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Art within the properties of artists, Arts News & Top Stories

Master potter goes for works with a private contact

Nearly each nook of Iskandar Jalil’s terraced home in Kembangan is crammed with some kind of artwork, working the gamut from ceramic works by the 78-year-old grasp potter himself to items by acclaimed British potter Bernard Leach and Iskandar’s college students Aida Khalid and Agnes Lim.

In a manner, these artworks are artefacts, objects that bear the messy traces of private recollections.

“When I collect (art), I want to know the person. I need to see how he feels,” says the Cultural Medallion recipient who is married to a retired instructor. They have two kids.

In his home, he has three porcelain bowls by the late New Zealand architect and potter David Brokenshire, which skilfully seize the movement of waves.

“He had one of the most unique kilns in the world,” says Iskandar, recalling his go to to Brokenshire’s home in Christchurch. “(His work) was made from porcelain clay… You had to fire it to 1,310 deg C for two days and one night.”

Iskandar, who additionally has work and collects basketry and steel beetle nut cutters on his travels, recollects one journey to Lombok, Indonesia, when he purchased an earthenware pan from a girl in a village who was utilizing it to fry espresso beans.

“I said, ‘I don’t want a new one. I want the old one.’ They thought that ‘this man must be mad’,” says Iskandar, who, in 1972, studied ceramics in Japan underneath a Colombo Plan scholarship.

Even probably the most unobtrusive factor in his home could be construed as artwork. The lounge desk was a present from the previous governor of Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture, who crafted it himself from cedar wooden greater than 4 a long time in the past.

A sculpture by Iskandar’s pupil, Hiroko Mita, consisting of dual crescent shapes yoked to one another by a 1.4m-long chain of linked clay shapes, was impressed by the connection between Iskandar and his spouse.

Iskandar doesn’t accumulate works by his mentors as a result of “the prices are astronomical”. He want to personal some works by potters Hans Coper, Shoji Hamada and Lucie Rie, however says he can not afford them. A small bowl by Rie just lately offered for half one million kilos (S$881,000), he says.

He was recognized with prostate most cancers in 2014, however stays lively and has continued to current solo exhibitions. His newest, Paradox, runs on the Japan Creative Centre until Friday.

Several cabinets in his home are crammed with ceramic works which he euphemistically describes as “teaching aids”. One of them is a spherical piece by a former pupil who smoothened the floor with a bamboo stick.

“I kicked her out,” says Iskandar, whose artwork usually has an natural model. “It was too perfect.”



Watercolourist Ong Kim Seng (above) owns this portray by second-generation Singaporean artist Wan Soon Kam, depicting a leafy highway as much as Cameron Highlands. ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Buying work as a present of assist for fellow artists

Step into the Housing Board flat of Singapore’s most well-known watercolourist Ong Kim Seng, and a portray depicting a leafy highway as much as Cameron Highlands shall be one of many first belongings you see.

This is a piece by second-generation Singaporean artist Wan Soon Kam, an artist whom 73-year-old Ong admires.

Wan, a prolific watercolour and acrylic painter, is thought for his scenes of rustic kampungs, previous buildings and metropolis landmarks.

“He has his own way of doing leaves, plants and trees, a very special technique,” says Ong of his pal, who is 2 years his senior.

“I don’t think there is anyone else who paints the way Wan Soon Kam paints.”

Ong, a Cultural Medallion recipient, has about 100 watercolour and oil work by Singaporean and overseas artists in his five-room HDB flat in Hougang.

“Artists need support and the biggest support comes from (artists) themselves. There’s nothing like buying to give encouragement,” says Ong, who usually buys works at exhibitions. Works by native artists Tan Ai Ngin, Chen Chong Swee, Chong Ah Tong and Marvin Chew are amongst these in his assortment.

But cash is a limiting issue, he says. The artist, who tends to spend lower than $10,000 on every portray, as soon as put aside $35,000 for a Willem Hofker portray at an public sale. Sadly, this was no match for the profitable bid of $60,000.

Ong, a father of three, says the works he hangs in his lounge are “serene and peaceful” to supply some reprieve from the stresses of each day life.

Each work can be technically sensible in its personal manner.

“We can’t just say, ‘My work is the best,'” he says.

“There are artists who are good at what they do and we have to admit it. I know where I stand.”

He factors to 2 work of ballerinas by Liu Yi. The Chinese artist is thought for his mastery of “wet-on-wet” approach, the place one color is laid over one other earlier than the primary layer has dried.

Ong, who paints primarily landscapes and avenue scenes, purchased Liu’s dreamy ballet dancer work Preparing (2007) and At Rest (undated) when he was in Shanghai. It is “very difficult” to color human figures in watercolour, he says.

“If you asked me to produce something like that, I wouldn’t be able to.”

He rummages via his assortment and pulls out a portray of Singapore by Dong Kingman, one of many pioneers of the California model of watercolour portray. This was a very hard-won piece, he notes, however not due to how a lot it price.

“When I met him, I gave him my portray. But he mentioned, ‘I can not alternate with you as a result of you have not reached my commonplace.’

