Exhib! NYANYI SUNYI (Songs of Solitude)

hilang gemilang

Hilang Gemilang by Izzad Razali Shah (2017)

Gayong, oil on canvas 90x70cm 2017

Gayong by Khairulddin Wahab (2017)


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


Dia-S’porean by Rifqi Amirul (2017)

Stagecraft after lake

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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