Woe betide an interested visitor who is not tech-savvy enough to deal with QR codes at this show. There are no captions explaining the works and the information is accessible only in a downloadable PDF file (which is not mobile-friendly and carries outdated information about show dates) and an audio tour.
This is an unfortunate and unnecessary barrier to an exhibition which brings together Ginette Chittick, Hazel Lim, Nature Shankar, Berny Tan and Jodi Tan – women artists working in the oft-neglected realm of craft.
Chittick takes sourcing for material one step further by spinning wool from locally picked kapok for her mixed media sculptures.
Lim’s latch-hooked works, Shankar’s freewheeling threadscapes on reclaimed fabrics and Jodi Tan’s cross-stitched abstractions treat material and thread as expressive tools for art-making, re-purposing domestic tools in new ways.
Berny Tan’s meticulously embroidered text on calico – reproducing in laborious handiwork and careful effort the ease of print – forces the viewer to become conscious of the act of reading. Equally intriguing are her pieces which feature unpicked lengths of thread along with the shadows of previously worked letters.
Embroidery, weaving and needlework are often dismissed as domestic pursuits unworthy of serious artistic regard. In theory, this show is about reclaiming the practice of craft. But in practice, the exhibition seems about as ambivalent as a chauvinist critic.
The lack of captions and clear attribution contradict the exhibition’s aim, stated in the audio tour, of exploring “labour, visibility and agency in craft”. The women artists are ill-served by this muddled presentation.
Where: Jendela, Esplanade, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Till Aug 29. Mondays to Fridays: 11am to 8.30pm; Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: 10am to 8.30pm
MRT: City Hall/Esplanade
(Related: 8 local books to check out for National Day)
Life In Edo | Russel Wong In Kyoto
The Asian Civilisations Museum has extended this exhibition till Oct 17, which is great as the ukiyo-e prints on show have just been refreshed.
There were more than 70 prints on show in the first rotation, on loan from Japanese collector Nakau Ei, and this second rotation offers some gorgeous exemplars of woodblock prints.
Look out especially for those from Katsushika Hokusai’s famed Thirty-Six Views Of Mount Fuji series and Utagawa Hiroshige’s The Fifty-three Stations Of The Tokaido series. The skill of the carver is especially impressive in a print collaboration by Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Torijo titled Wanting To Eat: Mimasaka Province, in which individual rice grains can be seen in the rice dumplings carried on a tray.
The prints, organised along the themes of food, beauty and travel, highlight the surprisingly modern sensibilities of the city of Edo (Tokyo’s old name) and its people. The people of Edo were into travel and food, and ukiyo-e were the social media of the era, helping to publicise famous restaurants (there is a hilarious series pairing famous actors with the best Edo eateries) and highlighting the attractions of various destinations in other parts of Japan.
While the prints are a great way to time travel, Wong’s beautiful black-and-white prints are a vicarious thrill, offering a look at the cloistered, secretive world of the geiko. Till borders reopen, this is a great way to visit Japan.
Where: Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place
When: Till Oct 17, 10am to 7pm daily, till 9pm on Fridays
Admission: $12 for Singapore citizens and permanent residents
It is nice to see galleries getting neighbourly. Art Porters, the veteran at Spottiswoode Park Road, has teamed up with Art Agenda S.E.A., which moved in next door, on this new venue.
Located on the second floor of the shophouse unit occupied by Art Agenda S.E.A., 63 Upper has a roomy hall in the front and a series of smaller rooms in the rear of the shophouse, painted in unusually bright shades of lemon yellow, baby blue, rosy pink and lavender purple.
There is an intriguing mix of artworks on show, all offered for sale from private collectors. The current crop includes two works by centenarian Lim Tze Peng and a rare Arthur Yap painting owned by playwright/author Robert Yeo.
Scattered amid the older Singaporean painters such as Goh Beng Kwan and Henri Chen Kezhan are works by younger artist Ruben Pang as well as regional artists.
While you are in the neighbourhood, check out Art Agenda’s All Is Not As It Was, Nothing As It Will Be, which juxtaposes local artist Liu Kang’s paintings against photography by Cultural Medallion recipient Yip Cheong Fun and other photographers in an exploration of urban decay and renewal. This show has been extended to Sept 1.
Pop over to Art Porters, too, for its new show, Grayscale, which opens on Saturday (Aug 14). It gathers black-and-white works by four artists in various media – including ceramic, paper and video.
Where: 63 Spottiswoode Park Road
When: Till Sept 30
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.