People in odd clothing discuss its meaning and rich people prove just how rich they are by buying famous pieces of it. Not anymore – whilst you’re trawling shops, exercising your personal debt or having a quiet cup of coffee, you may be visually assaulted by random pieces of art.
In some cases you may not even know it; the spotty trees on Orchard Road could have easily been mistaken for a random marketing stunt for some yet unknown brand of vodka.
The recent Singapore Biennale used this technique to great effect; you may have been off to the Mosque for prayers and stumbled across a piece of highly conceptual contemporary art. In fact the curators gave Singaporean’s no choice about whether they went to the Biennale at all, sticking art works in the most visited places. The places we worship our gods in, temples and shopping malls.
It makes sense in some ways; bringing the art to the people – having had enough of waiting for them to come to it freely. Sticking a video installation in a church is an interesting prospect. However the requirements of the space can sometimes override the integrity and value of the art. Vivocity provides a great example of this. The contrived frivolity of this bland and soulless monstrosity is beautifully captured in the ludicrous art works that were created for it. In particular the lanky snowman who grins down at the crowds below.
Aside from the ubiquitous mall there are several other places you can go to check out art that has escaped from the formal gallery. Turn the page and check out three really cool spots…
A brush with serenity: a meditative approach to art
Upper Circular Road, www.thecoffeeconnoisseur.com
A brush with serenity: a meditative approach to art, Cherry Grant, 17 November – 29 December
It kind of fits with the image of TCC to have art in its space. In its bid to be the home of sophisticated coffee slurping it makes sense that they attempt to associate them selves with the high brow. Really the art is there as decoration, it’s not a place you go to just look at the art – you may feel the need to buy some overpriced coffee.
It’s also pretty busy there on a weekend evening. You have to stare over the heads of floppy people who lounge on velvet cushions scooping cream into their mouths. It’s kind of surprising to find an art exhibition in a coffee shop amongst the dark, seedy bars of the Boat Quay area. But the art isn’t really particularly taxing; it’s not anything that will offend nothing highly conceptual.
As you’d expect – TCC is about luxury, hedonism and making money. No place for works with any social, metaphysical or political commentary. To fit the ambience of relaxation Cherry Grant’s work is calming, with simple lines and cool colours. Like TCC’s liquid offerings it is pleasurable work, sensual.
Pitch Black, Haji Lane
Haji Lane, www.pitchblack.com.sg
Undeclared Existence, November 13 – December 1
The feel here is a bit of a contrast to Boat Quay and TCC. Independent, hidden away -with an industrial style interior this is a cafe come gallery, come cinema.
To fit the space the art work is a bit darker, in all senses of the word. Hardware materials are used on canvas to create textured, contemplatitive, emotional pieces.
The Pitch Black of the name features in the art too, with a rich gooey bitumen drawing you into the thoughts and ideas behind the work. This art is not necessarily meant to please, but to make you think and feel. As well as the pieces in the cafe downstairs the work will be sharing a space with the cozy cinema for twenty on the second floor.
Outside of film viewing hours you can pop up and see it transformed into a different place. Get you timing right and you can get some beer, food, art and a film all together – all senses delighted.
Ann Siang Road, www.frontrowsingapore.com
Antipode, Till November 26
You can buy coffee here too, it’s comes in well designed boxes in with smart gold lettering. This boutique of food, gifts, sweets and other bloody expensive delights has clothing at level two and an art exhibition spanning three floors. It’s an interesting place to take a walk around, being the end of a row of shop house it has steep stairs and interesting angles a plenty.
I’m not sure how regular the customers are, the lights and air con had to be put on for me as I went up to the gallery space. Unless you knew what lay on the floors above you’d have missed the exhibition. The art works here are all from young local artists.
There’s a real mix of works, sculptured decapitated S & M style heads, pen drawings of cell like structures as well as a set of doll like scenes in light boxes on the walls. One of the most intriguing pieces is called ‘Hug’ it’s an intricate, deconstructed piece using textiles. It looks almost fragile and flowing, but it’s also structured and fixed – reminiscent of tailor’s patterns.
The whole collection is intelligent and interesting, which is surprising given the contents of the shop downstairs. If you have the cash you could always pick up some posh chocs or save up and buy some art and stick it somewhere really unusual – like your bathroom.