4 young Singaporean artists emerge amid 50th anniversary

FOST introduces a new generation of artists to celebrate Singapore’s 50th Anniversary.

Singapore is enjoying the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2015 and the city-state’s cultural scene is featuring a rich programme of events. Art Radar explores the practices of 4 young Singaporean artists being introduced by FOST Gallery.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of paper cut work (detail), in "You must imagine Sisyphus happy" (6 - 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of paper cut work (detail), in “You must imagine Sisyphus happy” (6 – 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

FOST Gallery in Singapore’s Gillman Barracks launched a series of exhibitions of young Singaporean artists in May 2015. “FOURSIGHT” runs through August and features debut solo shows by artists Izziyana Suhaimi, Ashley Yeo, Luke Heng and Khairullah Rahim. The series is being launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. While it is important to look back at the last five decades, the gallery has taken the initiative to also look deep into the future.

As Stephanie Fong, Director of FOST, told Art Radar:

It is important to nurture emerging talent in any art scene but especially for a young country like Singapore. Artists’ voices are essential in building a country’s national identity and the maturity of the arts scene reflects on the maturity of its country. Therefore it is crucial to ensure that both established and emerging artists’ voices are heard, and nurturing young talent is also part of the important process of renewal and regeneration.

Izziyana Suhaimi, installation view of "The Hands That Remember" (9 - 31 May 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Izziyana Suhaimi, installation view of “The Hands That Remember” (9 – 31 May 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

1. Izziyana Suhaimi

Izziyana Suhaimi’s (b. 1986, Singapore) was the first featured artist. “The Hands that Remember” (8 May – 31 May 2015) revealed her drawings, installations and objects made of thread. It showed the artist veering away from her previous focus on figurative drawing and embroidery, and instead displaying an abstract aesthetic expressed through needlework and tapestry.

Suhaimi holds a BA in Photography & Digital Imaging from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Yet she draws attention to the rich tradition of the sewing and embroidery crafts, and takes her inspiration from ancestral and cultural heritage. Her work carries the traces of hands and of time. Every stitch she makes is part of a process that unfolds as well as withholds a story. On her website, she writes:

Embroidery for me is a quiet and still act, where each stitch represents a moment passed. The building of stitches then becomes a representation of time passing and the final work is like a physical manifestation of time – a time object. Each stitch is also a recording of the maker’s thoughts and emotions.

Izziyana Suhaimi, installation view of "The Hands That Remember" (9 - 31 May 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Izziyana Suhaimi, installation view of “The Hands That Remember” (9 – 31 May 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

She shared with Art Radar the elements that drive her inspiration:

Looking at how other artists and other people in general respond to the world around them, other people’s work, their daily lives, thinking about the what’s happening in the world… I think all of this enters one’s subconscious and comes out in the work we make whether we realise or not.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of paper cut sculpture, in "You must imagine Sisyphus happy" (6 - 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of paper cut sculpture, in “You must imagine Sisyphus happy” (6 – 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

2. Ashley Yeo

Ashley Yeo (b. 1990, Singapore) creates intricate drawings, paper cuts and paper sculptures. She reveals a poetic language through her geometric paper cut sculptures encased in plexiglass, her paper cubes and cylinders featuring fine latticework of flower shapes. Yeo holds a BFA from Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore, a private art university that provides tertiary education in partnership with London’s Goldsmiths College. She also received an MFA from the University of Arts London, Chelsea College of Art and Design (2012) and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lasalle Award of Academic Excellence (2011), Winston Oh Travel Award (2010) and NAC scholarship (Local) in 2010.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of "You must imagine Sisyphus happy" (6 - 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Ashley Yeo, installation view of “You must imagine Sisyphus happy” (6 – 28 June 2015) at FOST Gallery, Singapore. Image courtesy FOST.

Yeo’s debut solo exhibition “You must imagine Sisyphus happy” (5 – 28 June 2015) at FOST explores “the space between longing and post-grieving”. She creates images that express the decaying state of social relations. Imagining her work as a ‘placebo’ for modern society’s malaise, she constructs fictions that encourage us all to keep our imaginations alive – to believe that ‘Sisyphus is happy’.

Luke Heng, 'Blue on Blue', 2015, oil on linen, 170 x 135 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Luke Heng, ‘Blue on Blue’, 2015, oil on linen, 170 x 135 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

3. Luke Heng

Luke Heng (b. 1987, Singapore) creates poetically charged, abstract paintings that express the very act of observing. His debut show at FOST “The Waiting Room” (3 – 26 July 2015) features intense, meditative work that allows the materials to converse with each other. A young artist, Heng seems to have captured the natural, effortless aesthetic and poetic language that modern and contemporary Asian artists have mastered through time. In his work, one might see an influence of Korean Dansaekhwa, with its meditative, solitary monochrome abstraction.

Luke Heng, 'Chassis no.05', 2015, paraffin wax on steel frame, 52 x 39 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Luke Heng, ‘Chassis no.05’, 2015, paraffin wax on steel frame, 52 x 39 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Heng graduated in 2013 from Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore. He has shown in group shows in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Khairullah Rahim, 'Sunday', 2015, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 180 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Khairullah Rahim, ‘Sunday’, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 140 x 180 cm (detail). Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

4. Khairullah Rahim

Khairullah Rahim (b. 1987, Singapore) also graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts in 2013, where he was a recipient of the Future Leadership Scholarship. As the artist explains on his website, he creates “engaging and sometimes challenging stories of the marginalisation of minorities, among other social issues in Singapore” and “contextual analogies for human societies.”

Khairullah’s solo show “If You Think I Winked, I Did” (31 July – 30 August 2015) at FOST features works that portray the particularities of swimming complexes. His compositions are populated by everyday elements, rendered into a dreamy dimension in vibrant colours.

Khairullah Rahim, 'Eye Candy 1', 2015, acrylic and gloss medium on acrylic, 88 x 58 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Khairullah Rahim, ‘Eye Candy’, 2015, acrylic and gloss medium on acrylic, 88 x 58 cm. Image courtesy the artist and FOST.

Khairullah told Art Radar about the Singapore art scene and what he feels is his responsibility as a young artist:

The Singapore art scene has definitely flourished rapidly in recent years. With the emergence of more contemporary art galleries, notable art fairs, and art institutions bringing in “high-quality art” from abroad, both artists and audiences here have also matured. There are clearly more opportunities and platforms for local artists to showcase their work today. Galleries, museums and government bodies are also becoming more inquisitive not only towards established local artists, but younger emerging ones too. As a young artist within the art scene right now, I feel that my responsibility is simply (not so simple in fact) to stay focused in my art-making. I really have not given much thought to “how else an artist can or SHOULD contribute”, other than to continue making good, honest art.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Singaporean artists, artist profiles, lists, painting, installation, sculpture, gallery exhibitions, contemporary art in Singapore

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