IMPART COLLECTORS' SHOW
IMPART Collectors' Show 2018:
波靖南溟 Gentle Waves Over The Archipelago
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Admission is free
Art Outreach Singapore will showcase a stellar exhibition of two leading Singaporean art collectors at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) as part of its IMPART Awards initiative.
The exhibition presents an exciting and rare opportunity for the public to experience a selection of works by notable Singaporean and Indonesian modern artists such as Affandi, Cheong Soo Pieng, I Made Djirna, I Nyoman Sukari, Popo Iskandar, Srihadi Soedarsono, Tang Da Wu, Widayat, and Zhuang Sheng Tao. Though the artists from the two countries draw their ideas from different cultural traditions and philosophies, their subjectivity is nonetheless rooted in the archipelago. Focused on life in the region, the works of these artists share in the representation of peoples, landscapes, and of expressive inner worlds and spirituality, bridging the incommensurable gap of their respective cultural legacies.
According to IMPART Awards Chairman Jackson See, “The IMPART Collectors’ Show presents the opportunity for local collectors to not only share their passion and advocacy for local and regional art and artists, but also allow local audiences to enjoy access to key works that are held in private collections. This seminal event attempts to bring together “the market and the makers” as IMPART seeks not only to cultivate emerging art talents but also encourage art collectors and the public to understand, appreciate and to support our local visual art communities.”
The IMPART Collectors’ Show will also provide IMPART curatorial award winner, Kamiliah Bahdar, an invaluable platform to hone her skills under the mentorship of senior curator Kwok Kian Chow, an expert on Southeast Asian and Chinese contemporary art.
“Since 2003, Art Outreach has focused on bringing art appreciation lessons to over 500,000 students and even more members of the public, as we work towards promoting visual literacy. What has been consistent in our encounters with students and the public alike, is strong and positive responses to local artwork as the art themes and motifs resonate strongly with our broadly local audience. This has served as impetus for the IMPART Awards and events, and underscores our commitment to not just developing local audiences, but also extend our mission to support emerging artists and curators who want to establish themselves as full time visual art professionals. We hope the confluence of art makers, curators, collectors and all other stakeholders in the art ecosystem at the IMPART Collectors’ Show will strongly endorse our efforts, and rally all to join us in supporting and celebrating local art and local art talents”, says Mae Anderson, Chairman of Art Outreach Singapore.
The IMPART Collectors’ Show and accompanying public programmes have received the support of the National Arts Council, as part of Singapore Art Week 2018. The IMPART initiative has also fostered partnerships and collaborations with the Economic Development Board (EDB), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and custom leather-craft atelier Bynd Artisan.
Re-making the stage through art and collecting
IMPART 2017 Curatorial Award Winner
In Thian Hock Keng, a Chinese temple located at Telok Ayer Street, hangs a wooden plaque with the Chinese characters 波靖南溟 (bo jing nan ming)—from which this exhibition takes its title from. The plaque, together with a silk scroll, was presented to the temple in 1907 by Emperor Guangxu—the penultimate emperor of Imperial China—in recognition of the temple, and the Hokkien community it serves, for their donation and aid towards flood relief efforts in Fujian province in 1905.
The Chinese characters translate to ‘gentle waves on the southern seas’: a blessing for a safe journey. The temple itself first began in 1821 as a prayer house dedicated to the goddess of the sea and protector of seafarers Mazu, also known as Ma Cho Po or Tian Hou, and to whom Chinese immigrants, many from the Fujian province, who had just completed their journey across treacherous seas would present thanksgiving offerings.
A transliteration of the phrase, character by character, roughly means 'waves', 'peace/quiet', 'south', and 'humid/damp/grey'—the last transliteration bringing to mind the humid tropics of the Malay Archipelago. In a short story titled Karain: A Memory, by Joseph Conrad, and first published in 1897, a corner of this humid tropical archipelago was a stage for its eponymous character, a Malay rajah of Bugis descent in Mindanao; “He summed up his race, his country, the elemental force of ardent life, of tropical nature. He had its luxuriant strength, its fascination: and, like it, he carried the seed of peril within.” The stage is inseparable from the actor: place and people are inextricably connected, each giving existence, form and expression to the other. Instinctively then, artists would expectedly form a sense of identification, and attachment, or even dis-identification, to places and people, across time and space, whether in the past or present, even as they should be returning from or are en route to whole new places.
Art, in depicting places, people and objects, whether figurative or abstract, re-makes or re-articulates a stage and/for its actors. The artist re-makes or re-articulates it as he sees it to be, or aspires it to be, based on his own subjectivity that is informed by history, cultural and artistic traditions and philosophies, and life experiences. And in a seamless moving back and forth between simulacrum and reality, the viewer—as also an actor—takes on the subjectivity and perception of the artist, and thus, given the means to re-imagine his relationship and connection with his stage. An art collection too re-makes a stage, albeit a wider one. In the collecting of art, different subjectivities, lenses and aspirations are gathered together, at times in an entangled tension, and brought into conversation with each other, and in that sense a collection articulates those different subjectivities and aspirations on a grander scale—a map charting a journey for the viewer.
