Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Minimalism: Space . Light . Object. National Gallery Singapore

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor,” – Seneca

The world we live in today crave excess, reward the most extravagant and embrace the worship of material things. And I think some people believe, the more you have, the better. Arts have become one of those status symbol, the object of obsession for those who wants to convey a certain image in our excessive world. Thus the irony of an exhibition glorifying minimalism is not lost on me. This is a continuum of my previous post on Minimalism art exhibition I recently went to in Singapore and unlike part one, this one held in National Gallery Singapore is shouting excess in the most minimalist way.

Housed within City Hall and previous Supreme Court building, the National Gallery Singapore is the largest visual art gallery and museum for the island nation. The building played many significant role in Singapore’s national history, and many of the country’s historical documents are still stored within the building.

Compared to Minimalism exhibition in the ArtScience Museum, this one is much larger in scale and filled with the more traditional form of artworks, dominated by paint work and sculptures. The vast building provides an endless pockets of artwork which begins on the ground floor with Dan Flavin’s installation which resembles New York’s Empire State Building.

The first room that displayed a Rothko (far left in picture above), is accompanied by few other Rothko inspired canvas works. I do believe that Rothko always intended for his works to be displayed in groups, but the difficulties of the task does not elude yours truly, hence the grouping of his work with others is aiming for the same impact. A study of black and every possible shades of it, is perhaps an appropriate theme of this second pocket of artworks. The idea of Rothko expressing human emotions through his work by using only black seems dark and repressive. But what if, we can translate this as a language of positive emotions? How do you talk about black without associating it with negative emotions? If only black is understood as the beginning of something, before any other shades of colour were added.

Many of the artworks displayed are significant but not many captivates me the way Mona Hatoum’s does here (picture above). Appeared to float above ground, the wire is suspended from the ceiling and arranged in such a way to resemble a square. A forest of bard wire box that you can’t escape from. As you walked around the installation, you can’t help but feeling a certain pull towards the centre of the work. Barb wire have longed been associated with boundary lines to keep things out, but in this case, it feels a lot more like an enchantment that wants to draw you in.

What about this mountain of porcelain sunflower seeds made painstakingly by hand from the a small studio of specialists in China, each seeds are unique as with most hand-made work will be. Porcelain work has long been associated with the Chinese civilisation and history, and such an appropriate choice of material for the work that represents the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon. Is it a complimentary work by the artist, or is it a painstaking mockery of the inability of self expression in such oppressive environment? When view from afar, all the seeds looks homogeneous perhaps representing the view of the world of China as a communist nation. But when you look closer, each seeds are unique like that of the Chinese people or even perhaps Ai Wei Wei himself as the artist.

Perhaps it is an accidental silver lining that connects the two exhibitions, ending the show with the works of Olafur Eliasson. The room for one colour is a stark contrast to that of the previously colourful work at the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition. The neon lights that omits all other colour but orange, and with that we are back to black at the end of the exhibition.

-k.

Minimalism: Space . Light . Object. ArtScience Museum, Singapore

“A work will only have deep resonance if the kind of darkness I can generate is something that is resident in me already,” – Anish Kapoor.

Some of the greatest artists in the Art-world happens to be some of the darkest, depressed, lost and confused people of all time. Therefore, to compress the amount of arts under the banner of, “Minimalism: Space.Light.Object”, can be quite ironic. Despite that, Singapore’s ArtScience Museum, in conjunction with the National Gallery Singapore, managed to curate one of the most exciting exhibition on minimalism in the Arts I have personally been to.

Singapore’s ArtScience Museum is located in Marina Bay Sands, the building is an amazing architectural highlight amongst many located around the area. The building reminds me of the lotus flower, was designed by an Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie.

At the time of my visit, aside from the minimalism exhibition, a fun and interactive exhibition created by TeamLAB was on show. The neon filled, colourful and interactive exhibition for children of all ages.

Now on to the “Minimalism: Space.Light.Object”…

Greeted by a giant sand-pit of a zen garden created by Mona Hatoum, I was instantly given a snapshot of what the entire exhibition is all about. As seen in the photograph below of the artwork, the arm moves clock-wise and constantly changing the texture of the sand’s surface. The work can be interpreted in any number of ways, according to each visitors’ understanding. I personally believe that this is the best choice for the first piece, as it symbolises that despite the simplicity of minimalist arts, there are always deeper meaning behind each work.

I adore the pop of colours in the works by Donald Judd and Olafur Eliasson amongst all the lack of them in most minimalist pieces. Eliasson’s installation, pictured below, has got to be my most favourite. The work is colourful and immersive, as you walk around the various neon coloured sheets, your perspective and your sight changed and filtered.

Overall, Minimalism is a well-curated exhibition. The way each artworks are placed in the sequence that have been decided by the curatorial team, gave the exhibition a flow that is easily followed by any visitors with various degree of understanding towards the Arts. Plenty of international names, such as Kapoor, Judd and Eliasson, but also loved that the curatorial team also involved a good mix of artists from Asia, mainly Taiwanese and Japanese artists. Forever grateful to be able to visit Singapore at the right time to see this great exhibition.

