SINGAPORE — Prudential Singapore Eye, a showcase of the best contemporary art by 17 artists hailing from the Southeast Asian island republic, will open at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, on January 17, 2015.
Curated by Serenella Ciclitira (Founder, Prudential Eye), Honor Harger (Executive Director of ArtScience Museum), Nigel Hurst (CEO of Saatchi Gallery), and Tan Boon Hui (Group Director of Programmes, National Heritage Board, Singapore), Prudential Singapore Eye kickstarts an extensive series of “SG50” events to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Singapore’s independence in 2015.
It is also the fifth installment of the “Eye” series of exhibitions showcasing national contemporary art scenes in Asia, collaboratively organized by Parallel Contemporary Art, Prudential, and Saatchi Gallery. Previous editions include Korean Eye (2009-12), Indonesian Eye (2011), Hong Kong Eye (2013), and Malaysian Eye (2014). Chosen from among a pool of 110 submissions, the 17 selected artists for Singapore Eye are Chen Sai Hua Kuan, Chia Ming Chien, Angela Chong, Adeline Kueh, Jane Lee, Sean Lee, Gerald Leow, Charles Lim, Justin Loke, Samantha Tio (Mintio), Kumari Nahappan, Ho Tzu Nyen, Donna Ong, Jeremy Sharma, Jason Wee, Lee Wen, and Yeo Chee Kiong. For ArtScience Museum director Harger, the selection process sought to reflect something of the diversity of artistic practice in Singapore. “The four curators selected works that were compelling, visually striking, and conceptually bold. We were looking for works that expressed the depth and breadth of artistic practice in Singapore. The final result is a wide-ranging survey that covers many of themes we found artists were exploring within their practice, such as identity, history, fiction, as well as personal and national narratives. Consequently, Prudential Singapore Eye is going to be a show which allows visitors to connect with the richness of Singapore’s contemporary art scene.” Although only 17 artists will actually be highlighted in the Singapore Eye exhibition, a total of 60 artists will be included in the Singapore Eye book, a publication that hopes to serve as a milestone reference for contemporary art from Singapore. Amid such diversity, are there any common threads running through the exhibition that might account for a certain distinctive Singapore-ness in the country’s art production? Tan Boon Hui believes that “the sense of a thoroughly urban context and subject for art-making comes through strongly in many of the works, as well as the complex emotional responses of artists to urban change.” “One sees this, for example, in Mintio’s large scale multiple exposure photographs of urban structures of Singapore and other Asian cities. Created without the use of digital manipulation, these works depict the messiness of Singapore’s urban fabric, reduced to fractal-like geometric shapes that give a strong sense of the headiness of contemporary life in Singapore. This same sense of fleetingness is encountered in a more intimate, quiet way through Adeline Kueh’s 'En Passant,' where she ‘performs’ in the old Tanjong Pagar Train station. We were also intrigued by the formalist, abstract paintings of artists such as Kumari Nahappan, Jane Lee, and Jeremy Sharma, where ideas and the evocation of mood take precedence over mimetic representation.”