S’pore Art Museum’s new exhibition to supply healthy dose of local art

Check out the best of what up-and-coming artists in Singapore have to offer.

Guan Zhen Tan | Sponsored | November 02, 2018, 11:18 AM

Looking for a place of cultural interest, wanna check out somewhere new and artsy? Or even if you're just someone hard-pressed for an activity to do around Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum is the place to be.

What's in it for you

Emerging artists below the age of 35 have produced five newly-commissioned artworks in a one unique exhibition – President’s Young Talents 2018.

Developed under the guidance of artist mentors, visitors will see thought-provoking artworks that feature soil, amusement parks of old, bodily scars and spirits.

A long-running mentoring, commissioning and award programme established since 2011, it is the only programme of its kind in Singapore.

Previous iterations have produced successful artists who have gone on to garner recognition in both local and international circles.

Art for everyone

Don't worry about the exhibition being a bit too incomprehensible for the average museum-goer.

As it explores themes that are close to home and close to the heart of the artists, you're bound to find something relatable to you.


Photo by Tan Guan Zhen


Reflecting on scars

Take Chen Yanyun's The scars that write us, for example, which touches on scars, a topic close to her heart as Chen has keloids, an overgrowth of scar tissue that forms prominent scabs.


Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Her personal experiences with such scars, and the scars of her family members are reflected in her installation, with personal anecdotes to guide you along.

What's arresting about the piece is how she portrays the deeply vulnerable side of both physical and metaphorical scars, encouraging you to think about scars, be it your own or others, along with acceptance and healing.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Our soil in a different light

Visitors can also get up close and personal with soil in Debbie Ding's Soil Works, which features Singapore's unique, largely overlooked, composition from the ground.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen


Gathered from concealed public areas like under expressways, overhead bridges and car parks, it highlights what often goes unnoticed as Singapore's urban landscape continues to evolve and change over the years.

In her quest to investigate the soil of Singapore and highlighting its perceptible and less perceivable qualities, Soil Works explores the different types of soil, reminiscent of construction facades around the island.

One of the five components under Soil Works includes a projected "landscape" changing every now and then, via live footage of soil encased in an acrylic box tilted every couple of seconds.

The mesmerising footage of the shifting landscape is hypnotic, and viewers are invited to sit and watch different landscapes form before their eyes.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Exploring the historic and the mythic

For an immersive cultural experience, Pragmatic Prayers for the Kala at the Threshold is a fitting tribute and exploration into history, rituals and mythology from Singapore in the past.

Video content and effigies bring you back to a time when mythical legends and historical beliefs were still widespread, before they were developed into the areas they are today.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Three main divisions can be seen explored in this particular exhibition -  the hills of Bukit Larangan, which is where Fort Canning is today, the lands of Bras Basah, and the sea of Kallang.

Effigies which line the walls of the exhibition are all handmade by the artist and various community groups she has worked with. Like guardians of old, they keep watch over the space.


Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

sft crsh ctrl

It's not keysmash - the exhibition's title stands for “soft crash control”, and it's one of the more surreal exhibits that challenge you not to rationalise what you see.

Draped latex, hanging faux fur and some ASMR action playing on screens in different corners of the room will you fill in with a sense of colourful weirdness and eccentricity.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Photo courtesy of the Singapore Art Museum

Photo courtesy of the Singapore Art Museum

Alternative nostalgia

Lastly, let a different a wave of nostalgia hit you with Hilmi Johandi’s artwork, An Exposition.

His artwork, inspired by the three defunct 'world(s)’ in Singapore – namely the great amusement parks in Singapore's past, which is New World, Great World and Gay World (formerly Happy World).

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Instead of bright memories and cheery photos, silence accompanies you as you take a walk down an alternative memory lane of these parks.

With most of the people, crowd and spirit of these amusement parks removed, an uneasy emptiness haunts the artwork you see here.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Exhibition details

The exhibition is on at SAM till Jan. 27, 2019.

Visitors may cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award until Nov. 25, 2018.

The artwork with the most votes from the public will be awarded S$5,000 under the People's Choice Award.

An independent jury will award the grand prize to the best artwork.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a range of programmes, including artist performances, theatrical and music responses to the artworks, curator tours, talks and artist-led workshops to help you better appreciate the artworks.

Here are some of the upcoming workshops you can attend:

In Conversation: Skin, Scars and Trauma

Sun, 4 Nov, 3PM | $15 (Register here)

Do you have scars? What stories do they carry? Spill your emotions in a letter to your scar, with artist Yanyun Chen and art therapist Emylia Safian in this intimate sharing session.

Exploring the role of painting within an expanded practice

Sat, 17 Nov, 3PM | Free with registration here

Come explore and discuss the role of painting within a broader contemporary practice with PYT mentors and artists, David Chan, Roger Nelson, Hilmi Johandi and Yanyun Chen.

Kneading Kala: An Artist-led Workshop on the Genius Loci and Shapeshifting Stories on Space

Sat, 24 Nov, 2PM | $15 (Register here)

Come pen a letter or unleash your imagination in creating little figurines in remembrance of the stories of imagined, mythic or historical guardians of the hills, land and seas, in this artist-led workshop with artist, Zarina Muhammad.


The President’s Young Talents 2018

Date: Oct. 4, 2018 to Jan. 27, 2019

Venue: Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q

Time: Saturdays to Thursdays: 10am to 7pm, Fridays: 10am to 9pm

Admission fee: Free admission for Singaporeans and PR. See admission fees for others here.


This sponsored article is brought to you by the Singapore Art Museum, who makes sure that employees at Mothership can become more of a cultured club.

Top image adapted via photos courtesy of Singapore Art Museum, and photo by Tan Guan Zhen