Spotted! Loi Cai Xiang

If you were lucky enough to visit the Academy Rules exhibition at Chan Hampe Galleries, you may have spotted the work of Loi Cai Xiang, a fresh NAFA graduate with a diploma in fine art, western painting.

About his work: “This series of paintings is my attempt to record and contemplate the ordinaries. This  Mundane objects in prosaic settings take centrality in my composition. Through the passage of time, these entities I became familiar with have attributes that mark events and memories of my experiences. This effort to reminisce is an attempt to reconcile with my existential self. Recurring visuals that subtly shaped my routine, and successively given themselves shapes, became an important element in this pursuit. This tendency is manifested in the form of oil painting and can be seen as a rumination of my subsistence through means of realism.”


Redeemed by Esther Teo

“After constant struggles of communication what lies beyond face value, I found photography as my primary medium for expression. The captured frame could be constructed, manipulated and captured at different levels which worked in a similar fashion to my thoughts. Hence, my works are often abstract with multidimensional meanings and should not be read literally. This process allowed me to discover a dimension beyond the perimeters of myself, where my ideas could be submitted unto a spiritual relationship.”- Esther Teo Wan Ling.

Esther is studying for her BFA at Nanyang Technological University School of Art, Design and Media. The featured work started off as an exploration of the etymology of the word Redeem. Esther explains: “It comes from the Greek word Lytroo which means “To release on receipt of ransom”. However, when redeem is used now, it is often referred to redeeming one’s food vouchers, parking coupons or prizes. I was interested in the vast down play of the value of the word: from something so priceless to something so common and cheap. Hence, I juxtaposed the human body signifying priceless life with the cheap food items. Furthermore, the different images document portions of the human life that we often struggle with but I believe we have been redeemed from.”

The Animals by Mark Wee

Mark Wee is one of the eight storytellers that will be showing his animated film at Cartoons Underground. The Animals is a paper cut-out stop-motion animation that is adapted from the life of Joseph Merrick.

Mark: “Influenced by the German Expressionist movement of the early 1900s and the silhouette animated films by Lotte Reiniger, my film is about the historically famed Elephant Man who walked the streets of Victorian England, exhibiting himself in freak shows. Abused and despised by society for his horrific appearance, Merrick is at his wit’s end when things take a serendipitous turn.”

Mark is a 2014 BFA from the Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media and is now pursuing a Masters in Animation Art. “I love creating, designing and watching all forms of animated films; 2D, 3D and Stop-motion – especially Stop-motion. I hope to discover the endless possibilities of storytelling through animated films and strive to be able to tell that one, universal story through animation.”

Cartoons Underground – 7 December at CANVAS. From 4:30pm until 10pm – Cartoons Underground showreel showdown, from 7pm Film screening.

The Confusion of Happiness by Michelle Tan + Giveaway!

Her days are guided by the twin obsessions of opera and the written word, but more than anything she is a lover of life, learning and long runs. Meet Michelle Tan, a poetry-writing mezzo-soprano at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Math Paper Press recently published Michelle’s debut poetry collection, The Confusion of Happiness. BooksActually’s Marketing Manager, Angelin Chua, talks to the young author on our behalf. Here goes …

It’s difficult to choose a single word to be your favourite, but if you ABSOLUTELY have to choose one, what would it be? It might be ‘daze’ because of how it’s a homophone with something as banal as ‘days’ and yet it captures precisely the overwhelming explosiveness of being alive in time through hazy colour and muffled hearing.

As a lover of music and opera, do you think that music has played a major role in your writing?
Definitely. Music awakens sensations and emotions beyond anything anyone can reliably describe. Because of its gorgeous complexity, it intensifies the struggle to be accurate and honest in relaying one’s experience of the world. My operatic training has been particularly helpful for poetry since it constantly increases my sensitivity to beauty built into the sounds of language. But far beyond writing, music has played a major part in my life.

