STRAITS TIMES | Local artist apologies after gallery removes his work over his racially charged online posts

Malavika Menon, The Straits Times, January 15, 2020

SINGAPORE - Local artist Jonathan Lim has apologised for his actions after his paintings at a visual art gallery in Kallang were removed following his racially charged social media posts against co-artist Priyageetha Dia and her friend.

His social media posts on Jan 10 sparked an online backlash and a discussion among netizens and artists about inclusivity in Singapore's art community.

When contacted by The Straits Times on Tuesday (Jan 14), Mr Lim reiterated his apology and added that he accepted the consequences of his words.

 

The controversy was ignited by his remarks on an incident at the joint opening night of two consecutive exhibitions at NPE Art Residency and Gallery. They were to feature his works and those of Ms Priyageetha, an installation artist.

Both aged 28, they had signed residency contracts with the gallery last October.

At the opening on Jan 9, Mr Lim alleged in his post that Ms Priyageetha's friend, whom he identified as Ms Chand Chandramohan, had laughed when guest of honour Ben Slater, an associate chair (students) at Nanyang Technological University, used the word iconoclastic.

 

Ms Chand subsequently said in a Facebook post that Mr Slater told her the word he wanted to use was iconography.

 

Mr Lim described her actions as "fundamentally socially inadequate" and "unkind" and used a racial slur against the two women, who are of Indian descent.

He also referred to them as members of a minority cult, adding that he was not afraid of people "who try to oppress me with the abuse of their minority privilege".

But later in the day, he apologised on social media for his earlier comments.