Spaced Out

No longer is art confined to the traditional gallery. Various factors such as the desire for more freedom, the ephemeral nature of certain art works and exorbitant gallery commissions are driving more and more young local artists away from the well-trodden art path. Instead of turning to a typical gallery, they set up or choose edgy, unconventional art places to put up shows or art-related events. We bring you a list of these alternative spaces.
Located in a bohemian street where several designers and artists live, ShowHaus Gallery (10 Kuo Chuan Ave., 6247-9347) is a work place, a living area and an exhibition venue for artists Nathaniel Walters, Nick Charnley and Mickey Koh. They last organized the show Kuo Chuan Lifestyles, featuring an eclectic range of eccentric art works. “We discovered that the street was full of artists and designers. We invited them to exhibit with us—whoever wished to participate could do so. We ended up with a wide variety of work, ranging from ceramics and glass to a sculpture and a video installation,” Charnley says. “Subsequent exhibitions will not necessarily be limited to residents of the street. The criteria for being part of these shows are as yet undecided, but it is likely that the range of artists and media will remain broad.”
Your MOTHER Gallery (91A Hindoo Rd., 9787-7874) is another exhibition area which also functions as a dwelling. The home of artists Lina Adam and Jeremy Hiah, this venue has had cutting-edge works from young talents such as Warren Khong and Hiah himelf. As its irreverent and wacky name suggests, the freedom to express is the owners’ guiding philosophy for the space’s uses.
Also straying away from commercial galleries is instinc (23 Emerald Hill Rd., 6735-9867), a studio as well as an indie exhibition venue by abstract artists Valerie Ng, Wyn-Lyn Tan and Yeo Shih Yun. Ingenious shows, such as Bag It which showed works ranging from collages to sculptures, fabric works to installations, have been organized here. “Some artists who are from overseas but who are residing in Singapore have participated in our group and solo shows. We also hold group and solo exhibitions by the three of us to showcase our works intermittently,” Yeo claims. “The people that come to the shows vary from tourists to art students, executives to designers, architects to other artists and art lovers or collectors.”
Another atypical arts area is the tunnel that leads to Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay at Citylink Mall (1 Raffles Link, 6238-1121). Three of the display windows located here are called tickleart, and often showcase innovative contemporary art. Located strategically in a shopping mall, the space allows artists to engage the public in their works. “To create the exhibition A Roomful of Old Ladies, artist Mithun Jayaram sat in the tunnel for over a month and asked people to help him sharpen pencils. Using the shavings collected, he produced this beautiful installation,” Susie Wong, co-curator of tickleart reveals.
Much like the Esplanade Tunnel, the wall opposite the display windows at Citylink Mall is also a hot alternative spot for putting up absorbing art work, especially photographs. These visuals change approximately every two months. “The objective of showcasing photographs in a shopping mall is to reach a wider audience, people who do not necessarily go to a gallery to see an exhibition,” comments local photographer Tan Ngiap Heng, who has unveiled works there before. “Hopefully, they will be engaged with the images and enjoy them and even desire to learn more about photography as an art form.”
Besides homes and shopping malls, art is also invading eateries. An outlet of tcc (The Coffee Connoisseur) (51 Circular Rd., 6533-9033) for example, features works of distinguished foreign and local artists. Painter Rajavelu and lensman Ray Ong are among the list of creatives who have held shows here, and this month, local photographer Charlie Lim is featured. “The artist’s creative flair and distinctive style has won him both national and overseas recognition. tcc will be showcasing his photography works that were created with a unique ‘painting’ technique,” states Abbey Chang, tcc’s assistant vice president of business development. “We try to feature art works that are unique and different; whose theme aligns with tcc’s brand statement of being bold and different.”
Another great alternative art space is the Indonesian café Warong M Nasir (69 Killiney Rd., 6734-6228). The shows here are organized by a group of street and contemporary artists who dub themselves Wunderspaze. “We want to expose artists from the regions, especially young artists, through the café’s wall and exhibition space, and to provide an alternative space for artists to show works,” quips Khairuddin Hori, Wunderspaze’s artistic director. “My focus is to showcase Southeast Asian artists, or people who have an interest in Southeast Asia. There is too much European and American stuff around anyway.” Look out for a game show, and avant-garde installations and videos soon to be disclosed in this little-known café-cum-gallery.
A group of local art practitioners who call themselves p-10 (10 Perumal Rd., 6294-0041) has a space which hosts a myriad of activities from workshops to discussions, talks to residency programs. Exhibitions are held in this rented area only occasionally, transforming the premise into a transitory alternative exhibition space. We believe that there is a lot more to art than just putting up exhibitions,” Jennifer Teo, a member of p-10, explains. “p-10 is interested in creating dialogue, networking, publishing and engaging the public, and we try to do these through various activities.”
No longer does anyone have to drag their feet to the archetypal gallery for a dose of art. Fast venturing into homes, eateries and shopping malls, partaking in art is fast becoming a lifestyle. These cool, casual and unusual exhibition spaces bring art closer to the public, and are also a testimony to the escalating creativity of local young talents.