At the launch of your poetry collection, you’ve touched many with your reading of some poems. Which is your favourite in this collection?
Apostrophe, because Stein made me realise that even a punctuation mark can be as irrational in love as us silly humans are.

If you need to make a choice between writing and having a voice, which would you choose?
I would (cheat a bit and) choose to have a voice in the sense of having any mode of expression that can be heard by others. :P I think it’s so important to have an output to process and share our experience of the complex world we live in. It’s perhaps the only way to keep on living.

Given the words CAT, STARS, CABIN, and MISCELLANY, have fun and come up with a little poem for our readers!

German lesson

it’s not the bodies that lie
that gave the warmth we wanted

but what we once left behind
in rooms other than our own

miscellany first strewn like whiskers
across his quiet cabin, then

clean-shaven, blown astray
casting shadows like dead stars

‘all things for the cat’
in this cruel case of whispers

*’Alles für die Katz’ is the really cute German way of saying ‘it was all in vain’.

BooksActually’s big boss is giving away 2 copies of Michelle Tan’s book each topped up with a copy of Cyril’s Wong “Unmarked Treasure“. Want a set? Email with “I’m a BooksActually spoiled brat!” in the subject line. The first 2 readers to comply with these instructions, can pick up their bundle from the BooksActually shop (No. 9 Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru). The contest is open to Singapore based readers only! The contest is closed. More luck next time!

In the Eyes of the Beholder by Teo Cai Yun

We had Teo Cai Yun‘s work bookmarked since the BOOKSHOW last week-end. The photography major from Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media has a knack for staging interventions and turning the outcome of her projects into weird and wonderful pictures.

In the Eyes of the Beholder
sees Cai Yun do some sinister things with fruit. As she explains “it all started out with researching on the food cosmetic filtering process whereby suppliers and farmers filter out ugly fruits and keeping the good-looking ones. It made me rethink the standards of beauty and that it applies to fruits as well without us knowing. Using the idea of plastic surgery, I fused fruits with weird things to create according to my personal standards, and insert the slightly sadistic part of my personality.”

I just hope that stitched up banana doesn’t haunt my dreams …

STACK Black Slate by A.K.A. Wayward

“At STACK, we get our hands dirty, every piece is handcrafted and no one piece is the same.”

Mun Foong, a graphics manipulator by craft, applies her design skills to accessories under the label A.K.A. Wayward. Handcrafted barbell and binding screw bracelets, snap hook wraps and tribal necklaces round out the label’s 2014/15 STACK Black slate offerings, all of which are available here.

“In the mid 14 century, the Old French Term ‘esclat’ connotes ‘spilt piece, splinter’ or also from the notion of being easily altered or erased. The phrases “clean slate” and “blank slate” come from this usage. We were really inspired by this metamorphic rock mineral and created a collection that stayed true to its nature. Every piece was inspired by the materials itself and it spoke to us how it wanted to be made … No one piece is the same as they are still lovingly handcrafted in our studio.”

‘Day at Night’ by Jasmine Lim Jie Min

We came across the work from NTU photography student, Jasmine Lim at the recent BOOKSHOW and we instantly added it to our mental bookmarks bar. Her photography book titled Day at Night is a continuation in her quest to capture the lights around Singapore, something she began documenting in her End of Night series.

“The number of lights we have equates to the population on the island.” Lights may be beautiful, offer guidance and prevent accidents. The question is How much light is enough? With the title “Day at night, I express my concern about the number of lights installed, resulting in the loss of darkness.”

Seeking by Sara Ho

The second edition of THEBOOKSHOW opened yesterday at the DECK, showcasing a fresh batch of self-published artist books. We were instantly drawn to photography student Sara Ho‘s book called Seeking, a beautiful collection of brightly coloured thought-provoking images.

“Within the pages, if you look close enough, you might find things. You look, you find and realise that there is no meaning. My book talks about the search for something among the accumulation of things and how having more things does not satisfy.”

Pop by the show this Sunday to browse Seeking and more superb publications.

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