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Lucy Liu, Velocity

Art of 2019

Happy 2020! I’m still in that in-between phase where I can’t believe it’s a new year (and decade!) and still in my holiday mode, but I know it’s time to get things moving for the year ahead! Before going into a brand new year of art, I wanted to do a roundup of all the exhibitions I went to in 2019!

| Cover picture: Lucy Liu, Velocity (one side), 2001, mixed media on canvas |

National Museum of Singapore – Unhomed Belongings

Lucy Liu, Velocity (one side), 2001, mixed media on canvas
Lucy Liu, Lost and Found, 2012 – present, installation, books and found objects
Shubigi Rao, The Wood for the Trees, 2017-18, giclée prints

2019 began with Unhomed Belongings at NMS, which did an interesting pairing of Lucy Liu’s and Shubigi Rao’s artworks. I especially liked Liu’s Lost and Found books, which contains objects that she picks up from the streets in whichever place she travels to. Rao’s highlight work for me was The Wood for the Trees that is part of her wider project on documenting destroyed books and libraries.

I love books and art, so I always like artworks that incorporate books in some way or another…

I next visited the i Light and Light to Night festivals centred around the 2019 Bicentennial and the new S.E.A. Focus art fair, which I had shared about in the two linked posts, click over to read more!

Science Centre Singapore – The Inventions of Ancient Greece

The hydraulic automaton of the “chirping birds” and of the “returning owl”, 3rd century B.C.

The last time I went to the Science Centre, I was there for a class trip, and I think it has been 11 years?? (Where does the time go?) I have a long-standing thing for ancient Greek stories and things, so I was intrigued when I saw banners advertising this exhibition around the city.

The exhibition featured replicas of Greek inventions that were made for both practical and aesthetic / for fun purposes, and it’s amazing to see how these inventions rely solely on physics, rather than the technology we see today. I really liked the hydraulic automaton of the “chirping birds” and of the “returning owl”. Depending on the water level in the container, the birds will chirp, only stopping when the owl turns towards them; when the water level lowers again, the owl turns away and the birds chirp again (as shown in the picture). The second exhibit above is a “robot” that automatically refills wine cups – how cool is that?

The exhibits came alongside videos showing how the inventions work. A shoutout as well to the friendly staff who kindly gave me and my sister a tour, helpfully explaining all of the exhibits in detail!

National Museum of Singapore – Packaging Matters

A quick visit again to NMS to see this exhibition on food packaging in 20th century Singapore! Some local coffee shops and chains still serve kopi in that flowery cup (second from left), which is nice to see!

ArtScience Museum – Wonderland

I always make this face too!

The travelling exhibition Wonderland from ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) was so fun! It shows the influence of the famous story of Alice and her image across film, photography, animation and many aspects of popular culture. I loved the sets designed for the exhibition (like the many doors!) and all the interactive elements, which made it feel like you were going down a quirky adventure too.

Wonderland made its first stop at ArtScience Museum on its global tour, so look out for it in your city! Also, I’m so glad that Singapore brings in many international exhibitions and artists’ works these days!

National Gallery Singapore – Lim Cheng Hoe: Painting Singapore

Lim Cheng Hoe, Singapore River Front, 1958, watercolour on paper
Lim Cheng Hoe, both untitled and undated, (sunset at the beach – top, beach – bottom)

I visited National Gallery Singapore for their Awakenings and Lim Cheng Hoe: Painting Singapore exhibitions. I liked seeing the serene watercolour paintings by Lim of an older Singapore. The long-running Lim Cheng Hoe exhibition closes tomorrow on 5th Jan.

Asian Civilisations Museum – Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture

黄皇后 (Yellow Queen), 2010, One Thousand and Two Nights collection
来自【龙的故事】系列, 2012, Legend of the Dragon collection
宫花 (Palace Flower), 2012, Legend of the Dragon collection
来自【龙的故事】系列, 2012, Legend of the Dragon collection
阿拉伯公主 (Arab princess), 2010, One Thousand and Two Nights collection
青花瓷 (blue and white porcelain), 2010, One Thousand and Two Nights collection
来自【龙的故事】系列, 2012, Legend of the Dragon collection
冰雪皇后 (Snow Queen), 2010, One Thousand and Two Nights collection
来自【极乐岛】系列, 2018, Elysium Collection
来自【龙的故事】系列, 2012, Legend of the Dragon collection
大金 (Magnificent Gold Gown), 2006, Samsara collection

Seeing Guo Pei’s gowns and dresses at ACM was such a dream – every one of her creations is absolutely stunning! My most favourite were 冰雪皇后 (Snow Queen) and 大金 (Magnificent Gold Gown). I was so very excited to see 大金, because it was splashed all over Instagram when it was shown at The Met Museum’s China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition in 2015 (I did a review of the exhibition catalogue, linked here, though the catalogue doesn’t feature this dress). I couldn’t believe I could see the gown for myself!

STPI – Takashi Murakami: From Superflat to Bubblewrap

So, I can somewhat see the appeal of Takashi Murakami’s work and why he’s so popular, but I’m still not personally convinced. I’ve always found his work too “commercial”, if you will, and it’s interesting to note that the artist was commenting on the economic side of things (I can’t remember how it was phrased exactly) through these works. His works are meta – while commenting on commercialisation, his works have also become coveted commodities in the art market.

The newly re-painted Alkaff Bridge, located outside STPI.

National Museum of Singapore – An Old New World

Chest with nine porcelain bottles, c. 1680-1700, silver, velvet, porcelain, wood

I visited NMS the most in 2019! An Old New World talks about the voyages of Dutch and British East India Companies back in their heyday and the trade that they engaged in in Singapore and in the region. I especially liked this exhibit (on loan from the Rijksmuseum, which I really want to visit!!) for its fusion sources of production – the wooden chest from Bavaria (present-day Jakarta), the porcelain from Japan, spices contained within the porcelain bottles traded across Asia, and the whole item commissioned by the Dutch East India Company.

An Old New World is on show till 29 March 2020.

ArtScience Museum – Disney: Magic of Animation

ArtScience Museum is on a great roll with their exhibitions – I absolutely loved Disney: Magic of Animation because it was like revisiting my childhood, and it was also wonderful seeing the art of my more recent Disney favourites like Tangled and Frozen II!

Disney: Magic of Animation is on show till 29 March 2020.

My final exhibition of 2019 was actually #futuretogether by teamLab at Gardens by the Bay, which I went to see on New Years’ Eve. Looking forward to all the art in 2020!

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