While art fairs, like any other kinds of trade fair, focus on buying and selling, their essence lies in the aura of the original artworks and the artists who may be present. I went to the newly added May edition of the Affordable Art Fair Singapore last weekend with beloved friends, who made the experience more joyful and meaningful.
I tried not to have any expectations and refrained from comparing it to past shows. By the time we left the Fair ground, it was very clear to me that, works of Nanyang flavours, and South Korean galleries stood out to me. Otherwise, I was also particularly drawn to works by a Russian artist who has lived in Singapore for years.
Nanyang comes from the Chinese term 南洋 which literally means “the southern ocean”, it was used by early migrants from China to refer to the Southeast Asian region in the 1800s and the early 1900s. I will delve into neither the Nanyang Style as an art movement nor any academic & technical definition of it.
A drawing that naturally gives me a comfortable feel of the Nanyang flavours, cultures, and places familiar to me is especially appreciated. The primary medium may be charcoal, water colour, Chinese ink, oil or acrylic, and on paper, rice paper or canvas.
Here is one extraordinary Singaporean artist, Tung Yue Nang, whose works instill a homely Nanyang sensation in me, and will inevitably lure you to go closer, in order to admire the fine details. Some others may prefer to behold his art in its entirety from a little distance.
Other works imbued with the Nanyang vibes include “pixelated” paintings by Zhang Chun Lei at Da Tang Fine Arts, as well as the Kampung (means village in the Malay language) series at Eagle’s Eye Art Gallery, which has a good number of artworks that depict the Nanyang settings by various artists and in different styles.
The novel and vibrant artworks presented by South Korean galleries caught my eyes at the Fair too. It’s not about sheer sizes or loud impact, it’s the delicate craftsmanship blended into the concept and the art-creation.
South Korean art is a sector not to be overlooked now. We spent probably the longest time at SOOHOH Gallery looking at the works they had carefully flown in, while the gallery sitter patiently explained the techniques and special features of the diverse artworks on display.
Kwak Seung-Yong, represented by Galerie GAIA in South Korea, has managed art appropriation to the next level. Read the text in the following photo to find out more about him and his artistic aspiration.
Just before we walked toward the exit, the sweetness of some dream-like paintings had me popped into a booth. It was Singapore-based Maya Gallery. Russian artist-dancer Inessa K’s paintings show no distinctive outlines, perhaps just like how she has put it:
“I don’t draw clear boundaries between visual art, music, poetry and dance. Piece of poem can inspire a painting that inspires a dance routine.”