“Finally, after I won quite a number of awards from the American Watercolor Society, he gave me this painting,” he recollects.



Home-grown sculptor Lim Soo Ngee and his spouse April Ng, a printmaker, have an eclectic jumble of works by artists resembling sculptor Han Sai Por, Japanese artist Toshimatsu 
Kuremoto, potter Peter Low, ceramicist Nelson Lim and printmaker-sculptor Chng Seok Tin. ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Artist couple sniff out quirky works which might be reasonably priced

You won’t recognise the artist’s identify, however you’ll most likely know of the Local Mynas, a trio of painted bronze sculptures that when perched in entrance of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

Home-grown sculptor Lim Soo Ngee, 56, who teaches on the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa), is thought for his whimsical spirit, as seen within the myna sculptures, and has a home to match it.

His terraced home in Hougang, which he shares together with his spouse April Ng, a printmaker, is an eclectic jumble of works by artists such because the acclaimed sculptor Han Sai Por, Malaysia-born potter Peter Low, rising ceramicist Nelson Lim and visually impaired printmaker and sculptor Chng Seok Tin.

The items vary from artsy metallic flowerpots and a glow-in-the-dark human determine in a state of wrestle, to bronze sculptures their pal Han gave them years in the past as a present for his or her now-adult son, their solely baby.

“Some people who don’t know us think we sell antiques ,” says Ng, 55, who additionally collects prints and work.

One cheeky sculpture is a ceramic finger by the late pioneer artist Ng Eng Teng. Lim, who is satisfied that it should be a center finger, purchased it at an exhibition for about $750.

Another quirky piece is by Japanese artist Toshimatsu Kuremoto, that includes a picket squashedbaseball construction coated with aluminium, with an epoxy figurine balancing on high. They purchased it for about $1,300 at a recent artwork truthful in Singapore two years in the past.

“I create human figures too,” says Lim. “And whenever you see somebody working nicely with the medium or having a very good composition, you recognize his craft.

“Usually, it’s not the work itself that influences me, but the artist’s spirit. Sai Por, for example, is really hardworking. When I see the artwork, I think of the person,” he provides.

“Actually, it’s very simple… We know these people. Sometimes we support each other… If (the work) is fun, we like it and the price is reasonable, we will buy it.”



Ceramics artist Madhvi Subrahmanian exchanged a porcelain work of her personal 
for a rattan sculpture by Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich, long-established within the 
form of the letter “S” within the Khmer alphabet. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Bartering her artwork to construct up a set

Ceramics artist Madhvi Subrahmanian might have a superb collection of sculptures, work, and vintage furnishings in the lounge of her condominium close to Bukit Timah, however she would be the first to say that she shouldn’t be a lot of a “collector”.

“I’m not interested in so-called blue-chip artists,” says the full-time artist and curator, who is in her early 50s. “I only buy things I know I want to live with. Each one is connected to a memory.”

Mumbai-born Madhvi is thought for her natural, earthy ceramic works that break the mould – from latticed constructions impressed by the form of her pregnant womb to massive scale obelisk-like “seedpods”.

She has had solo exhibitions in Singapore, India and the United States and helped curate India’s first Ceramics Triennale this 12 months.

Some of the works by different artists that she owns are, fairly actually, priceless. She acquired quite a lot of them by swopping her personal items for them.

A prized artefact from one such barter commerce is an ethereal rattan sculpture by Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich, long-established within the form of the letter “S” within the Khmer alphabet. Pich’s works, which frequently function rattan and bamboo, have been exhibited on the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Singapore’s National Gallery, amongst different areas.

Madhvi is an enormous admirer of Pich’s work. He gave the work to her and picked her sculpture, a 15-inch porcelain work known as Tree Of Life, in alternate.

Aside from Pich’s sculpture, which she shows on a facet desk, she has a number of works by well-known Indian artists.

One of them is a paper on canvas piece by the late Indian abstractionist Mehlli Gobhai – known as the Mark Rothko of Mumbai.

“It’s almost like a skin,” says Madhvi, admiring the layered floor. She provides that it took 5 years to steer the artist to promote it to her.

In the nook of her lounge is a photo-montage of HungarianIndian painter Amrita Sher-Gil. Created by the late artist’s nephew Vivan Sundaram in 2001, it contains a 1920s self-portrait juxtaposed towards a photograph of her taken across the identical time .

All these works, Madhvi says, affect her apply “by osmosis”.

“(The art) comes into your subconscious. It grows on you.”



Multidisciplinary 
artist Sarah 
Choo with an oil 
portray of pigs
in a pigsty that 
was painted in 
the 1950s by 
her paternal
grandfather,
who was a 
driver. PHOTO:
DIOS VINCOY JR FOR
THE STRAITS TIMES

‘Dark artist’ drawn to works in contrast to her personal

Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Choo Jing, 28, a rising star in Singapore’s arts scene, comes up with concepts for her initiatives in inside areas starting from her bed room to lodge rooms in Geylang and Katong.