I MADE DJIRNA (1957—present) WIDAYAT (1919—2002)
I NYOMAN SUKARI (1968—2010)
POPO ISKANDAR (1927—2000)
SRIHADI SOEDARSONO (1931—present) AFFANDI (1907—1990)
“...he is the first modern Balinese painter to adopt a psychological language of his art. [...] His works talk about “his” perception of the world, “his” vision of women, “his” understanding of the threats, moral and political, that the world has to face. Unlike many of his Balinese peers, he doesn’t choose and paints symbols to denote his Balinese-ness or Hindu-ness, but to talk about “his” longings, “his” fears and “his” ideas of the world. It is only in their incidental structure and content that these longings, fears and ideas are Balinese.”
Jean Couteau on I Made Djirna1
“Much that is ‘magical’ in Widayat’s oeuvre has something to do with the sublime and mysterious qualities his paintings imbue the natural realm. A dominant theme in his oeuvre, nature was the playground of Widayat’s fantasy world. The natural realm of Widayat’s imagination was the site of prehistoric life, or primordial innocence and savagery, of mystery and mysticism: fantasies of jungle life saw counterparts in marine depths; visions of ancient trees with boughs reaching like sturdy structures to support crowns of verdant foliage and animal life, and of jungle shrubbery so thick as to be impenetrable to light. [...] Ancestral objects, in particular tribal masks and sculptures, were similarly ascribed notions of antiquity and primitive life, even if his referents could well have been of recent origination.”
Joanna Lee on Widayat2
“A number of former Sanggar Dewata have moved towards figurate expressions and landscape as an expression, the best exponents being I Nyoman Sukari (1968-2010), Mangu Putra (1963-) and I Ketut Susena (1969-). Sukari, also from Karangasem, like Pande Ketut Taman, used figurative expression to voice social criticism, but in a more scathingly critical fashion than many of his contemporaries. Rumours surround his death in Yogyakarta, including that he was suffering from depression, something that may explain the darker qualities of his work.”
Adrian Vickers on I Nyoman Sukari3
“Here the emphasis is not so much on the “essence of forms” as on the “essential forms”, that is, on how lines, curves, circles, colours and space incarnate interiority and visualize the inner dimension. [...] For Popo it seems that ultimately what counts is no more the visible forms of the objects, but the invisible reality instead, that is, the dynamic of senses, which is mysterious and often sublime; the reflection of life itself; various intimate inner experience which is often ineffable, etc.”
Bambang Sugiharto on Popo Iskandar4
“Srihadi’s cosmic works are landscapes enhanced with a metaphysical dimension. They prompt the viewer to meditate on the true essence of the world. They invite him to travel to the unseen world beyond the horizon. Through the use of a single detail such as a small temple or the sun,
they are also an affirmation of the overwhelming power of nature. [...] For Srihadi, reality consists of three related elements: the divine, man, and nature. Man and the divine are related to each another in a vertical way, while man is related to nature in a horizontal way. A third relationship is that between man and man.”
Jean Couteau on Srihadi Soedarsono5
“I want to capture such signs, the signs of the natural forces, but I can never capture them completely. I always try, but I always fail.” [...] “When I paint, I always want to become one with the object I paint. I lose myself, and then there is a feeling as if I’m going to fight against something.”
1 Jean Couteau. (2001). Made Djirna’s Longing. In Selected Works of Made Djirna from the Year 2000, pp. 11-22. Bali, Indonesia: Hotel Padma Bali.
2 Joanna Lee. (2007). Widayat Between Worlds: The Modern Condition. In Joanna Lee (Ed.), Widayat Between Worlds: A Retrospective, pp. 13-25, exhibition catalogue, 13 September-28 October 2007, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.
3 Adrian Vickers. (2012). Balinese Art: Paintings and Drawings of Bali 1800-2010. Singapore: Tuttle Publishing.
4 Bambang Sugiharto. (2000). In Search of Self between the Essence of Forms and Essential Forms. In Popo Iskandar: A Perspective of His Works, pp. 279-280. Bandung, Indonesia: Griya Seni Popo Iskandar.
5 Jean Couteau. (2003). Srihadi Soedarsono: The Path of the Soul. Jakarta, Indonesia: Lontar Foundation.
6 Jim Supangkat. (2007). Affandi and self-portrait: Re-analyzing Affandi. In Sardjana Sumichan (Ed.), Affandi Volume 1, pp. 31-73. Jakarta and Singapore: Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation and Singapore Art Museum.