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IMPART Collectors' Show 2020:
Material Agendas
10-19 January 2020, 11am-7pm
SOTA Gallery
Admission is free

The IMPART Collectors’ Show returns for its third edition from 10 to 19 January 2020 at the School of the Arts’ (SOTA), Level 2, SOTA Gallery. The exhibition is open daily from 11am to 7pm. Admission is free.

First introduced in 2017, the IMPART Collectors’ Show features local and international art from the exclusive and private collections of prominent collectors around the world. Curated by Tan Boon Hui, Vice President of the Global Arts & Cultural Programmes and Director of the Asia Society Museum in New York, the show provides a rare opportunity for the public to view outstanding works of art that reside in private collections, many of which have never been shown in Singapore before. The main aspiration of the Collectors’ Show is to bring together the “market, the makers and the masses” by presenting an opportunity for collectors to share their passion and advocacy for art and artists, while encouraging the public to understand, appreciate and support the networks that sustain our visual arts communities.

Themed “Material Agendas”, the IMPART Collectors’ Show 2020 celebrates the transgressive spirit of artists boldly transforming materials into strange, odd and exhilarating forms. Drawing on 13 private collections around the world, it features works by 20 renowned artists including Odelia Tang (Singapore), Eko Nugroho (Indonesia), Christine Ay Tjoe (Indonesia), Mariano Ching (Philippines), Yang Yongliang (China), Takashi Murakami (Japan), Adeela Suleman (Pakistan), Manjit Bawa (India), Kehinde Wiley (US/Nigeria), Yinka Shonibare CBE (UK/Nigeria), Bharti Kher (UK/India), Ruud van Empel (Netherlands) and many more.

Curatorial Statement
Material Agendas
Tan Boon Hui
Curatorial Advisor
The art of the present has freed itself from the limitations of material expectations. The basis of art making is now more than ink, paint, carved stone or cast metal, and some of the most interesting contemporary work see artists testing the limits of material possibilities. This bold experimentation is carried out not just with modern industrial materials but also involves relooking at experiential possibilities of older materials. In this brave new world, one thing certainly does not look like another, as artworks test our perception of reality and experience. The transgressive quality of these material agendas has helped shape the development of contemporary art. Post war Conceptualism and Pop shattered the very idea that art had to be made from certain things, or that art even needed to be a physical object. The advent of digital techniques such as image manipulation opened up the possibility that artists could create new worlds and lives that could never exist in the physical world, while obscuring that act of manipulation. Ruud van Empel’s Theatre #6 is an example of this: each component, even the two children hidden in the woods, is constructed from the artist’s library of digital body parts, blurring the lines between what is real and what is not. This edition of the IMPART Collectors' Show celebrates the transgressive spirit of artists boldly transforming materials into strange, odd and exhilarating forms.


The lifting of limits on the material possibilities of art complements new lines of inquiry in the global art world. The latest iteration of post-colonial development has been a concerted effort to renegotiate the horizons of the contemporary art world, by seeking out and embracing varied artistic practices and artists who would otherwise have been marginalised for their ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Reflecting recent global collecting trends, this exhibition challenges what is and has been important, bringing back to the global art conversation artists that have not traditionally been part of it before. This is seen for example in the rise of African, African-American, Latino and Asian artists. These global responses to the hegemony of the Euro-American art world, and how it has shaped the understanding of what form of art and which artists are significant, is reflected in this exhibition in two ways.


Firstly, the selection includes artists such as Yinka Shonibare, Jeffrey Gibson and Jakkai Siributr who use techniques historically relegated to craft and artisanship, such as textile printing, weaving, and beading. In a similar vein, El Anatsui’s wooden sculptures of the 1980s and 1990s are made from wood pieces that have been scored with Nigerian uli and nsibidi symbols. The departure from traditional sculpture lies in his use of the blow torch and chainsaw as tools to work the wood planks. In this instance, the violent intervention on the wood references the often traumatic colonial experience that Europe brought to Africa. Kehinde Wiley’s monumental portrait of Saint Gregory the Great as a black man redefines classical European depictions of this patron saint of musicians, singers, teachers and students. Also striking back at the empire, Idris Khan challenges expectations of how works by artists from specific ethnic backgrounds should look. Khan’s photographic print The Four Seasons, devoid of cultural or ethnic references, originated from the set pieces that he created for a reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s similarly titled work by Max Richter.


Secondly, the freedom of material choices has enabled artists to redeploy existing techniques in novel ways as seen in Nadiah Bamadhaj’s intense collage and graphite drawing and in Jackson Kang’s use of polythene as a substitute for paint. Alwar Balasubramaniam’s fibreglass sculpture of his own head emerging from a wall is a confident take on conceptual sculpture, while Christine Ay Tjoe’s dynamic diptych Freezing the Black 02 challenges the boundaries between figurative and abstract painting. Tromarama’s Ting* revels in its use of ordinary household materials specifically white porcelain dishes, as the primary material for a humorous installation and stop-motion animated video. Alongside all this experimentation, Manjit Bawa’s luminous painting of a boy vaulting over a horse provides a critical counterpoint that testifies to the continued vitality of the figurative painting tradition. 


The works by local artists Jackson Kang and Odelia Tang reflect the newest generation who are attempting to participate in the recent global development in art by challenging and moving beyond pure post war conceptualism. Where the last generation might have focused on the dematerialisation of the object, artists in recent years have returned to the material basis and primacy of the art object. From the European old world, Marcin Dudek’s cloth tape work is an expression of the aesthetic possibilities of this industrial material, imitating the visual qualities of paint itself.


The mining of specific historical and artistic traditions has also contributed to the diversity of the global art world. One can best appreciate Yang Yongliang’s video works in the context of the monumental landscape paintings of Song China, not just in its aesthetic forms and symbols but also in its critique of human existence vis-a-vis our disruption of the idyllic natural landscape. Adeela Sulaiman roots her sublime images of beauty amid violence in the South Asian miniature painting tradition. Similarly, Bharti Kher’s bindi-covered elephant roots its form in a specific Indian context. Mariano Ching’s pyrograph is a sublime expression of passion and pain, in the context of the dominant religious tradition of the Philippines. 


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