Wong Bing Hao

  • You Khin, Untitled (The Tailors and the Mannequins), 1981, oil on canvas, 32 5⁄8 × 23 5⁄8".

    Chen Cheng Mei and You Khin

    The onus of universal (read: Euro-American and Anglocentric) translatability is the bane of regionally specific art. “The Tailors and the Mannequins: Chen Cheng Mei and You Khin,” curated by Roger Nelson, conjectures alternatives to this chronic imposition. It is the inaugural exhibition of the National Gallery Singapore’s Dalam Southeast Asia project space—dalam is a Malay word that can mean “inside,” “deep,” or “within”—dedicated to underrepresented art-historical narratives with an emphasis on works from the collection.

    The two artists make an odd pair, and connections between them are oblique.

  • A work by Eduardo Enrique at the Tanjong Pagar Distripark. All photos by author.
    diary February 01, 2022

    Constant Craving

    OVER MIDNIGHT HOTPOT, artist Ming Wong, curator Kenji Praepipatmongkol, and I pored over the hefty catalogue for Singapore Art Week (SAW) 2022, which earlier this month boasted a staggering 130-plus virtual and in-person events, the most in its decade-long history. This year’s off-kilter mascot—blue googly eyes against a yellow background, reminiscent of the Cookie Monster—was true to its slogan: “Art Takes Over.” The sheer volume of events seemed to suggest Singapore’s ravenous appetite for art.

    For the second year in a row, the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, a shipping-port/warehouse-turned-art-nucleus,

  • Choy Ka Fai’s exhibition “CosmicWander: Expedition” presented by Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. All photos unless noted: Wong Bing Hao.
    diary February 03, 2021

    See Saw

    ABOUT A DECADE AGO, the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, an unassuming warehouse turned gallery hub whose tenants included Galerie Steph, Ikkan Art International, and Valentine Willie Fine Art, was touted as the “edgy” gathering spot for the Singapore art scene. Not long after, in late 2012, Gillman Barracks, another visual arts cluster home to local and international galleries and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, was inaugurated with much fanfare. After the confetti fell, both art precincts publicly dealt with their fair share of tribulations: a revolving door of occupants, criticisms of unnecessary

  • Kazuo Kuniyoshi, Terua, Koza City was called by the nickname “Black People’s Town.” (Kokujingai), 1971, ink-jet print, 15 3/4 × 22 1/2". From “Wishful Images: When Microhistories Take Form.”

    “Wishful Images”

    On the exhibition’s oblique threshold, visitors can read a statement. Both addressing and signed “All citizens of the Republic of Ryukyu,” the letter declares a collective creation of a “social constitution” for “an entirely autonomous society.” This hopeful announcement is in fact the opening of a 1981 poem by Kawamitsu Shinichi, penned more than a century after Japan dissolved the nominally independent Ryukyu Kingdom to form what we know today as the Okinawa Prefecture. By entering the exhibition space, visitors acknowledge and come under the jurisdiction of this constitution.

    Titled “Wishful

  • Truong Tan, Ablaze, 2019, mixed media on wood, 31 1⁄2 × 47 1⁄4".

    Truong Tan

    Truong Tan, known as Vietnam’s “first openly gay artist,” has also been called an enfant terrible. No stranger to controversy, he has had his fair share of run-ins with Vietnam’s cultural censors, having made works addressing thorny issues such as male homosexuality and police corruption. It was with no small surprise, then, that I encountered this latest exhibition: a presentation of lacquer paintings portraying planets suspended in galaxies. Accompanying these twenty-four works were two large-scale fabric installations and a vitrine displaying the tools and materials used in his working process.