Singapore painters' works in 360-degree virtual exhibition

Artist Poh Siew Wah's Oriental Highness 2016, acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm. Art by three generations of Singapore painters will be displayed in the online exhibition Art. Access. Appreciation, including Sujak Rahman's Anak 1 (above).
Artist Poh Siew Wah's Oriental Highness 2016, acrylic on canvas, 100x120cm. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTPODIUM

Art by three generations of Singapore painters will soon go on display at The Arts House, albeit in the virtual realm.

Thanks to immersive 360-degree technology, visitors can click on a Web link and use their mouse to navigate the old Parliament House, taking in the colonial-era architecture as well as the 50 paintings on the walls. Digitalised paintings on virtual walls, that is - the actual works remain with the artists.

Art. Access. Appreciation, as the exhibition is called, runs from Friday to Sept 27 and is organised by online community Artpodium.

It features abstract, figurative and landscape works by 21 Singapore artists from the second and third generations and beyond.

The artworks are for sale and about a tenth of the proceeds will go to ItsRainingRaincoats, an initiative that benefits migrant workers in Singapore.

Artpodium's founder Kavita Raha, 58, says she had lined up several physical events this year, but was forced to cancel them because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, she still wanted to support the artists and keep art lovers and collectors engaged.

"I realised soon enough that embracing technology was going to be the way forward... For a non-techie like me, this was both daunting and exciting at the same time, but I decided to take the plunge,"she says.

She engaged two tech firms. This cost several thousand dollars, defrayed by a Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts from the National Arts Council.

Co-curator Seah Tzi-Yan, director of arts training and outreach company T.H.E.O. Arts Professionals, says that while the show features some well-known names such as Boo Sze Yang, it also spotlights artists who have not been seen much on the auction or mainstream gallery circuit, such as living second-generation painters Chang Chin Fai, Cristene Chang Hoei, Poh Siew Wah and Sujak Rahman.

"We were also looking at work that was particularly uplifting," Ms Seah adds. These include third-generation artist Sunar Sugiyou's Lady With The Yellow Umbrella and Danya Yu's city scenes.

Artist Cristene Chang Hoei, 77, is presenting two oil-based mixed media works inspired by the sea.


Art by three generations of Singapore painters will be displayed in the online exhibition Art. Access. Appreciation, including Sujak Rahman’s Anak 1 (above). PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTPODIUM

"I feel very close to the sea not just because of my memories of my childhood and youth in the East Coast, but also because of its poetic and literary force," says Chang.

"In both works, I tried to create certain sensations and qualities about the sea using my home studio press to produce grooves and textures on thick paper...

"There are paradoxical elements - the sea has a solidity and mass that suggest an enduring presence, but it is not static and always moving, especially with changing light.

"I try to convey subtle transitions with many layers of oil-based inks."

In the future, Ms Raha would like to organise "hybrid" exhibitions where physical shows run concurrently with virtual ones.

"We put in so much effort to curate a show, but we don't really archive it. (Now) we can capture every facet of the venue, each and every artist and each and every artwork. We can also market it globally," she says.

• Art. Access. Appreciation goes online (bit.ly/2ZDBNFw) on Friday at 10am. For more information, go to www.artpodium.com.sg or e-mail info@artpodium.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore painters' works in 360-degree virtual exhibition'. Print Edition | Subscribe