With the turn of the century, Singapore contemporary art of the 2000s has largely witnessed a shift from medium-specific art-making to artists working in interdisciplinary and new media practices. The exhibition REFORMATIONS seeks to survey the state of painting with a selection of artists whose works respond to the medium of paint, and are distinct through their investigation of materiality and methodology. At times, they cross into expanded dimensions that encompass installation, sculpture, site-specificity, and along other propositions for image-making.
They also highlight shifts in strategies of art-making within the medium in light of the climate of the post-medium condition of contemporary art, resulting in works that may or may not be painting, but are informed by both the conventions and limitations of the medium. It is within this context of looking at painting as critical subject matter rather than an end product that we can locate the works of the artists in this exhibition.
Jane Lee, who began her practice in the mid 2000s, is part of a small group of artists in Singapore whose work led to the resurgence of the medium as a critical force by pushing the boundaries of what painting could be conceived to be. The shift in painters to harnessing the sculptural potentials of painting, can be seen in Kanchana Gupta’s works that engage with the dual notions of accumulation and compression in her work with the skin of paint.
Central in the works of Luke Heng and Guo-Liang Tan is a propensity towards reduction, as they distill the constituents of what defines painting into unexpected forms and perspectives of seeing. This approach can also be detected in Warren Khong’s practice that expand its meaning into the realm of site-specificity, with reconsideration of the act and process of painting as part of everyday. For Ian Woo and Ruben Pang, it is the development of frameworks for image-making that help to generate possibilities for abstraction and figuration.
Collectively, REFORMATIONS is an exploration of some of these developments in post 2000 Singapore painting, and a precursor towards a proposition for a successive generation of “post-modern” painting. While it is not an exhaustive presentation of artists who have been working critically in this domain, the selected works suggest a reflexivity and reformation of the ways where meaning and representation may occur within the medium that may yet be, a starting point to imagine what painting could be.
Sullivan+Strumpf acknowledge the Indigenous People of this land, the traditional custodians on whose Country we work, live and learn. We pay respect to Elders, past and present, and recognise their continued connection to culture, land, waters and community.