My Highlights from Art Stage Singapore
Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul is a Thai independent film director, screenwriter, and film producer who won the prestigious 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or prize for his film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing his extensive body of work in a powerful exhibition at Jim Thompson Thai House Museum and working with him for a show at Para Site Art Space in Hong Kong. In both projects, he masterfully addressed dreams, nature, sexuality, and Western perceptions of Thailand and Asia.
Claude Lalanne is the surviving half of the legendary duo Les Lalanne, who came to prominence alongside François-Xavier Lalanne (1927–2008), as an innovator transcending art/design boundaries in the pursuit of creating “objects to live with.” Since then, commissions have ranged from public spaces like Hotel de Ville and Les Halles to private work for the likes of Yves St Laurent and Tom Ford. Five decades after his “man with the head of a cabbage” was chosen as an album cover by singer Serge Gainsbourg and 35 years after a pivotal Whitechapel exhibition, the creations of Claude Lalanne remains as timeless and independent as ever.
Sophie Calle’s brilliance as a conceptual artist and photographer lies in the focus on the process, not the product. Her seminal show at Whitechapel, “Talking to Strangers”, questioned universal truths with the use of artificial documentary ‘evidence’; this theme of detective-like curiosity continued in the work by which she is represented at Tate Modern (and many other leading public collections around the world).
I have admired Tatsuo Miyajima’s installations for decades, fascinated with his distinct representation of life’s journey via “gadgets” that are seemingly futuristic and yet relatively archaic at the same time. Having twice represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, Miyajima’s museum shows and public sculptures offer cause for quiet contemplation and vibrant spectacle. The concepts around which his art centres are universal, but particularly resonant in Asia where the tenets have strong parallels with Buddhist beliefs: “Keep Changing,” “Connect with All,” and “Goes on forever.”
A member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group alongside FN Souza, Syed Haider Raza, and Maqbool Fida Husain, Mehta has always stood out for me as the great Modernist who broke away from tradition and rightly earned his distinction as as the Indian nation’s Francis Bacon. The color and deconstruction of the work is more difficult and disturbing than the aesthetic of his peers, setting him apart as a true pioneer and creative catalyst. Being Russian, it is always fascinating to think about the artistic practices and freedoms that flourished in post-partition India, in an era where art in Communist-led countries was crippled by the constraints of government-dictated Socialist Realism.
This piece was a highlight of curator June Yap’s UBS MAP Guggenheim show, currently on display at Asia Society in Hong Kong. Rasdjarmearnsook’s work cleverly attempts to demystify Western art, while exploring the translatability of artworks across cultures.