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Artist Suzann Victor keeps pushing boundaries to connect with the public through art

Artist Suzann Victor keeps pushing boundaries to ensure that art connects with the public

Published on Jul 28, 2014 11:16 AM

It was a move unheard of in its time. In 1988, Singaporean artist Suzann Victor (right) and her art school classmates took over a stretch of Orchard Road with their abstract prints and paintings.

They had no permission to occupy the public sidewalk outside Orchard Point shopping centre or licence to set up a makeshift exhibition on the busy thoroughfare. But the handful of students from Lasalle College of the Arts went ahead and displayed their works on the ground.

Their intention was pure. They believed fine art could be brought to the man in the street and they were eager to have their works connect with the public.

They were also brave. Their abstract, sometimes monochromatic paintings were hardly the flavour of the day - showing them was to court the open rejection of many.

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Background story

My life so far

“My adoptive parents have always told me, ‘Don’t feel like you’ve been rejected or discarded. It’s because you’re so special, that’s why you’re wanted in this family’. They’ve always created a grammar for my life, a way of processing and apprehending life and I absolutely have no guilt about loving them.”

On being an adopted child

“It was so radical to abandon the easel and pour paint on the floor. How much more anarchic, rebellious and brave can you get? And no one believed you. The thing about art is, if you’re pushing boundaries, if you’re doing something that presents a paradigmatic shift, no one believes you.”

On her encounter with abstract expressionist art and artists such as Jackson Pollock in art school

“I still feel the inaccuracy of history and education on the role of 5th Passage. Not a lot of people know that it happened and its significance, and what 5th Passage did. Singapore had this innovative and progressive space that was prepared to engage with the non-official circuit of artists.”

On her view of 5th Passage and the event it co-organised, which led to the proscription of performance art

“Funding for contemporary art is constantly being cut in other countries but Singapore and Singapore artists are very lucky to have a country that is so supportive of contemporary art and infrastructure. Artists now are much luckier than us in the days of 5th Passage. But it cuts both ways. Hunger is creativity too.”

On making art in Singapore