At first mention, GESS might seem a tad intimidating and you half expect it to be filled with German students. One thing’s for sure, this school is open to everyone and there are no criteria whatsoever. Art lovers will surely enjoy the Arts programme the school offers, which aims to provide students a better understanding of art history and experience Singapore’s rich culture and art scene. In fact, GESS has had plenty of collaborations with Singaporean artists. Rainer Geburzyk, Head of the Art Department at GESS speaks to us gives an insight on German art.
THINK: What are the various courses that your school offers?
RAINER GEBURZYK: Art is a mandatory subject that covers all aspects of visual arts. Additionally, we have a lot of Co-Curriculum Activities (CCA) that deals with art-based activities like drawing, painting, pottery and photography. One good example that I can give you is the Chinese brush painting program with Mr. Poh Siew Wah, a well-known Singaporean artist painting with acrylics on canvas.
THINK: Define German Art; is it any different from other art forms?
RAINER: In the so-called times of globalization the art scene is a very international matter. Joseph Beuys was the last very important German artist who was seen as a typical German phenomenon. I found a lot of ideas in his work are very closely connected to Taoist theory and its philosophical principles. And wasn’t he often called a shaman?
THINK: What’s the most distinct aspect of German art?
RAINER: I don’t think one culture can have a “distinct” aspect when it comes to art. What one person might see as distinct factor or aspect will certainly be quite different from another’s opinion. But isn’t that the joy of art?
THINK: How’s the art scene in Germany like?
RAINER: I have now been living in Singapore for 6 years. I am constantly astonished at how vibrant the art scene is in Germany. Even in economically difficult times, a lot of money is spent on art, both from the state side and from the private sector. There are not only art museums, collections and important exhibitions in places like Berlin but also in the smaller cities. What is most pleasing is that people come and share the art together. The crowds that came to watch the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (MOMA) New York in Berlin is one good example of this. Furthermore, Berlin is becoming more and more vibrant. Artists from all over the world open their art studios and exhibit in Berlin and other cities in Germany.
THINK: How would you compare it to the arts scene in Singapore?
RAINER: In my opinion, the arts scene in Germany is more competitive and vibrant. I like the arts scene in Singapore very much as well. It gives me the sense of being a part of a big family and people are very open-minded with the art pieces and performances that are coming in to Singapore.
THINK: What does art mean to you?
RAINER: Art means a lot to me. It is about appreciating one’s creativity and cultural background. I believe this quote; “The first man was an artist” by Barnett Newman would the best answer to your question.
THINK: There are various forms of art; which is your favourite form? What’s your most favourite piece of art?
RAINER: I don’t have any favourite forms of art. In my opinion, the more you know and understand art and the creativity that goes into the process, the more you will love it. I paint and give performances.
I have a lot of favourite art pieces. One of my favourite pieces of art would be The “Bicycle Wheel” by Marcel Duchamp. His “Ready Mades” were a real revolution with a great influence on nearly everything that came after this idea. The “Bicycle Wheel” has a profound philosophical background and it gives the possibility for real meditation which I think has a very close relation to Asian traditions.
THINK: Any advice for aspiring artists out there?
RAINER: Trust yourself! Keep busy! Do not only do your art, study art history and philosophy! Be present at art events!