3-D art wows visitors

People can touch the artworks, interact with them and take photos with them

Housewife Tan Hing Lan and her daughter Janelle Tan, seven, with Grandpa’s Toothache at Alive Museum at Suntec City Mall on June 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Housewife Tan Hing Lan and her daughter Janelle Tan, seven, with Grandpa’s Toothache at Alive Museum at Suntec City Mall on June 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Ng Hsin Rong, 10, in a Kayak at Alive Museum at Suntec City Mall on June 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Visitors posing with a 3-D artwork The Mammoth Rope at the Trick Eye Museum at Resorts World Sentosa’s waterfront. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Illustrator Benjamin Qwek with part of his 3-D artwork at The Connoisseur Concerto (TCC) in Circular Road. -- ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO
Skydiving at the Trick Eye Museum at Resorts World Sentosa’s waterfront. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

You can touch and hug the art pieces or even step inside and snap photos with them.

That is the draw of trompe l'oeil artwork - two-dimension paintings which look like threedimensional scenes and objects, thanks to an optical illusion.

It is the main attraction of two new museums and one exhibition showing at a gallery here this month.

The past week has seen the launch of two museums from South Korea with trompe l'oeil artwork.

The Trick Eye Museum opened at Resorts World Sentosa on Sunday and Alive Museum in Suntec City yesterday.

Visitors pay an entrance fee to tour the museums.

They can take photos of themselves posing with the paintings and sculptures, blending in with the scenery through a "trick" of the eye.

Local cafe The Connoisseur Concerto, or TCC, is exhibiting a selection of such three-dimensional art at its gallery in Circular Road.

The exhibition PantoneMyArt - 3-D In Colour opens today and runs until Oct 6, showcasing works from local artists such as Benjamin Qwek and Clogtwo.

It is the first time the gallery is showcasing 3-D art, and similarly, viewers are encouraged to interact with the works.

The artworks at the two museums here are hand-painted by anonymous Korean artists.

Visitors can look forward to the original pieces created by them which incorporate local icons such as the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands.

Alive Museum, which first opened in 2009 on Jeju island, now sees about 1.5 million visitors a year, compared with 670,000 visitors in 2011.

Its initial popularity was partly due to its appearance in a popular Korean drama, Heartstrings, starring Park Shin Hye and CNBlue lead singer Jung Yong Hwa.

Seoul's Trick Eye Museum, which opened in 2010, has seen a similar surge in visitors from 167,000 visitors in 2011 to more than 500,000 last year.

Known as 3-D art, such works are not new, with artists in Europe and the United States decorating pavements with chalk paintings that create the illusion of a three-dimensional scene.

These eventually get washed away by rain.

In recent years, corporations here have used 3-D art pieces to engage the public.

British artist Julian Beever was commissioned by Nokia in 2007 to do pavement art outside Raffles City Shopping Centre. In 2010, he did a 3-D drawing of a Hilton Hotel in VivoCity.

Two years ago, American artist Kurt Wenner produced a piece for Changi Airport Terminal 3's Departure Hall for its retail promotion.

Such art has a particular appeal for snap-happy Asians.

"I was attracted by how we could take interesting and realistic photos with the exhibits," says Ms Karen Koh, 23, an undergraduate who visited the Trick Eye museum in Seoul in 2012.

She is excited that a branch of the museum is coming here and says: "Everything inside seems so fascinating to me."


Playing tricks on your eyes

Visitors can ride a Merlion or float above a chair at the Trick Eye Museum at Resorts World Sentosa's waterfront.

Trick Eye, which opened on Sunday, features 80 paintings and optical illusions, 50 of which were created or adapted for the space here. This is the museum's first branch outside South Korea.

The art is installed in six themed zones within an 800 sq m space.

The themes include Dreams Of Fairytale, where visitors can pose with babies of different races on a park bench, and Adventure Discovery, where people can ride the waves on a swimming Merlion.

"We hope to reflect Singapore's beautiful landscape and city atmosphere in our works," says Ms Mandy Foo, the museum's assistant marketing manager.

Another piece that is unique to the museum here, says Ms Foo, is a sculpture of a giant baby that is thrice the size of a person.

"You can even climb on top of the giant baby," she says. "We encourage visitors to touch our sculptures and interact with them."

The museum's Korean curator Sujin Oh says its "greatest fulfilment will be the looks of awe and amazement on people's faces".

There are two other Trick Eye museums in South Korea, with more overseas branches to come.

The one here complements a Korean-themed cluster of six retail shops on a 100m stretch that will open in the third quarter of this year at Resorts World Sentosa.

Optical illusions come alive

The art pieces in Alive Museum do not just appear realistic in photos, some of them also boast special effects such as videos and actual wind that will whip your hair.

Among these effects is a duel scene out of the video game, Street Fighter, complete with gusts of air that blow at visitors to make it seem like they are actually thrown backwards by a force.

"We introduce new technologies and concepts every quarter," says Mr Woo Sang Heo, head of the museum's creative division.

Of the duel piece, created by Alive's research and development team in South Korea, he says: "This piece, which combines art with mechanical systems, is part of the cutting-edge technology available at Alive Museum."

Like Trick Eye, Alive also has pieces created by unnamed Korean artists that make references to local icons, such as a bird's eye view of the Singapore skyline and a caricature of Sir Stamford Raffles.

The museum, spanning around 930 sq m, displays 70 hand-painted works, with 20 more to come by the end of the year. Visitors can look forward to artwork customised for festivals such as Christmas and Chinese New Year.

Alive has eight branches in South Korea where it started and six other museums in countries such as China, Thailand and Turkey.

Step into a world of pantone colours

Those who drop by The Connoisseur Concerto (TCC) in Circular Road for a cuppa are now in for an immersive experience.

Its walls will be covered with 3-D artwork by eight artists, each featuring a different style and colour. It is a new experience for many of these artists.

"I've not done 3-D art on this scale, where you can make someone feel like he's inside it," says artist Race Krehel, 28, whose futuristic piece incorporates windows on The Gallery's second level. "I just hope it works."

Others like Benjamin Qwek have more experience with 3-D art. The 32-year-old illustrator has been working with 3-D floor art for two years.

"I've never done anything on walls before and that was my main difficulty," he says. "Since this is for a gallery, it is not just about creating a scene for people to pose with. By itself, it has to look like a finished art piece."

The exhibition is organised by TCC and art-management.com, which promotes and manages artists.

Says art-management's founder Claude Verly: "The other challenge was playing with what we have here, like the lighting and the walls."

The 48-year-old is no stranger to 3-D artwork and has long wanted to feature it here.

The show is successful if visitors play with the art, he says.

This is the fourth edition of the PantoneMyArt series, which showcases works of up to 10 artists each time and was launched in 2011.

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