-k.

Hyphenated at The Substation

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting an exhibition co-curated by one of my teacher from University. The exhibition focused on the subject of the feeling of growing up and living between multiple cultural influences, in this case Asian-Australian. Asia, in the context of this exhibition includes vast variety of cultural backgrounds.

Hyphenated at The Substation

1 Market Street, Newport

23 March – 21 April 2018

It is called Hyphenated, referring to the “space between” cultures and what it means for each individual artists. Co-curated by Tammy Wong Hulbert and Phuong Ngo. The artists exhibiting are,

  • Rushdi Anwar
  • Sofi Basseghi and Ehsan Khoshnami
  • Andy Butler
  • Rhett D’Costa
  • Tammy Wong Hulbert
  • Nikki Lam
  • Eugenia Lim
  • Hoang Tran Nguyen
  • Slip-Page
  • Vipoo Srivilasa

Still… what is left

Nikki Lam, 2018

Artificial Island (Interior Archipelago II)

Eugenia Lim, 2018

Self-portrait of the artist after Gauguin x Koons x Louis Vuitton

Andy Butler, 2018

Transient Home City

Tammy Wong Hulbert, 2016-2018

Irhal (Expel), Hope and the Sorrow of Displacement

Rushdi Anwar, 2013 – ongoing

Through their works, artists are exploring what it means to truly belong to one specific place. Is there truth in the saying, home is where the heart is? With many social and political issue raised by high influx of refugees, the topic of displacement are also explored within this exhibition.

While exploring the exhibition, I can’t help but to think about my own story. Growing up in Indonesia, settling in Australia with all the usual Asian parental supervisions. I still find myself, time and time again, living in this limbo “hyphenated” world of my Chinese-Indonesian heritage and Australian mind-set. As much as I feel at home in Melbourne, there are periods of time where I miss the rest of my family, my roots, the people that raised me before. The incoming memories of growing up with my extended relatives in Jakarta can hit me and I regret the times that I lost, the time I can’t get back, with them by being here in Melbourne. And then I’ll recall my aunties and uncles constant judgement of everyone,

“Why are you not married?”

“Oh.. you look fat! You should lose some weight”

“You’re so pretty when you were little, what happen?”

Youp! I take living in the limbo between two cultures all day, everyday! Off course, all comments are well-intentioned, perhaps Asians lack the communication skills or social skills to convey their love πŸ™‚ Anyway, I digressed, if you live in Melbourne (Australia), do take the time to visit this exhibition. The works are powerful and pictures just don’t do enough justice of the full effect the sounds and the movements have.

Until next time everyone πŸ™‚

-k.m.

“Mass” by Ron Mueck for NGV Melbourne Triennial

For the last few months, National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) had been running their first Triennial. The NGV Triennial is a celebration of arts for a city that thrive from being the culture capital of Australia. There are both local and international artists involved within the Triennial. The Triennial also showcase variety of artistic expressions, from traditional sculptures to the very modern digital art form of virtual reality experience. As you can tell, there’s something in this for everyone. The most popular, perhaps most photographed artwork in the exhibition, in my opinion will be the following by Ron Mueck called, “Mass”,

Giant skulls piled on top of one another in such a chaotic fashion, it made you feel like you were walking into Giants mass graves. The idea of the piece, for the artist himself, is an artistic commentary on the mass killings throughout the history of civilisation. The artist made a specific reference to event such as the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime, or the Holocaust of the Jews in the hands of Nazi party.

The skulls are large in scale to evoke a specific emotion for us the viewers. The installation catch me by surprise, it is confronting and not the sort of view that I’m used to. For me at least, it felt like walking into a room confronting my own mortality. Death isn’t something any human can avoid, it is a definite final stop in our journey called life. Hence, the confrontational affect this work had over me felt like an eerie reminder.

Despite the grim first impression of this work, there’s a sense of beauty that brings you in. Perhaps, it was the brilliant placements of the artwork. The skulls were located within the Gallery’s 19th Century paintings. It was almost deliberate for the artist to point out, look at all the great legacy of beautiful paintings left by Great Masters. Can you appreciate the beauty of the Old Masters painting through the legacy of terror our generation seems to left behind?

However way these giant skulls installations affect you, the genuine narrative Mueck’s tried to convey through his artwork is honest and confronting for a reason. If you live in Melbourne, I hope you get a chance to see it at the NGV, highly recommended for you to just experience it in person.

-k.m.

Gerhard Richter X QAGOMA

What a remarkable opportunity it is for me to be able to travel to Brisbane recently and witness the amazing retrospect exhibition of Gerhard Richter. The exhibition was held in Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane’s cultural precinct on the South Bank area. It took the gallery 5 years to put this amazing exhibition together, with many artworks are personally loan from the artist’s own personal archive. Richter is known to be experimental with his work, but most known for his Abstract work and his ability to blur the line between a painting and a photograph.

