Preview: 3 exhibitions to see at Art After Dark, Gillman Barracks, Singapore

Art Radar selects three must-see exhibitions at Art After Dark at Gillman Barracks in Singapore.

Art After Dark will take place on Friday 22 September 2017, coinciding with Gillman Barracks fifth birthday celebrations.

Gillman Barracks 4th Anniversary Celebrations - Art After Dark, 2016. Image courtesy Gillman Barracks.

Gillman Barracks 4th Anniversary Celebrations – Art After Dark, 2016. Image courtesy Gillman Barracks.

Most days at Gillman Barracks are sleepy. Although you will find the occasional gathering of neighbouring tech professionals huddled over ice cream at Creamier, the Singapore visual arts cluster is usually a tranquil escape from the downtown bustle, but not this weekend. This coming Friday on September 22, 2017, Gillman Barracks will celebrate its fifth anniversary with its popular precinct-wide event, Art After Dark.

A regular feature on Gillman Barracks’ lineup of events, Art After Dark is a free event open to the public. It promises a night of live performances by local musicians, pop-up F&B stands, as well as some art. New exhibitions at FOST Gallery, Mizuma Gallery, Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Element Art Space will open that day. NTU Centre for Contemporary Art will host Residencies OPEN, providing visitors with the rare opportunity to peer within the workspaces of the centre’s artists-in-residence.

There will be too much to see and do, especially since the event runs from 7 to 11pm. Art Radar has selected three notable exhibitions not-to-be-missed on your rare trek to the former military barracks.

Guo-Liang Tan, "Ghost Screen", 2017, installation view. Image courtesy Ota Fine Arts Singapore.

Guo-Liang Tan, “Ghost Screen”, 2017, installation view. Image courtesy Ota Fine Arts Singapore.

1. “Guo-Liang Tan: Ghost Screen” — OTA Fine Arts Singapore
8 September – 21 October 2017

Piercing and elegant, Guo-Liang Tan’s solo show “Ghost Screen” draws attention to the materials that make a painting – colour, cloth and frame. Tan is an artist who is not only attentive to what’s on the surface, the spread of paint as it glides across the skin of fabric, but also its skeleton – the wooden backbone that keeps the fabric taut and allows pigment and cloth to become art. He used watered-down acrylic paint to accentuate the texture and ripples of the translucent fabric, and expose the rigid wooden spine. The artist’s hand is almost untraceable in these works. It is like looking at a painting under x-ray.

Guo-Liang Tan, "Ghost Screen", 2017, installation view. Image courtesy Ota Fine Arts Singapore.

Guo-Liang Tan, “Ghost Screen”, 2017, installation view. Image courtesy Ota Fine Arts Singapore.

Tan has long been interested in notions of painting, and began working through these ideas while he was in Glasgow and Frankfurt between 2013-2015. These paintings implore viewers to think of materials not just as a vessel for creative expression, but materials as having their own potential to evoke meaning and emotion. Situated within the gallery spaces of OTA Fine Arts, they provoke an uncomfortable visual experience that oscillates between reality and illusion. The pastel and flesh tones are reminiscent of something figurative; the amorphous forms perpetuate the paintings’ ethereal quality, while the frames anchor them in reality. The difficulty in placing these artworks perpetuates the close observation and engagement with materials that is simultaneously meditative and disconcerting.

“From Pop Art to New Media", 2017, installation view, ShanghART Singapore. Image courtesy ShanghART.

“From Pop Art to New Media”, 2017, installation view, ShanghART Singapore. Image courtesy ShanghART.

2. From Pop Art to New Media — ShanghART
19 August – 22 October 2017

Referencing the 1950s art movement in Britain and the United States of America, ShanghART put forth the group exhibition “From Pop Art to New Media” highlighting seven Chinese artists whose artworks resituate the Pop Art movement in an eastern context. Bold colours, flattened pictorial space, and references to Chinese historical and political icons are some of the visual lexicons of the exhibition, which primarily showcases paintings. Amongst this exciting roster of artists – which includes Ji Wenyu, Wang Guangyi, Wei Guangqing, Xue Song, Zhang Ding and Zhang Enli – is Sun Xun, who created the 3D-animation Time Spy 偷时间的人.

Sun Xun, (left) ‘Some actions which haven’t been defined yet in the revolution’, 2011, 13 pieces of wood printing block, and (right) ‘Time Spy’, 2016, single-channel video, 3D woodcut animation. In “From Pop Art to New Media: ShanghART Group Exhibition”, 2017, installation view. Image courtesy ShanghART.

Sun Xun, (left) ‘Some actions which haven’t been defined yet in the revolution’, 2011, 13 pieces of wood printing block, and (right) ‘Time Spy’, 2016, single-channel video, 3D woodcut animation. In “From Pop Art to New Media: ShanghART Group Exhibition”, 2017, installation view. Image courtesy ShanghART.

The video was made for the second Audemars Piguet Art Commission, first presented at Art Basel Miami 2016 and shown at Times Square, New York City. Sun spins a nine-minute video into a narrative on time, history and memory using a plethora of fantastical imagery. The frames of the video were created using thousands of hand-carved woodcuts. The result is a unique visual experience that combines and juxtaposes traditional Chinese art forms with a popular cinematic experience. 3D animation activates the static woodcut images – giving them volume, depth and movement – while retaining the gestural qualities of a print. Though not as brazenly political as other works presented, Sun’s video encapsulates the potential and ambition of this group of Chinese artists.

Jason Wee, 'Labyrinths (Living Rooms)', 2017, galvanised steel, polyester print, C-print on PVC, teak laminate on plywood, watercolour on cold press paper, mirrors, etched aluminium, powder-coated steel, spray paint, 253 x 187 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Jason Wee, ‘Labyrinths (Living Rooms)’, 2017,
galvanised steel, polyester print, C-print on PVC, teak laminate on plywood, watercolour on cold press paper, mirrors, etched aluminium, powder-coated steel, spray paint, 253 x 187 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

3. Labyrinths: Jason Wee — Yavuz Gallery
17 August – 1 October 2017 (extended)

Dualities permeate “Labyrinths”, Singaporean artist Jason Wee’s outstanding first solo exhibition at Yavuz Gallery. A poet and a visual artist, Wee brings wit, wordplay and earnestness into this insightful body of works. They tread the line between painting and sculpture, and are composed of abstract images and poignant texts. In Labyrinths (Open Fire), Wee includes a black acrylic panel on which the phrase “Give Me Permission to Open Fire” is carved. The phrase calls to mind the horrific incident in which a Facebook user threatened to open fire on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore. It is a chilling reminder that our words have the power to oppress communities that are already marginalised.

Jason Wee, ‘Labyrinths (Open Fire)’, 2017, galvanised steel, watercolour on cold press paper, acrylic panel, chiffon print on plywood, coated steel, 200 x 164 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Jason Wee, ‘Labyrinths (Open Fire)’, 2017, galvanised steel, watercolour on cold press paper, acrylic panel, chiffon print on plywood, coated steel, 200 x 164 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

The black acrylic panel is supported and obscured by fences, a recurring theme in Wee’s exhibition. The incorporation of familiar municipal green barriers speaks to the architecture of Singapore’s socio-political landscape – these are the fences that guide our movement but they also restrain us. Calling attention to the double function of these fences, Wee’s exhibition implores viewers to consider one’s relationship to the laws and structure that underpin Singapore society. These fences are not walls; they are not impenetrable. One can choose to yield to or resist them, but one cannot claim ignorance over their purpose or even their existence.

Jean Wong

1863

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