encapsulates the essence of her exhibition as whole.
Below, Isk does a quick interview of both the curator of SCYA, Jacklyn Soo, and the Artist herself.
1. Of all the artists that SCYA can work with, why did you decide to help Nataliette?
Jacklyn: Nataliette came to SCYA through an open call for Artists to submit their portfolios and at that time, I was looking for someone who had a huge body of illustration works to showcase a solo exhibition at HOUSE and someone who could work with a certain theme.
2. What did you hope to achieve for SCYA by doing this exhibition?
Jacklyn: The goal was to effectively kick-start one of SCYA’s approaches to raise more platforms for unknown or young artists and by organizing small-scale show exhibitions with corporate organizations. SCYA hopes to add another level to the appreciation to the arts.
3. Is there anything different in organising this exhibition than others that SCYA has done?
Jacklyn: The collaborative exhibition is something that both HOUSE and SCYA agreed on to exhibit a visual art exhibition about Food. This exhibition differs from the previous exhibitions in that it is a themed exhibition.
4. Why did you pick House as the location for the exhibition?
Jacklyn: HOUSE was picked as the location because I wanted to curate a series of Food-related artworks and exhibitions with other cafes, restaurants in future and House was the first venue that SCYA looked at as the organization encourages/promotes creativity and Art in their premise.
1. How did you get to know SCYA and why did you decide to work with them?
Nataliette: I saw the call for artists that SCYA posted on farm.sg and decided to send them my portfolio. Shortly after, Jacklyn the curator/organizer of SCYA contacted me about an exhibition space! I couldn’t resist the offer, and that’s how my first solo show came about.
2. How did SCYA help you?
Nataliette: Jacklyn and Billy from SCYA basically showed me the ropes of handling an exhibition, since I was a total newbie at it. From little things like screwing in the hooks to pricing the artworks. They even came down to help me with the setup! SCYA did a fabulous job, I think, judging from the success of the opening!
3. Did you like the location of your exhibition? Did you have any deciding factor in choosing the location?
Nataliette: No, sadly I did not have the choice of location because prior to engaging me, SCYA had already contacted House for a collaboration featuring one of their Young Artists for a solo show. But, I have no qualms about it, because House was a wonderful place to have an opening at!
4. Your artworks are done in digital paintings. Any reason why you choose this medium for this exhibition?
Nataliette: Yes my artworks were created using digital software and are digital illustrations and paintings. Currently this is the medium I’m most comfortable with and work with most frequently, so I think the choosing part wasn’t too hard!
5. The title Food & Obsession tells us a lot about the direction of your artworks. Quick question, what is wrong with being obsessed?
Nataliette: Nothing is wrong with being obsessed, I think obsession is fantastic and that’s what produces the geniuses of the past, present and future! Case in point: if Einstein weren’t obsessed with math and physics, we wouldn’t have his theories nowadays!
6. Severed necks, spiders coming out of punctured necks, and butterflies fluttering out of vajajays – I would say your artworks are quite disturbing. Why the fascination? What or who is your inspiration behind this?
Nataliette: A lot of people have labeled my art “disturbing” or “gory” but that’s just the first impression. If they go a little bit beyond, they’ll see that the art tells a different story. While having some morbidity is my personal aesthetic (the story that each painting or illustration tells most of the time has nothing to do with her head floating above her shoulders), they sometimes do carry a specific symbolism. For example, in Abstinence, which was inspired by and dedicated to my pregnant sister, the butterflies emerging from her vajayjay symbolise her expectancy.
7. The girls in your artworks, they are strikingly similar to each other. Is there a reason behind the similarities in portraying the women in your pieces? Is it a reflection of yourself?
Nataliette: Nah… actually I think it’s just my favourite type of face to draw. Perhaps it shows my ideal of what a pretty face should look like? Because most of my art is inspired by my own experiences or by topics I want to express, the story that each piece tells are a bit narrative, so yeah maybe sometimes some of these girls are in fact an illustration of myself.
8. Any favourites in your works?
Nataliette: My most favourite piece doesn’t seem to be the common favourite judging from the opinions offered by my peers. I like It Was Like This . To people there’s nothing too special about that picture but I very much relate to the meaning of it. It’s a picture about the interaction between strangers when they start knowing each other: you talk to someone for the first time and impressions are made, each person is trying to suss out the other, ignoring the contents of the talking and privately “stripping” each other down, which is why her shirt is gone and her pants are slightly down, and her pose is one of someone talking. Alternatively, the picture can also be interpreted as the nakedness that one feels when telling a secret, making a confession, or expressing an opinion. All of which opens you to judgement. I love duality.
9. What did you aim to achieve with this exhibition?
Nataliette: I didn’t aim for anything, but I am very pleased at how well the opening was received, and seeing my art on the walls, viewed by people, made me very proud! Also I think if SOME people understand the story behind each picture instead of just taking it all in on the surface, and actually can relate to some of my work, I’d feel the most proud.
10. How has this exhibition helped you in your endeavours as an artist?
Nataliette: It has given me the exposure that I have longed for, and exhibiting in a place really makes me feel more like an ‘artist” than just some girl creating silly pictures with her cheapo tablet. Haha.
11. What are your short-term and long-term future plans?
Nataliette: I don’t have any short-term plans except to stay at home like a leech and do more art! As for long term plans… I hope from all this exposure right now, people will start coming to me commissioning me for my art because it’s something I really enjoy doing, so I won’t have to go back to my 9-5 routine!
For more information on the artist, visit her website at http://www.theangryhedonist.com
Isk is a volunteer writer for SCYA. He is random, impulsive, obsessive-compulsive and potentially psychic.