One of the work that completely took me off guard is a black and grey painting of baby Richter and his Aunty. I personally decided not to took a photo of the work, our of respect to the tragic story behind the painting, as well as my selfish reason of wanting to keep the emotional affect the painting had on me to myself. Grey is Richter colour of choice that helped him detached to an emotional experience, aside from his brilliant colourful abstract, his monotone works are some of my personal favourite. Richter’s memento mori series of painting, like the one above called “Two Candle” on loan from Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul – South Korea, are personally, one of the most moving work.

Very grateful to have the opportunity to go and see Richter’s exhibition. The brilliance of his work can be seen in the above detailed photo from one of his Abstract work. Using a sponge, Richter would drag the colours across his canvas, using this technique Richter have created a unique texture to the end result. Considering his age, a sprite 85 years old of age, this exhibition may well be Richter’s last big international exhibition. So grateful is not enough to describe how I’m feeling, but I feel so enrich by the experience and wish many more people are able to experience this amazing exhibition too.

Gerhard Richter The Life of Images

Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia

-k.m.

Hokusai, NGV International


“If heaven gives me ten more years, or an extension of even five years, I shall surely become a true artist.”Β 

– Katsushika Hokusai, c. 1849


Having spent his entire life-time in poverty, Hokusai’s artwork ended up inspiring so many great artist including Van Gogh, whose artworks were also largely unknown until his death. The timing of this exhibition by NGV International was almost too perfect as Hokusai’s followed Van Gogh’s. The current exhibition contained 176 pieces of Hokusai’s works from NGV’s own collection and the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto. Beside Hokusai’s greatest work, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1830-34), this exhibition features Hokusai’s early to mature works, as well as various works with the following themes,Β Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji, Waterfalls in Various Provinces, Remarkable views of bridges, One hundrer ghost stories, Snow Moon and Flowers, A true mirror of Chinese and Japanese Poetry, Eight view of the Ryukyu islands, Birds and flowers, One hundred poems explained by the nurse, Hokusai Manga, One hundred views of Mt Fuji and The life of Shakyamuni (NGV, 2017).

The above painting of Thunderstorm beneath the summit c.1830-34, has to be on of my favourite out of Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji series. The reds are vibrant and such a contrast to the clear sky above.


Photographs can never do justice to the vivid colours Hokusai painted on his wooden blocks. The exhibition were curated according to the different themes set, which helps the exhibition’s flow for visitors. The best time to go to this extremely popular exhibition will be early morning on weekdays. Keep in mind, once it gets busy there are not a lot of room to move or enjoy the works, as the room was divided in a tunnel like maze, which seemed to be NGV’s current mood in terms of exhibition lay out. Perhaps inpired by many European galleries, however I personally feel it to be such disadvantage for art lovers who prefers to roam and wander, as suppose to being lead through. Since The Great Wave is perhaps what every visitors come to see, there were plenty of space given for visitors to roam there. It was a wonderful exhibition to visit and just admire, however considering the smaller roaming space in comparison to the amount of visitors coming in, did made the exhibition less enjoyable. Regardless, worth the visit…


-love K.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Bangkok, Thailand


“Art should be something that liberates your SOUL.” – Keith Haring


Truth be told, one the privillage of traveling for me is to be able to experience new cultures. Places that I love to visit the most while traveling are local market and galleries or museums. Having been to Bangkok few times before, I’m pleased to see the development of the city has extend to a brand new Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Museum is privately own and perhaps not the easiest place to get too. But with the developement and extension of Skytrain line, this place will be easily accessible in a few years. But for now, taxi is the way to go and it was worth the time to visit. The building is five level filled with outstanding work by Thai artists. The ground floor is their temporary exhibitions, while the rest are the Museum’s own private collection of artworks.


Above paintings are self-potraits of the great Thai artists whose work filled the Museum space.


What I gather from roaming around the Museum, as a predominantly Buddhist country, the artworks produced by their artists are influenced by the principles of Buddhism. The idea of life is a suffering, the enlightenement and reincarnation are all reflected in many of the artwork. The below painting is so striking to me when I saw it, as it strips a woman bare of all her worldly possession and asked us the viewers to reflect on what really matters. At the end of it all, we are skull and bones.Β 


The play of colours in the following painting reminds me of the great work of British modern artist, William J. Turner. Such a playful and positive body of works,Β 


One of the floor of the Museum were dedicated to Surrealist arts. I must say, Thai surrealist artists are very unique. As they are still influenced by Buddhist principles, the ideas portrayed in the paintings are familiar. The first thing I noticed were Dali’s influenced in all the paintings, down to the use of eggs as the symbol of universe,Β 


The following painting has to be my ultimate favourite, as it brings so much joy when you see it,Β 


During the time of my visit, I was lucky to see the exhibition on the late King Bhumibol’s life, which was very moving and filled with love and adoration from the people of Thailand to their late King.Β 


The Museum is well curated, they are divided into very enjoyable rooms of organised works of art. Not to mention, very informative security guards that not only direct you to what you should see first, but also a fountain of knowledge in the meaning of some of these paintings.

For more information, check out their website,

MOCA Bangkok

-love K.