Wong is unflinching when it comes to the unconventional. While he is lauded as an award-winning painter, he also creates artistic interventions and spectacles.
Wong Lip Chin (b. 1987, Singapore) is an interdisciplinary artist based between Singapore, his practice spanning the range from painting to installation to performance. He began his artistic career as a painter, but his more recent creative trajectory is centered on multi-sensorial modalities in art, especially the olfactory, auditory and gustatory. His works tend toward a strongly autobiographical bent, dealing with issues and shifts in his personal life, which are often related through narratives involving Lilou and Oomoo. The latter are two manga-like characters that serve as the artist’s alter egos, and were borne of his life-long fascination with the imagery and pictorial language of the wider visual world, from film to comics to design. Of late, his works have also addressed themes concerning speculative or vernacular histories pertinent to the folkloric traditions of the Sinosphere.
Wong is unflinching when it comes to the unconventional. The artist maintains his studio in his father’s car mechanic workshop where he is influenced by the techniques of car painting as well as race car logos. He also creates artistic interventions and spectacles: One might recall his repurposed vintage bus stop Exquisite Paradox (2013) on the front lawn of Singapore Art Museum, which brought the concept of Marcel Duchamp’s readymade to a sentiment much closer to home. Informed by the ethos of relational aesthetics, a postmodernist concept where an artist replicates an environment for people to participate in, he has staged numerous art encounters in Singapore for the public to engage with over the years. From an homage to Joseph Beuys inSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat(2020)—a live performance where he read excerpts from an animal rights text before a cow, to his most recent installation The Gathering: 千岁宫 qiānsuì gōng(2022) at Chinatown, which invited audiences to sit down for a tea ceremony and enjoy the tranquillity as ancient Chinese scholars did some 1600 years ago; Wong seeks out novel ways to bring East Asian culture and heritage, as well as Western art historical canon, to contemporary and local relevance. His paintings can be said to exude a similar attitude in bridging such dualities (past and present, East and West, highbrow and philistine), perhaps with a greater sense of humour and irreverence.
Wong was trained in printmaking at LASALLE College of the Arts, and graduated with a B.A. in 2009. He also served as an adjunct lecturer at the institution from 2014 to 2018. His first solo exhibition, “Now You See” (2009), which took place while he was still a student, was the result of a month-long residency organized in collaboration with the Marina Mandarin Hotel. His most recent solo outing, “Thousand Knives” (2015), was held at Galerie Michael Janssen, Singapore. Selected group exhibitions include those at STPI, Singapore (2007); National University of Singapore Museum (2009); ShanghArt, Singapore (2013); Yavuz Gallery, Singapore (2013); Yeo Workshop, Singapore (2014); Wei-Ling Gallery, Penang, Malaysia (2015); Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea (2015); Rarytas Art Foundation, Poznan, Poland (2016); 2 Cavan Road, Singapore (2020). Other projects include Fetter Field: Singapore Performance Art Event (2007); DRIVE, Gillman Barracks (2014); Singapore Art Museum Front Lawn commission (2016). In 2017, Wong set up Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones, a multi-concept store involving F&B, retail and lifestyle components. Recently, he was awarded the UOB Painting of the Year 2021 (Singapore) Bronze Award.