A Chronicle of Pasts and Vision of Futures

Part 3 of 3 for


Ivan (Life imitates art):

If all art is but an imitation of life, then it is impossible for art to offer us anything new and original. Since we do privilege a sense of uniqueness in an artwork, art must necessarily offer life something greater than what life can offer art. 

Johannes (Art imitates life):

Throughout the ages, art has played an important role in highlighting and preserving the ideas we cherish and the memories of the people we hold dear. These lasting monuments are a testimony to the fact that art imitates life.
Text by: John Tung (Curator) | Editor: Yeo Boon Ping

Edges and Residues 20 - Madder Carmine, Cadmium Red, and Prussian Blue, 2015

Kanchana Gupta incorporates seemingly sculptural techniques in the creation of her two-dimensional works. Employing techniques such as layering, tearing, burning, peeling, stacking, folding, bundling, heaping, arranging, compressing, and cleaving, her process of creation is reflective and meditative. Jute — the material which the oil paint skins are layered upon — also references a material utilised  across construction sites and temporary homes. In this regard, both materials and technique allude to the topic of labour, of which the artist is deeply concerned.
Kanchana Gupta

Courtesy of:
The Gouws Collection

Stacked oil paint skins burnt and stripped off jute and mounted on wooden structure
173 × 131cm


They Came In from the Sides, 2013

Approaching abstraction as a distillation of personal experiences of the real world, the artist likens the process of artmaking as one of recollecting. Yet, rather than faithful imitation of the aforementioned experiences, the work conveys the intuitions of the artist by concerning itself with shapes, contrasts, and motion.

Upon stretched linen, monotone hues and flourishes of colours seem bound within a frame, while the use of differing brushstrokes and varying intensities of colours evoke a sense of dynamism as the distinct layers of paint coalesce on a single plane. The work’s title, They Came In from the Sides, suggests continued interaction of these elements that expand even beyond the borders of the painting itself.
Ian Woo

Courtesy of:
The Gouws Collection

Acrylic on linen
183 x 147cm


Floating Rays of a Wanderer: Wanderer #2, 2019

In the Floating Rays of a Wanderer series, Lavender Chang compresses extended durations of time into singular images. The image, created by means of prolonged exposure aboard a public bus in Singapore, amalgamates the different sights from the fixed routes the buses ply. Beyond serving as chronicles of journeys undertaken, the work also documents Singapore’s ever-changing landscape. Moreover, with the compression of the journey’s entire time frame into a snapshot, the work intimates the haziness of the time that elapses between the point of departure and arrival.
Lavender Chang

Courtesy of:
The Gouws Collection

Fine art inkjet print
81.45 x 100 cm


National Anthem (Zubir Said Drive), 2022

Kentaro Hiroki painstakingly replicates a photograph of the sky as seen from Zubir Said Drive and a piece of rubbish collected there. The title of the artwork takes after a chapter within Zubir Said’s biography, and the hyper-realistic drawing and paper sculpture is also accompanied by the same text fashioned from the colour-pencil shavings derived from the process. The Malay text, loosely translated as “Where the sky above I hold, the earth beneath I tread”, simultaneously grounds Hiroki’s artwork as a contemplative deliberation of the anthem’s significance in shaping a country and moulding a national identity.
Kentaro Hiroki

Colour pencil on paper
Various dimensions


Nothing Is Forever/Vernonia Elliptica, 2022

These vernonia creepers — widely known to Southeast Asia’s horticulturalists by the moniker ‘Lee Kuan Yew Creeper’ — have been pruned by Nila Choo to spell out the letters L-K-Y. The greening of Singapore, giving it the nickname, The Garden City is one of numerous initiatives conceptualised and spearheaded by the founding Prime Minister of Singapore. His demise in 2015 has done little to quell architects’ penchant for incorporating this creeper into green construction initiatives. In conceptualising this living botanical artwork, Choo seems to pose the age-old question of nature versus nurture in relation to a country’s development.
Nila Choo

Installation with vernonia creepers
Dimensions variable

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