Tag Archives: exhibition

Art Journal: KAWS Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, NGV International

“It’s just a combination of letters I liked. And when your whole art’s based on the lettering you choose, you kinda figure out what ones work together. I just liked the shapes of the k, a, w, s. It has no meaning.” -KAWS aka Brian Donnelly

Brian Donnelly, or you might be more familiar with his “artist” name, KAWS, is a New York based artists. His works span from traditional painting, giant sculpture, murals exhibited all over the world in a public space as well as in a gallery space. In my opinion, KAWS arts are not limited to the stereotypical art box, he certainly pushes the boundaries of what art can be. When a random giant Mickey Mouse-like giant inflatable sculpture floats around Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, you know his artwork goes beyond the white walls of a gallery.

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KAWS most certainly tapped into the pulse of current trends and society, his artworks speaks to current generation in a way that perhaps no artist have done before. Alongside his exhibition in National Gallery of Victoria, KAWS created limited edition T-shirts design in collaboration with Uniqlo. The small act of adding a line of fashion merchandise in collaboration with the exhibition’s sponsor caused a relatively small chaos on the 4-storeys Uniqlo store in the centre of Melbourne CBD. The hype beasts are all out and ready, lining up for hours to get their hands on these limited edition T-shirt because they know the re-sale value of any KAWS merchandise can be absolutely ridiculous.

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Yes, Astroboy, I totally agree with your expression here. Face palm indeed. It might a phenomenon I will not and to some extend, do not care to understand. I wonder if half of these hype beasts even enjoy KAWS, the artist, or do they perhaps know him as a designer. Perhaps the same way they know Virgil Abloh of Off-White. His exhibition in National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, is quite conceptual and showcases many of his famous works. The curator had done an amazing job arranging KAWS artworks, from the beginning of his “graffiti” on advertisements to his larger than life sculpture he created exclusively for this exhibition.

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Is it art? Is it a mere imitations? Is he a genius? Is he a mere copycat who banked on the phenomenal success of other creatives? These are some of the questions I walked away with after my visit to the exhibition. The artist, Brian Connelly, does not seem to pay too much fuss of what you think about his work. Perhaps similar to the way he choose his “artist” name, maybe he just creates and not put too much meaning into his creations.

-k

Art Journal: Spending the Day with Haring and Basquiat, NGV International Melbourne

“I didn’t start doing graffiti until two years after I got to New York. Jean Michel Basquiat was one of my main inspirations for doing graffiti. For a year, I didn’t know who Jean Michel was, but I knew his work.” – Keith Haring

When I first move to Melbourne in 2000, I was a naive 13 years old girl with completely glazed eyes and excitable emotions, arrived at my first Australian school being offered various subjects that she could only dream off learning back home. Fine Arts was one of those subject. During my time in Jakarta, I did so much painting and drawing classes, that I get quite good at it and fell in love with it completely. Art class in Melbourne means more exposure to international artists whose names I only ever read in my Encyclopaedia books. Keith Haring was one of those names that were introduced to me through an art class project. I remembered clearly how we were told to pick an artist and reproduce painting inspired by their body of work. For whatever reason, I was drawn to Haring’s work and thus begin my interest for various other New York artists such as, Andy Warhol, Basquiat or Grace Jones (her androgyny fascinates me).

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National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International latest exhibition, Basquiat/Haring Crossing Lines, has got to be the most exciting things to have happen right now in Melbourne. Walking into a scene of Basquiat spraying words on a New York city’s wall, passing a news footage of Haring’s many arrest for painting on a blank advertising board, the anticipation of what’s to come build up slowly. The gallery’s white walls were filled with intertwining works by Haring and Basquiat, walls of curated story lines inspiring and perhaps, inciting a rebellious streak in all of us who visits. Cartoon like characters, random drawings of masked figures can be interpreted as shallow and irrelevant in our current society. But one can’t under estimate the strength of characters and messages behind each purposefully drawn figures that we, as visitors or passersby, should further unravel.

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While alive, both artists were known to be strong advocates of change, breaking stereotypes and the loudest voice against stigma of having to live with HIV/Aids or simply being of a different race. Can we still say that their works have no relevance in our society today?

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I always thought artists in the past were never just a painter or a videographer or a sculptor. I always thought of artists in the past as visionaries and society’s greatest critics. What is it that they see in or society that we, who lives in it everyday, simply missed? The works of both Haring and Basquiat continues to inspire generations of artists for years to come. Their works might start on the streets of New York, on the subway lines of Manhattan, but their desire to connect with everyone speaks to audience wider than they could have imagine. Even a rapper of South Korean boy group, Bigbang, TOP mentioned Basquiat’s name on his lyrics and who can blame him, cause arts just how Haring & Basquiat wanted and insisted, are for everyone.

-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.

“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.” 

– 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, 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.