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Jan 29 2021

What’s Showing at SEA Focus

by The Editors

The centerpiece of the annual Singapore Art Week (SAW), art fair SEA Focus
(pronounced “Sea Focus") is happening in 2021 in a blended IRL-online format from January 22–31. With 27 participants from around southeast Asia, the fair’s sales component is happening digitally in partnership with Artsy, while Singapore residents can book tickets to visit the exhibition SEA Focus Curated “hyper-horizon” at the industrial Tanjong Pagar Distripark. Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights from galleries and artists from the region.

POW MARTINEZ, Social Death, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 152.4 × 152.4 cm. Courtesy Silverlens, Manila.

Pow Martinez

Silverlens, Manila

Painter Pow Martinez’s satirical depictions of our image-focused society is a recurring theme for the Filipino artist. Presented by Silverlens, Self-Help Guru (2020), depicting a contorted female nude trying to take a selfie, and Social Death (2020), of a man alone with his laptop, allude to this very fixation, with Martinez vividly rendering misshapen, almost grotesque figures with exaggerated features, as if to poke fun at this contemporary reality.

KAWITA VATANAJYANKUR, The Spade, 2020, still from single-channel UHD video: 8 min 19 sec. Courtesy the artist and Nova Contemporary, Bangkok.

Kawita Vatanajyankur

Nova Contemporary, Bangkok

Thai-Australian performance artist Kawita Vatanajyankur is best known for her powerful feminist practice that explores themes of labor and excess within a capitalist and patriarchal society. In the video The Spade (2020), Vatanajyankur subjects her own body to the imaginary machine—as if it is a spade that is digging in the soil repeatedly—illustrating the feats of physical labor endured by Thai women working in agricultural industries but also demonstrating their innate capacity for adjustment and transformation on a daily basis.

HU QIREN, #4, A Grocer’s Essentials, 2020, archival pigment print on aluminium composite panel, 118.9 × 78.9 cm. Courtesy the artist and Richard Koh Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur / Singapore.

Hu Qiren

Richard Koh Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur / Singapore

Richard Koh Fine Art highlights A Grocer’s Essentials (2020), a series of new prints by multidisciplinary artist and art educator Hu Qiren that were inspired by a period of self-isolation amid Covid-19 induced lockdowns in his homeland Singapore. His playful layering of images of home supplies, cleared grocery aisles, fruits, and superimposed text that read “Temporarily Out of Stock” is a cheeky meditation on how normality has been interrupted and re-shaped during a pandemic.

GENEVIEVE CHUA, Onscreen Kiss, 2020, screenprinted acrylic on lightbox with metal housing, 70 × 46 × 9.5 cm. Copyright the artist / STPI. Courtesy the artist and STPI, Singapore.

Genevieve Chua

STPI, Singapore

STPI presents mixed media sculptural artworks Onscreen Kiss and Offscreen Kiss (both 2020) by its resident artist Genevieve Chua. Both works are an expansion of her studies in abstract painting, combining an array of techniques and media such as screen printing on acrylic, relief printing on paper, and lightboxes, to explore alternative structures, forms, and processes of abstraction.

KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAI, Painting with history (The Mockingjay Rises), 2021, acrylic and metal foil on bleached denim on inkjet print on canvas, aluminum stretcher, 116.8 × 94 × 3.2 cm. Courtesy the artist and Bangkok CityCity Gallery.

Korakrit Arunanondchai

Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Bangkok

Bangkok- and New York-based filmmaker and multimedia artist Korakrit Arunanondchai is known for his explorations of history, memory, and cultural identity via works that teeter between the fantastical and the real. In his mixed media canvas Painting with history (The Mockingjay Rises) (2021), Arunanondchai draws on the figure of the “Mockingjay” (from Hollywood movie franchise The Hunger Games, 2012–15) as a symbol of resistance as he alludes to the 2014 student protests in Thailand, during which protestors used this emblem in their challenges of the government’s crackdown on media.

HILMI JOHANDI, Landscapes & Paradise VII (Poolscapes no. 2), 2021, oil on linen, 170.3 × 145 cm. Courtesy the artist and Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Shanghai / Singapore.

Hilmi Johandi

Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Shanghai / Singapore

Singapore-born artist Hilmi Johandi’s paintings often capture the daily happenings of his surroundings and explore the social effects of urbanization. His interest in film, stagecraft, and the local history of Singapore is reflected in his recent oil canvases shown by Ota Fine Arts. For example, Landscapes & Paradise VII (Poolscapes no. 2) (2021) features a corner dissected by muted color blocks that portrays at once the serenity of a poolside lounge and a sense of eeriness from the staged narrative of a set design model box. 

SYAIFUL AULIA GARIBALDI, Porculen Sudor #3, 2020, lichen and thermometer on andesite rock, 30 × 10 × 5 cm. Courtesy the artist and ROH Projects, Jakarta.

Syaiful Aulia Garibaldi

ROH Projects, Jakarta

ROH Projects highlights the works of Jakarta-born multimedia artist Syaiful Aulia Garibaldi, ranging from videos, works on paper, to a sculptural object composed with lichen and thermometer on andesite rock, titled Porculen Sudor #3 (2020). Closely tied to his former education in agronomy—a combination of agricultural farming, research, and technology—Garibaldi creates works that seamlessly blend nature, art, and science into an immersive environment exploring life and decay.

NINH PHAM, Institute of Distance, 2020, still from video game, user-defined duration. Courtesy the artist and A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur.

Hà Ninh Pham

A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur

Born and based in Hanoi, artist and arts educator Hà Ninh Pham explores the boundaries of his own imagination through an interactive videogame, Institute of Distance (2020). Showcased by A+ Works of Art in the SEA Focus Curated: “hyper-horizon” section, the work invites players to traverse the artist’s imaginary universe through trial and error, where each decision can create a new pathway or result in a dead-end.

Detail of MANDY EL-SAYEGH’s Ned-Grid (fall), 2020, oil and mixed media on linen with silkscreened collaged elements, 235 × 225 × 4.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul / London / Palm Beach.

Mandy El-Sayegh

Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul / London / Palm Beach

London-based multimedia artist Mandy El-Sayegh’s recent work Net-Grid (fall) (2020), presented by Lehmann Maupin, features an installation of a collage of fragmented clippings from newspapers, advertisements, and personal manuscripts. Her process-focused practice aims to create disruptions to existing forms of order through a seemingly chaotic layering of actions, materials, and motifs that challenge our assumptions of the truth.

SEA Focus 2021 is at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore, and also online until January 31, 2021.

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