Written by Mu Yao, Photos by Xin Li.
Xin Li, Vinleon and I had the lovely privilege of attending the "Off The Wall" opening launch, which was held at Tanjong Pagar Distripark (Artspace @ Helutrans) somewhere last last Saturday. Proudly presented by Fortune Cookie Projects (from Singapore) and Wall Works Galerie (from France), this exhibition brings the urban street art (graffiti and the like) to the gilded high realms of the walls of an art gallery. It was a pretty interesting urban art experience that presented the raw, gritty and wildly expressive nature of these street artists in an all new setting - on new mediums like canvas instead of spray paints on walls.\
I wasn't particularly intrigued by the idea of graffiti taking to gallery walls in the first place, to be honest. Perhaps my experience with urban art has always been one where it was viewed with this snobby cynicism, especially in draconian Singapore. Where else does vandalism get punished so heavily? (cue Oliver Fricker and SMRT trains). And perhaps, my experience with graffiti has never been more of the O$P$ kind at the odd HDB flat, or the odd little graphic placed at some obscure back alley, or the seemingly obfuscatory graphic that resembles nothing but a fancified, kick-ass signature on those walls of Haji Lane. Still, I was pleasantly surprised, not only with that valiant sense of bravado these group of artists took to the stage (or walls, in this case) in presenting this exhibition, but also the expressive, rich quality that resounded in some of these works.
Being treated to a live art demonstration of graffiti in action.
Take French Artist Fenx, for example. His work has a oddly comic pop-art quality that resemble Lichtenstein, but with a stronger sense of satire on the way he views life around him. Certainly there's no politicization about this, but unlike other "high art" normally found in galleries, this has a strong sense of personality and experience about him, not just an "aesthetic" kind of style, but a deeper personal voice that resounds through the choice and portrayal of subjects. Another artist, Sonic, from the USA, features the same personal voice in his exposition of urban loneliness, dereliction with his paintings. Closer to home, we have Antz, a Singaporean artist that fuses a strong sense of asian aesthetic in the largely Western art form of graffiti. Introducing elements of Chinese Calligraphy in his work, his depiction of funny, weird-looking, eccentric beings certainly is quite a different experience from a typical work that you may find in those chi-chi galleries.
Easily accessible to all?
All in all, as an art exhibition, it is heartening to see that there is so much life and zest to have come out of these works. Not only coupled with a strong sense of personal voice, the refreshing sincerity through the rawness of each work comes to life when it attempts to portray certains thoughts of society and urban life - a subject rich in its own right. And for that vigorous effort, I have nothing but encouragement for these edgy urban artists.
We were also lucky to have tasted the acclaimed Julien Bompard's creations, whose colorful hors d'oeuvres were snapped up by a hungry crowd of art viewers.
The warm reception of Julien Bompard's Creations
This event may have been over, but there are also exciting offerings as part of the Voilah! French Festival Singapore. Talking about art specifically, you can check out the Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris held at the National Museum Of Singapore. More about it here.
A special mention and thank you to Tecks Chia from Clout Communications for allowing us to attend this event.