June 3, 2009
Is it bad when you go into a museum, and all you can think about is how you can create a facsimile of the art pieces yourself? Because that’s exactly what I found myself doing when I paid a visit to the Singapore Art Museum, and its new extension, 8Q sam, recently. I found myself observing Wu Guangzhong’s paintings of cityscapes (buildings), for how he uses swathes of greys and whites to depict the lines that define the city. In his case, though, I do appreciate the finesse in his brush techniques. And I did find his ink paintings of paddy fields compelling — he brought out the elegance of the rice terraces.
In the case of a few other featured pieces from Southeast-Asia, though, I couldn’t help but scratch my head. The works seemed to me to be that of artists trying to produce art which make them artists; rather than artists just being. I was, frankly, bored. There was a piece in one of the exhibitions which had the explanation that the space between the panels constituting the piece was exact, to convey perspective. Sorry, too contrived for me.
It may be less exciting from a curatorial point of view, but I think an extensive permanent exhibition showcasing major pieces from critically acclaimed Singaporean and Southeast-Asian artists (those artworks which have stood the test of time) would actually be more relevant for visitors to the museum.