Artist Kairullah Rahim considers the potential of communal spaces in Singapore.
Art Radar takes a closer look at Kairullah Rahim’s diverse creative practice and his new work in “next Sunday”, on show at Singapore’s Chan Hampe Galleries.
From 6 to 30 October 2016, Chan Hampe Galleries presents a solo exhibition by Khairullah Rahim at the space SHOPHOUSE 5 in Singapore. Bringing together a number of new works, “next Sunday” draws inspiration from the landscape of communal parks in Singapore. It includes a range of works from paintings and sculptures to photographic documentations.
On Sunday 23 October there will be an open house and artist talk, moderated by artist, lecturer and consultant Adeline Kueh, at SHOPHOUSE 5. The exhibition will be accompanied by texts from critic Samantha Yap and well-known Singaporean writers Cyril Wong and Euginia Tan.
Painting at the heart of Rahim’s creative practice
Rahim works across a number of media, ranging from painting to sculpture, installation and video; but in spite of this diverse practice, an appreciation for painting remains at the heart of what he does. He explains to Art Radar the appeal of the medium:
Painting has always been one of the mediums that I was first drawn towards […] in 2012 when I was doing my undergrad studies after National Service, I remember vividly being strongly encouraged to explore the possibilities in adopting other mediums in my art-making process. Having said this, I still believe that the sensibilities in my sculptures and photographs are heavily influenced by my paintings. They are still very similar, just no longer paint on canvas.
Rahim was formally trained in painting at LASALLE College of the Arts in partnership with Goldsmiths College of London. He has exhibited in a number of group exhibitions and his work has been showcased in exhibitions and art fairs abroad in Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Turkey, USA and Japan. He has participated in residencies such as YOUKOBO Art Residency in Japan and at INSTINC Gallery in Singapore, and he is currently a lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore.
The themes in Rahim’s work often relate to stories of the marginalisation of minorities in Singapore. He highlights these rarely told topics, mixing fact, fiction and personal experience to create works that encourage open dialogue.
The limited space of Singapore
Space in Singapore is limited and so it is perceived as a precious resource. Public parks serve as a sanctuary where space is enjoyed and shared. On Sundays these public spaces are turned into a unique environment where communities mingle over picnics and cricket matches.
The exhibition delves into the meanings and potentials of these landscapes. Rahim references the 1990s hit Malay pop song Memori Daun Pisang (‘Memories of Banana Leaf’), to explore sentiments of both longing and belonging wrapped up in the concept of public parks in Singapore.
When explaining the relationship people have to property in Singapore, Rahim explains that “the line between private and public is more layered than what we think.” Property ownership regulations are very strict in the island nation, which inspired Rahim to question what happens to those who can’t afford a private space of their own. Where do they go? He goes on to explain the importance of public spaces:
Public spaces like communal parks and swimming pools are spaces of quiet potential, charged with metaphorical and symbolic meanings. In my observation, parks such as Chinese Garden serve as a sanctuary for various communities to enjoy each other’s company. Every Sunday, recreational activities such as picnics by the lake and the spectating of cricket matches on the expansive fields, transform this otherwise idyllic space into a unique microcosm.
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