Wong Lip Chin: sometimes i (you) don’t dive hard enough
Exhibition dates: 06 September - 01 November 2020
Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 - 07:00pm
Sunday: 12:00 - 06:00pm
Curated by Louis Ho
Digital Exhibition Design by Emerse
Recorded Performance by Wong Lip Chin, Directed by Jacky Lee (TheBoyWhoCriedAction)
This show comes with a digital exhibition in the form of a video game, taking you through a dazzling city of the artist's design, available to play in the gallery and in a downloadable app.
From the appropriation of an entire bus stop, to getting tattoo-ed as part of an exhibition opening, to a performance involving a live cow, Singaporean artist Wong Lip Chin’s practice is defined less by the logic of conceptual themes or visual motifs, but rather by an attitude of unconventional risk-taking and a spirited, venturous approach towards art and visuality that would be termed, in popular parlance, ‘crazy’. One of his most recent pieces, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat (2020), was a performance staged at 2 Cavan Road, in which the artist read aloud excerpts from Hal Herzog’s eponymous text on animal rights to a live cow, as part of his homage to Joseph Beuys’ seminal work, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare.
The present exhibition marks Wong’s first solo collaboration with Yeo Workshop. The title of the show is a sound clip, which can be accessed only by scanning the QR code - designed by the artist - that serves as a key visual reference; the show is also subtitled “sometimes i (you) don‘t dive hard enough”. Most of the paintings in the exhibition were produced in 2014, when Wong was a relatively young artist, and struggling to articulate a personal creative vision and to negotiate his place in the broad, complex world of contemporary art. Viewed collectively, these works offer an almost diaristic glimpse of the artist’s mental universe at that stage in his life, an autobiographical tale told in a series of flatly delineated, vibrantly coloured images that evoke the pictorial vocabulary of graphic design or comic books. Wong’s paintings, in fact, may be said to recall a particular lineage of postmodernist aesthetics, namely, Pop Art. Influenced by popular culture and mass consumerism, Pop artists set out to blur the distinctions between high art and the broader realm of contemporary visual culture, and Wong’s image-making here likewise exploits that uneasy intersection between critical commentary and consumerist-driven appeal. Highlights of the exhibition include works that mimic the style of major stars and movements of contemporary art, e.g. Yayoi Kusama, monochromatic abstraction, graffiti. These works reflect not just his indebtedness to art history, but are also indirect statements on the nature of the art world, where the line between homage and plagarism, between appropriation and copyright infringement, grows ever more porous, and what was once viewed as the signifier of artistic inspiration becomes flattened out into visual cliche and caricature. Other works in the series serve as deeply personal revelations of Wong’s life as a young artist: his body image issues and sexual preoccupations, intellectual interests and Singaporean identity.
Click here to see a snippet of our exhibition on Artsy's Viewing Room.
About the Artist
Wong (b. 1987) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Singapore. Wong began his artistic career with a solo exhibition while still a student at LASALLE College of the Arts, but came to broader public notice with his installation, Exquisite Paradox (2013). The work was a repurposed, vintage bus stop, which the artist first presented as readymade sculpture in an indoor gallery space, and was later displayed on the front lawn of the Singapore Art Museum. Other notable works include a two-man performance with Boedi Widjaja, My drawing is better than your drawing (2014), which saw him being tattoo-ed on the opening night of “A Drawing Show”, a group exhibition held in 2014 at Yeo Workshop. Wong has also ventured into F&B, design and retail, having run Jefu, a ramen hawker stall at Maxwell Food Centre, where he curated all aspects of the dining experience, from the tableware to the layout of the counter. More recently, in 2017, he set up Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones, a concept restaurant, lifestyle space and retail outlet at Orchard Central. He designed the space, which was inspired by architectural and design movements such as Memphis Milano, Bauhaus and Brutalism.
About the Curator
Louis Ho trained in art history, his research interest includes Southeast Asian visual culture and the intersections between art, social and cinema. He has lectured at the National Institute of Education, Singapore and is a contributor to various journals, publications, such as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture and ArtAsia Pacific. He was previously a curator at the Singapore Art Museum, where his first exhibition was the permanent collection show, ‘After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asia Contemporary Art’; other exhibitions included the ‘Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize 2018’ show.
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