Catalogue - A Social Portrait of Singapore: The Critical Years - Photography by Loke Hong Seng

  Loke Hong Seng    

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Catalogue for “A Social Portrait of Singapore: The Critical Years” published on occasion of exhibition “A Social Portrait of Singapore: The Critical Years” featuring Pioneer Generation artist Loke Hong Seng. The catalogue encompasses the following: An introduction on the historical context of the artist and his work by Audrey Yeo and essays by Gael Newton (formerly Senior Curator of Australian and International Photography, National Gallery of Australia), Zhuang Wubin (writer, curator, educator and photographer) and Gilles Massot (lecturer, LASALLE College of the Arts and NTU).

In concurrence with Singapore’s 50th National Day, A Social Portrait of Singapore: The Critical Years aims to introduce you to the impactful works of Loke Hong Seng. Notably recognised for his creative engagement in street photography between 1963 and 1985, the selection of works depict a culmination of 20 previously unpublished works. An active member of the Pioneer Generation whose work features as an insight into Singapore’s historical beginnings, this exhibition encourages a new reading of early photography at a time when photography struggled to establish itself as a viable medium. Other than its former uses in documentaries and archives, this selection exemplifies the crudeness of 20th century life.

Through an engaging and motivated effort to illustrate the transgressive progression of Singapore in a time of international establishment, the essence of daily life manifests. Capturing the emergence of a new republic in contrast with vernacular architecture and colonial buildings, the modern notion of familiarity is contextualised. HDB flats, which define Singapore’s distinctive cityscape, the reliance on water trade, and specifically the heroines of Singapore’s national growth - commonly known as Samsui women - are all aspects to be considered when referring to cultural significance.

Loke Hong Seng’s photographs are not merely nostalgic reminders of the past but rather reminders of the sacrifices made in the name of progress.

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