All the President's artists

By Tan Dawn Wei

Originally published in Project EyeBall.


THE President's putting his weight behind another event.

This time, it's The President's Young Talents Exhibition organised by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). It was conceived as part of an initiative to present and promote young emerging artists in Singapore. This inaugural year features 10 such artists, several of whom are familiar names. Ian Woo, December Pang Hwee Kuen and Lim Kok Boon, for instance, were Jurors' Choice winners in last year's Philip Morris Singapore Art Awards. The other artists whose works are showcased are Abdul Rashid Abdul Gapur, Ernest Chan Tuck Yew, Hong Sekchern, Khiew Huey Chian, Noni Kaur, Benjamin Puah and Ye Shufang. The artists were selected by a committee of three curators, including SAM's Ahmad Mashadi. ''We look at artworks that can best provide a kind of linkage between local and overseas platforms,'' he explained of the new series that will be held once every two years.

While all 10 artists belong to the same young generation, their works are conceptually and stylistically diverse. On one hand, there are the conventional paintings where ''the idea of creating an object is there for you to contemplate upon'', said Ahmad. While some of the installation works on display make use of devices that are designed with audience interaction in mind. For instance, Khiew Huey Chian's works include a series of watercolour paintings on the wall, and sponges on the floor. ''The drawings are diversionary. They allow you to imagine walking in a gallery, but in doing so, you're stepping on the sponges and making impressions on them. So, the artwork is constantly evolving,'' explained Ahmad. Just as diverse are the themes. Said co-curator of the exhibition Lindy Poh: ''Some of the key issues in contemporary art, such as politics of gender and ethnic identities, memories and narrative, images and perceptions, are advanced and articulated simultaneously at both formal and conceptual levels. ''Collectively, these artists reflect the rich and varied terrain of art in Singapore today.''

The exhibition will be launched by President S R Nathan today and will run till July 1. Open from 9 am until 6 pm (Tuesdays to Sundays) and 9 pm (Fridays). It's closed on Mondays. Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for children and senior citizens. Free admission every Friday from 6 pm.