Spotted! Kyle Ngo

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Kyle Ngo is an independent graphic designer and photographer who graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Visual Communication Media Design. He is currently at the Glasgow School of Art, pursuing a degree in Communication Design.

Kyle about design: “Conventional design’s success is measured against how well it sells and how elegantly conflicts among aesthetics, production, usability and costs are resolved. Today’s designers need to be able to do more than solve known problems; they must be comfortable with uncertain opportunities and capable of inventing the unexpected by giving form to the ingenious. Design as critique can do many things – post questions, encourage thought, expose assumptions, provoke action, spark debate, raise awareness, offer new perspectives, and inspire. And even to entertain in an intellectual sort of way. Thus, my projects approach design as a form of critique rather than a method for problem-solving.

“My works explore, experiment and discover imaginary possibilities in the form of speculative design, new modernism and emerging technologies with relations to the cultural, social, technological, ethical and political implications,” he continues. “Crafting the coexistence of design in the here-and-now and yet-to-exist with physical presence that can locate in our present-day world, while their meaning, embodied values, beliefs, ethics, dreams, hopes and fears belong somewhere in the possible future.”

Every year, Kyle works on a personal project that reveals an unseen part of our society. Last year he teamed up with The Project X, a non-profit organization working with a small team of dedicated volunteers who walk the streets of Geylang to reach out to sex workers. “The project also aims to end the stigma and discrimination that results in physical, verbal, emotional and financial violence against sex workers in Singapore,” Kyle explains. “I conducted interviews and documented a series of photographs based on the lives of transgendered sex workers. Titled Sisters, my documentary photography project discovers this unseen part of Singapore. Being a sister in a conservative society like Singapore is a hard route to take. One of the many challenges that transgender women face is job discrimination. And for this very reason, many transgender women in Singapore become sex workers as sex work tends to be the only way they can earn a living.”

Kyle who describes himself as a postmodernist thinker, believes that design is not solely functional and usable, but can be a form of critique. “I am currently completing five projects that showcase these forms of discourses. One of my projects titled the WILD magazine, is a cultural and political gossip magazine that collects, analyses and presents fictitious stories about the current world. Bridging postmodernist thinking and aesthetics with present-day information, WILD blurs the confines of the real and imaginative news, breaks up conventional design phenomenon and seeks to redefine the aesthetics of cultural and political gossips with witty visual detritus within he society.”

 

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Spotted! Ben Lai

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Concept Illustration for ‘Baba the little lamb

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Illustration for unpublished picture book: ‘Nine and Clan

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Illustration for Asian Festival of Children Content 2016 under the theme of ‘Japan, Birds and Friendship’

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Previously a game digital artist with Lucasarts and Bandai Namco, Ben Lai ditched and switched to a career of making picture books and book illustrations in 2016.

This Saturday Ben is releasing his first picture book at Woods in the Books. “I can is an introduction to life in Singapore for 3 to 6-year-olds. The story stars a young girl who proudly proclaims “I can” as she engages in fun activities and interacts with Singapore’s most famous landmarks and icons.” The event is free but don’t forget to register.

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Exhib! NYANYI SUNYI (Songs of Solitude)

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Hilang Gemilang by Izzad Razali Shah (2017)

Gayong, oil on canvas 90x70cm 2017

Gayong by Khairulddin Wahab (2017)

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The Sweets Left a Sour Taste by Nadiah Alsagoff (2017)

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Dia-S’porean by Rifqi Amirul (2017)

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Stagecraft (After Lake of Singgora) by Hilmi Johandi (2017)

(from the press release)

Nyanyi Sunyi (Songs of Solitude) is an independent exhibition of six young Singapore artists— Hilmi Johandi, Izzad Radzali Shah, Khairulddin Wahab, Kin Chui, Nadiah Alsagoff and Rifqi Amirul—curated by Kamiliah Bahdar and Syaheedah Iskandar.

The exhibition explores connections and misaligned relations. These disjunctures, and the concomitant articulation of differences and otherness, exert an existential shaping of experiences and relations that inform our identities and positions.

Through a series of paintings, Khairulddin Wahab investigates the esoteric philosophy and exoteric practice of silat, a martial arts form indigenous to the region of Southeast Asia. His interest in silat as the subject of his work was piqued by a chance encounter of a family photo showing a pesilat (silat practitioner) at a wedding, where silat is often performed to honor, bless and protect the bride and groom. After delving into the roots and origins of this art form, Khairulddin found in silat the embodied form of Malay mysticism. His paintings contain symbolic and abstract representations of the spiritual elements of silat, and also seek to capture the aura of mysticism through his use of a muted dark palette, which conveys a mysterious yet ominous sensation.

