Francis Ng Teck Yang

As a Singaporean artist he is heavily influenced by the physical environment of this small island. HDB estates can produce artists as well as provide a home for thousands. Francis makes a connection between the buildings that surround us and the way people think.

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We learn from the space. So it is that the uniform, regulated, demarcation of the estates so many Singaporeans are housed in creates minds that opt for conformity, take comfort from reliance and avoid independence.

He admits that the positive side exists too; the community, neighbours who get to know you, stories and experiences that are shared. But there is always tension, between what can be gained and what’s lost.

Singapore is a constant building site, upgraded estates, new luxury developments, bigger better malls. Francis sees the effect this progress has on the people. “The amount of new build projects that go on is overwhelming, the people who are displaced by the upgrades and renovations are often marginalised”.

Again the connection between space and minds – the progress of physical spaces forces a mental attitude change – a modernisation of minds. I ask if he sees this as a choice. “No, they have no choice”.

Francis sees his art as an attempt to “intervene” in a space, deconstruct and chop it up. Again back to HDB’s he points out the amount of straight lines that exist there. He wants to interrupt them with curves. I suggest that this is quite subversive, he laughs nervously behind his Warhol like fringe “Yes, it is”.

Francis teaches at NAFA, as well as working on a solo show planned for next year. His well known “I was here” installation, that has featured all over the island, will be making an appearance on foreign shores in the future. On his recent 2006 NAC Art Award Francis is humble. “I was happy to receive it. It gives me some recognition from the art community, encourages me to be courageous and to do more work”.

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