The Straits Times
Published on Nov 19, 2012

Ghostly flowers come alive in local artist's show


Is painting dead in Singapore? Some observers have been making worried noises about how most of the interesting contemporary art here is made in trendier media such as video, photography and installation.

Young contemporary artist Tan Guo-liang makes a case for painting with an exhibition, Play Dead. The show runs till Dec 23 at Space Cottonseed, a gallery at the Gillman Barracks.

The 12 enigmatic paintings on show are inspired by floral arrangements in still life paintings, images which Tan Googled obsessively on the Internet. His favourite artists for reference are the flower paintings by 19th-century French artists Edouard Manet and Henri Fantin-Latour.

Holding these images in his head, he painted the flowers but removed the vessels that held them. The result are still, ghostly images that draw on a tradition of still life as memento mori, reminding viewers that all things come to pass. At the same time, the artworks, with their gestural brushstrokes, and their dramatic textures, have a physical immediacy. These are paintings conscious of their status as paintings.