“Whatever’s around me will translate to my artwork,” says Choo, who is thought for her immersive installations and superb artwork images.

The brainstorming for her multimedia set up, The Hidden Dimension II (2013), which probes the themes of household, folks and relationships, occurred in her bed room in her mother and father’ home, a condominium close to Hougang MRT station. This room (“my stage, my backstage”) comprises a mixture of classic and up to date artwork works that she has collected, together with a number of by Singapore feminine artists.

Among them are a pink, plump and high-heeled ceramic figurine from Xin Xiaochang’s Please Lah! Singapore (2012) collection and a digital print by Zu Orzu, that includes a feminine swimmer with a face composed of splash-like splotches.

“I am very drawn to works I know I cannot do, ” says Choo, who teaches artwork at Nanyang Girls’ High School.

The prints by Zu, a pal from her undergraduate days in Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media, have an “amazing” use of damaging area.

“My works tend to have a lot of content, a lot of details,” Choo, who is single, provides. “One factor I love is that (Zu) can place a determine off-centre and be snug with all of the white area…

“Xiaochang’s works have tongue-in-cheek humour and the colours are brighter. My works, on the other hand, are very dark.”

During work journeys, she buys trinkets resembling a vintagetin practice in London, a porcelain doll in Paris and a masks throughout final 12 months’s Venice Biennale.

She is fascinated by marionettes and means that the work she does has parallels to that of a puppetmaster.

“I manipulate documented images… I manipulate people I see on the street and present them in a specific time and place without them being aware of it.”

Midway via the interview, she stumbles on an oil portray of pigs in a pigsty. It was painted within the 1950s by her late paternal grandfather, who labored as a driver.

“My very first reminiscence was of me trying up at this portray on the wall. I’d eat dinner and that is one thing that I’d stare at.

“I wondered, why pigs? Is it because I am Sarah Choo? I could never understand it. Why not put up paintings of mountains, scenery… Why a pigsty?” The surname Choo is “zhu” in Chinese, which sounds just like the Chinese phrase for “pig”.

Choo, who is the one different artist in her household, additionally retains some previous hand-tinted pictures by her grandfather in her room.

“He was doing photography during that era when it was all black and white, and they used watercolour to tint it. I remembered looking at them and thinking, ‘Why can’t I do it now?’ And that’s when I started painting on my photographs.”

Her grandfather was a jack of many trades or, as Choo quips, “multidisciplinary”.



In calligrapher 
Tan Siah Kwee’s 
research grasp 
Chinese painter 
Hong Shichuan’s 
portray of 
Lin Daiyu and 
a bit of 
calligraphic 
script by the 
late Tan Keng 
Cheow. ST PHOTO:
KHALID BABA

Surrounded by calligraphy he can be taught from

The bitter chilly provides perfume to the plum blossom.An intimate pal is difficult to come by. Never stop from exploring well-known mountains. These are the poetic sayings carved from the “xian zhang”, or “unofficial seals”, that Chinese calligrapher Tan Siah Kwee, 70, has in his research at his terrace home in Katong.

After he finishes a bit of calligraphy, he generally stamps it with one in all these seals, which have been carved from stone by craftsmen in China about three a long time in the past. He choses the seal in accordance with the temper he needs to convey.

Call them the literary equal of modern-day emojis, if you’ll.

“When these sayings are sophisticated, they make people pay attention to the work,” he tells The Straits Times in Mandarin.

Tan, who was born in Guangdong, China, moved to Singapore within the 1950s. In 1968, he based the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and is now its president.

The Cultural Medallion recipient has a set of greater than three,000 works of calligraphy at his home, however shows solely a handful, retaining the remainder wrapped in newspapers. He is married to a retired instructor they usually have two daughters.

He hangs his associates’ calligraphy works on the partitions of his home. These vary from a 1980s portray of a inexperienced bamboo by Qigong – a famend calligrapher descended from Qing emperor Yongzheng-to a vivid piece by Ma Quanyi, depicting two galloping horses.

One piece on the wall of his research is Hong Shichuan’s portray of Lin Daiyu – the gorgeous, sad lady from the Chinese classical novel Dream Of The Red Chamber – burying fallen petals at a hillside.

In this well-known scene, Daiyu, overcome with melancholy after a misunderstanding along with her beloved, wonders: “But who will bury me when I leave the world?”

Tan, describing Daiyu – mild, narrow-waisted – as a mannequin of Chinese femininity, says of the work which was given to him in 1983: “The tricky thing is that the written words go on for so long – they are bigger than the painting – but you don’t feel they weigh it down. People don’t write in such fine script anymore… The lines here are not too thick, so they don’t overshadow the painting below.”

The adjoining wall options one other piece of calligraphic script – a form of foreword for a 1971 exhibition by his first calligraphy instructor when he was a pupil at Chung Cheng High School, the late Tan Keng Cheow.

“It suggests that calligraphy is a traditional art and you need to remember the importance of developing a good foundation,” says Tan. “At the beginning, we should imitate others and learn from them. Everything we do bears traces of someone else.”

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