The deceptive immutability of objects propels “Solid Prayers,” a solo exhibition by Singapore artist Chun Kai Qun at Fost Gallery. The multimedia artist presented over 20 of his characteristically off-kilter works, including paraphrasings of older pieces, a deft video installation, and works that might be described as meta-artifacts. One, a miniature tableau entitled Act 4 Scene 1 (Episode 1): One People One Nation (2016), depicts an art class enveloped by translucent mustard-yellow vinyl. Small uneasy figures at easels regard a manic creature posing as Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son (1820–23). The artist envisages this fraught microcosm as a future performance piece, where conformity collides with creativity.
Chun challenges the formal aesthetics of sculpture through his utilisation of banal objects as critical material; his experiments become a source from which we evaluate the establishment of art—its concepts, premises, trends, rubrics, and rules.It is uncanny that “B” Grade Sculptures is presented at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media—an academic institution that echoes the same grading system Chun escapes—and is shown right before the school’s Graduate Show. But in naming and claiming his works as “B” grade, Chun’s submission subverts the formula, a freedom he declares—“mine to keep forever”.
Although neither of them comes from families that collect art, they have felt a strong desire to engage with young artists. As Mr Gunawan observes: “It stems from the shared experience of starting out in our respective careers - we know that any help or support is always welcome.”They have always appreciated the arts - he loves literature and cinema, she enjoys music and theatre. “But when we started collecting art, we found ourselves becoming part of a real community of artists and gallerists, many of whom have demonstrated genuine intent and integrity.”Gallerist Stephanie Fong of FOST, for instance, has been pivotal in championing the careers of young Singapore artists. The Gunawans are fans of the talented brothers Chun Kai Qun and Chun Kai Feng, who previously showed at FOST. Mizuma Gallery, Yavuz Gallery and Sullivan & Strumpf have also supported many young artists from the region.
Meanwhile, seven promising young artists were conferred the Young Artist Award at the event. This award is for outstanding arts practitioners aged 35 and below, whose artistic achievements, creative voice, leadership and commitment to their craft have distinguished them among their peers.The seven receipients are: Composer Diana Soh, film-maker Kirsten Tan, multi-disciplinary artist (and current President’s Young Talents exhibition participant) Loo Zihan, lighting designer James Tan, musician Riduan Zalani and identical artist-twins Chun Kai Feng and Chun Kai Qun.
Until October, Chun Kai Qun, Chun Kaifeng and Elizabeth Gan are using the theme park’s unused spaces to curate four exhibitions under their recently developed curatorial platform Latent Spaces. As the name suggests, they seek to work with unused or untapped spaces to make and exhibit art, and other social entrepreneurial activities.“I’m interested in analysing material culture, and what an expanded reading of the objects that surround us can tell us about ourselves and the society we live in,” said Chun Kai Qun, whose work often spans sculptural objects, installation and video.Their first exhibition, Nameless Forms, engages with the (social) life and agency of objects. It will feature works by the Chun twins, Darren Tesar, Sai Hua Kuan and collective Yunrubin, which will respond to the place’s defunct exhibition halls, idle pavilions and the materials that were left behind.
Nevertheless, artists have become adapt at finding room to manoeuvre within such a controlled environment, says video artist Chun Kai Qun, seated in the trendy café in Lasalle College of the Arts. It’s one of a number of art colleges in the city of 5.5 million people.He says he organised a busker’s performance of Sam Hui songs in a community centre, with lyrics changed so they became protest songs. Despite his rebellious tendencies, the government last year gave him and his artist twin brother Kai Fung the national young artist award.“Censorship is not very clear-cut in Singapore. You only find out you’re in trouble when you’re in trouble,” he says.
This year’s Survey features 18 artists - ranging from 79-year-old Lee Boon Wang to artists in their 20s such as Eugene Soh and twin brothers Chun Kaifeng and Kai Qun - and a mix of old and new works.Kai Qun’s work is a monumental newspaper and raffia string installation. Titled The Paper, Some Paper (II), the 2015 work comprises suspended sheets of classified advertisements from a local newspaper, threaded loosely with pink raffia and held together in the shape of a pillar.The 32-year-old artist, who took part in the 2011 edition, says the Singapore Survey “has grown to become more than just an exhibition, but also a means of writing and presenting fragments of our local art history”, while addressing the concerns of making art here.
Among them is Singapore artist Chun Kai Feng, who heads the curatorial group Latent Spaces with his twin brother Kai Qun. It had a booth at Art Stage. He says some local artists were “frantically producing art” just so they could be a part of Art Week.”I am not sure if it is a good thing, that we artists are conditioning our bodies and personal creative rhythms to match the pace of this economic art machine.”He adds: “There is only that much attention an average human being has and it may be counterproductive to jam-pack exhibitions in such a short space of time.”
Among some of the key works that belong to Dr John Chia and his wife, Dr Cheryl Loh, is local photographer John Clang’s 3ft Deep, which Dr Chia describes as “Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett all rolled into one”. “If we ever publish a collector’s book, this image would be on its cover,” shares Dr Chia, a well-known figure in the arts scene. The senior consultant medical oncologist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore is a regular speaker at art forums, including Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) Perspectives series. The couple enjoy being challenged by the aesthetics of contemporary art. “It’s like navigating a different terrain and requires an open mind.”One piece that has piqued the couple’s interest is Singapore native Chun Kai Qun’s The Paper, Some Paper, which they first saw last year. The installation is formed by suspended sheets of classified ads from local newspapers, which Dr Chia interprets as a depiction of the detritus of modern Singapore living...