“Berdakwat”: 7 emerging Singaporean ink artists

Art Radar introduces 7 young ink artists presented by Singapore’s Chan Hampe Galleries in August 2016.

Featured in a group exhibition from 5 to 21 August 2016, the seven emerging Singaporean artists use ink with a distinctive identity and style.

 Sharmaine Pang, 'Goldfishes', 2016, ink and thread on tracing paper, 37 x 37 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Sharmaine Pang, ‘Goldfishes’, 2016, ink and thread on tracing paper, 37 x 37 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

The exhibition “Berdakwat” at Singapore’s Chan Hampe Galleries commemorated the Malay term berdakwat, which means ‘ink’, in the hopes of acknowledging the traditional and artistic take the medium has on art through conventional form but yet distinctive and contemporary themes. In “Berdakwat”, seven young artists from Singapore formed new and diverse creations with just the use of pens, brushes or other experimental tools. The development of ink has seen centuries of transformation, spanning across regions of the world from calligraphy to painting.

Yeo Jian Long, 'Paracosm Red', 2015, Archipelago ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore

Yeo Jian Long, ‘Paracosm Red’, 2015, Archipelago ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore

Syamil Dasuki, 'Untitled I', 2015, ink on paper, 29 x 20 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Syamil Dasuki, ‘Untitled I’, 2015, ink on paper, 29 x 20 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

While the application of this traditional, versatile medium is still being used in the same way – such as block printing, drawing, painting and sketches – it is the execution that has developed and transformed over the years. Henceforth, the “Berdakwat” exhibition was an event that illustrated the modern appeal to a simple and common art material by transforming it into something with such deep expressions. Through this event, Chan Hampe Galleries hosted the opportunity to encourage and promote emerging Singaporean visual artists by enlightening their unique contemporary twist on a traditional art medium, through their exceptional qualities of draftsmanship.

Art Radar highlights the profiles of the seven young artists seen in the exhibition.

Shazwany Aziz, 'Happy Adjectives I', 2016, block- printing ink on paper, 42 x 59.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Shazwany Aziz, ‘Happy Adjectives I’, 2016, block- printing ink on paper, 42 x 59.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

1. Shazwany Aziz

Shazwany Aziz (b. 1985) is a mixed media visual artist who has earned her degree in Fine Arts at  Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore. She has exhibited in a number of local events and has been featured in magazines like D+A (Design and Architecture) and media outlets like Culturepush. Her work is influenced by the unknown realms of everyday forms and the delicate balance of movement and abstract expressionism. Through experimentation, Aziz has developed a unique unison of ink and formation by merging printmaking, drawing and, on occasion, videography to illustrate her modern vision of art in relation to surreal displacement.

Syamil Dasuki, 'Untitled V', 2016, mixed media, 29 x 29 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Syamil Dasuki, ‘Untitled V’, 2016, mixed media, 29 x 29 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

2. Syamil Dasuki

Syamil Dasuki (b. 1990) is a sculptor who graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), and has participated in several group exhibitions. His work is also displayed both in private and public collections. Taught in the traditional techniques of sculpting, Dasuki mentioned that he will always cherish the lesson of appreciating the use of his hands. Dasuki’s work usually is a depiction of his fascination with the procreation of the human form – an expressive approach which has granted him prolific art shows in the past. In “Berdakwat”, however, Dasuki illustrated a different approach embodying ink art with the absence of human imagery.

Koh Liang Jiang, 'Nomad's Land Series - Canyon Crossing', 2016, ink on paper, 43 x 47 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Koh Liang Jiang, ‘Nomad’s Land Series – Canyon Crossing’, 2016, ink on paper, 43 x 47 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

3. Koh Liang Jiang

Koh Liang Jiang (b. 1993) is a renowned local ink and acrylic artist also trained in Fine Arts at Nanyang Academy. His work comprises micro-detailed architecture and landscape drawings combined with a euphoric touch of fantasy and creativity. Inspired by the wonderment of daydreams and reverie, Jiang uses ink art to depict the sleek silhouettes of an imaginary world co-existing with the real world. He expounds:

My influences are mostly legends and stories from ancient mythology, as well as science fiction, where I often find similar and relevant themes to the current age […]. The recurring question of ‘what if?’ is the prime principle, which my invented worlds embody.

Amanda Lim, 'Three Bears (Discovery)', 2016, ink on paper, 66 x 50 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Amanda Lim, ‘Three Bears (Discovery)’, 2016, ink on paper, 66 x 50 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

4. Amanda Lim

Amanda Lim (b. 1993) specialises in the visual language of drawing and painting. During her studies as a graduate at Nanyang Academy and Loughborough University, she began to delve into imaginative forms of expression to depict her own personal experiences. In her latest work, Lim recalls the traditional fairy tale by Robert Southey, The Story of The Three Bears. As a form of psychological release, the artist uses the fairy tale as a means of surmounting personal fears, anxiety and conflicts by retelling the story through her own personalised vision.

Melissa Ngien, 'Below Surfaces I', 2016, ink on paper, 56 x 56 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Melissa Ngien, ‘Below Surfaces I’, 2016, ink on paper, 56 x 56 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

5. Melissa Ngien

Melissa Ngien (b. 1994) is an ink artist with an eye for complexity and detail. The NAFA and Loughborough graduate has developed a style that is centred on nature in all its allegoric essence. From gaunt carcasses resting on a wreath of flowers to micro-detailed butterflies fluttering along their resting nest, Ngien’s subjects range from those depicting an atmosphere of happiness juxtaposed with those carrying a subtle reference to the suddenness of death and sadness. Ngien uses ink and brush with the meticulous technique of a miniaturist, detailing each little vein in a leaf or a feather, and light and shadow contrasts learned from chiaroscuro.

Sharmaine Pang, 'Skulls', 2016, ink and thread on tracing paper, 47 x 47 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Sharmaine Pang, ‘Skulls’, 2016, ink and thread on tracing paper, 47 x 47 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

6. Sharmaine Pang

Sharmaine Pang (b. 1992) started her art career at NAFA where she graduated in Fine Arts. Trained as a painter, Pang actively experimented in enhancing her skills by incorporating other media in her artwork like ink, which adds vibrancy and colour, as well as the use of thread, creating a soft raised look of intertwined lines and shapes. Pang’s use of transparent paper, allowing for different layers of lines to show through the surface, also adds depth and a sense of three-dimensionality. Her work results in a hybrid of drawing, painting and embroidery, which give her patterned tableaux the appearance of meticulously detailed handmade textiles.

Yeo Jian Long, 'Paracosm Blue', 2015, Archipelago ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

Yeo Jian Long, ‘Paracosm Blue’, 2015, Archipelago ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore.

7. Yeo Jian Long

Yeo Jian Long (b. 1983) has achieved his degree at NAFA, where he perfected his artistic practice in drawing and etching, blending the two styles of Chinese ink and Western Romanticism. Long uses ink to build layers of lines to create depth and chiaroscuro giving the artwork a textured and enhanced look. When it comes to ink art, the artist shows no boundaries or guidelines as to what can be created. He explains:

Paracosm is a series of pen and ink drawings which started off as creative experiments. To an artist, the act of drawing is an obsessive activity. It entails making a mark; line by line. It eventually becomes a repetition, a meditation on what lines can form. I am also intrigued by a singular notion: with just lines, can one create a universe that can hint at boundlessness, at infinity?

Kenesha Julius

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Related Topics: Singaporean artists, ink art, drawing, painting, emerging artists, gallery shows, events in Singapore, profiles

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