Sculptured Singapore: National Gallery exhibition shows art all around

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Headstones from a spooky graveyard and morbid renditions of a historic statue are part of an extensive exhibition on the history of sculpture in Singapore.

Nothing is forever: rethinking sculpture in Singaporewhich runs from Thursday to early February at the National Gallery Singapore, showcases familiar and previously unseen works that trace the evolution of sculpture locally over two centuries.

“By presenting the first major local survey of sculpture in 30 years, the gallery seeks to broaden knowledge and raise awareness of Singapore’s dynamic art history,” National Gallery Singapore director Eugene Tan said in a statement. A press release.

Divided into four sections – Power, The Spiritual, The Corporeal and Making, Unmaking and Remaking – the exhibition shows how sculpture has changed visually and functionally over time.

It sheds light on how sculpture has shaped the cityscape of the city-state and encourages viewers to see them from a different perspective and realize that art can be found all around.

The works will range from performance to installation.

In the New era installation by Lim Leong Seng, plastic bags filled with air are stacked and suspended from the ceiling to show how the meaning of a sculpture changes over time. In this case, plastic was considered revolutionary in the 70s when it was introduced, but is now considered an environmental nuisance.

‘Entrepreneur’ (1969) by Vincent Hoisington. In the background, ‘New Era’ (1976, remade in 2022) by Lim Leong Seng.

Another, by artist Jimmy Ong, interprets the nearby statue of Singapore’s founder, Stamford Raffles. A far cry from the colonial splendor of the original, these are headless torsos wrapped in turquoise patchwork denim and batik fabric suspension harnesses with very dark vibes. They were sewn and stuffed by seamstresses in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Their backs are inscribed with stitched extracts of Javanese ethicsa book of fables, and bound in the style of Japanese Shibari bondage art.

At the entrance, see the funerary statues of Ong Chin Huat’s Tomb, which was among 3,700 graves exhumed at the infamous Bukit Brown Cemetery to make way for the Lornie Highway.

The Merlion National Monument makes many appearances, whether as collectibles arranged in different sizes, in versions with various features which is a statement on Singapore’s diversity by artist Ang Song Nian.

Cloud of ’68 by contemporary artist Tang Da Wu with bricks and metal wires was inspired by the student riots in Paris that the artist witnessed.

Several Hindu temple sculptures, donated by the Hindu Endowments Board, are also displayed on shelves.

The museum also features an interactive 360-degree video installation that shows sculptures from across ASEAN.

The exhibition is free for all.

One of Jimmy Ong’s ‘Uncursed Cotton’ sculptures. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
“Your blank stare left me at sea” (2013) by Ang Song Nian. Photo: National Gallery
Pair of lion figures and accompanying figures from the tomb of Ong Chin Huat by an unknown artist. Photo: National Gallery of Singapore
‘Cloud of ’68’ (1971, remade 2022) by Tang Da Wu. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
‘Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi on Bull’ by unknown artist. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
‘Mavis’ (1953) by Annaratnam Gunaratnam

FIND IT
Nothing is forever: rethinking sculpture in Singapore
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
National Gallery of Singapore Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery and The Spine Hall
1 St Andrew’s Rd, Level B1 Basement Lobby in the Town Hall Wing

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