Kin Chui fabricated letterboxes with the address 84 Onan Road, which is located in Joo Chiat. In pre-independence Singapore, this same address was a site of gathering and where information and thoughts were exchanged by the likes of Musso, Winata, Boedisoejitro, Soebakat and Tan Malaka—individuals who saw themselves as revolutionaries in exile from the Dutch East Indies for their struggle against colonial subjugation. 84 Onan Road was just a node in the larger regional network of anti-colonial revolutionaries who influenced, inspired and supported one another. This trans-national network is now largely forgotten. Kin Chui’s installation of letterboxes and letters is part of his continuing research into anti-colonial struggles and the politics of memory, and an attempt at reflecting on the shared regional histories together.

Nadiah Alsagoff often explores themes of identity and self through the body. For the exhibition, she created paintings on fabric informed by her experiences of disconnection and feelings of perturbation stemming from her inability to speak and understand Malay and Sarawakian Malay fluently spoken by her extended family residing in Sarawak, Malaysia. The Sweets Left a Sour Taste took place in her kindergarten class, when a classmate refused to share sweets with her due to her mixed heritage. Unable to defend herself in Malay, she kept quiet so as to avoid being validated as an outsider. In the paintings, the initial layer of brushstrokes are marred and defaced by moving the tongue across the surface of the cloth, portraying the ongoing conflict between familiarity and distance, closeness and separation that language engenders.

In his works of mixed media on glass and drawings on paper, Rifqi Amirul continues his interest in transit spaces and border places that is informed by his past experience of daily cross-border commuting between Malaysia and Singapore. His new series maps a psychological space onto the architectural environment. The architectural focus is emphasised by deploying the same glass used for windows as his support medium. On these glasses, he employs both painting and printing techniques: applying acrylic and resin with brush, pouring and screenprinting enamel, spray painting and etching directly on them. Sparsely populated by silent anonymous figures, these glasses depict cold, detached and isolating spaces. In contrast, noisy lines thin and thick overwhelm his drawings, imposing a sense of movement and chaotic rhythm to these same places.

Taman Rumit Bertumit (Complicated Garden) is a series of paintings that Izzad Radzali Shah has worked over the past year. He intuitively translates not only history and culture but also his surroundings, environments and memories into symbols, metaphors and cryptic texts on his canvasses. These serve as indirect expressions of his feelings on society and urban living—from issues of power and protest, to ideas of home and feelings of loneliness and confusion. He has said that, “Art is just a tool for me to bridge the gap between what I see and feel and what other people don’t see and feel.” As such, his canvasses function like diaries, although one that undergoes constant editing and re-editing as Izzad often works on the same canvas for months, adding and taking away various elements over many layers of paint.

Hilmi Johandi explores the construction of staged sets, whether film, theatre or others. His treatment of the subject unsettles the relationship between the reality of the set and the illusion on screen or on stage. In his drawing of charcoal and acrylic on canvas, Hilmi composes the depth and dimension such that the viewer is placed on the set itself, positioned not too far behind the opened curtains, reminisced of Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656). His works are characterised by an openness allowing for manifold interpretations. Dioramas, sets and props are revealed in fragments as set-ups, its illusory potential lying dormant.

The exhibition opens on February 4 and runs through 25 February (Tue–Sun:11am–7pm) at Gillman Barracks Block 47 #01-25.

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Banner Shuffle! Shanlyn Chew

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Shanlyn Chew’s instantly recognisable weird and wonderful people occupy our banner space this month.

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Spotted! Sobandwine

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Untitled: a love letter for everyone, from anyone. Mural Art, Wanderlust Hotel  (2018)
“Tucked in the back alley of Wanderlust Hotel, Untitled is a love letter for everyone, from anyone. Marigold, often picked for garlands and weddings as love charms in the Indian culture, is believed to have superstitious powers, of ceasing gossips and promoting cheerful conversations. It also symbolizes celebration, passion and creativity. Our mural adopts the aesthetic of a digital window with an email opener of Dear and closing of Love, so as to invite viewers to fill in the blank. When words are lost, the language of flowers can express love, hopes and dreams through their grace and beauty alone.”

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FM 104.5 MHz. Sound & Visual Installation, Namwon Sound Art Residency (2017)
“In our exploration with sound, we found that it is a sibling of light, where they both move in vibrations and have their personalities based on frequencies. We abstracted images of Namwon into moving colors and played it to Namwon’s Classic Channel FM 104.5 MHz. The sequence and composition of colors that surround us in our environment and the songs on the radio channel, are out of our control. Sometimes we wonder, how are they tuning our consciousness?”

We first came across Sobandwine when they created murals for Nesuoto Café, Lunar Coffee Brewers, Hustle Co and ARTWALK Little India 2018. Earlier this month, Dominic Khoo and Leow Wei Li, the art duo behind Sobandwine, updated their portfolio with a mural made on the walls of the Wanderlust Hotel.

Trained in music (Dominic) and painting (Wei Li) the duo works with sound, paint and technology “to enhance and heighten experiences of meaningful looking or/and listening through their art”.

 

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