Thursday, December 03, 2015

art gallery


The latest edifice to open around here is the National Art Gallery.

It apparently took a lot to convert the former Supreme Court building into the gallery; from digging out an entire basement carpark under the building to convincing our pragmatic first Prime Minster that it’s an investment that will pay off.

Every Tom Dick and Harry is paying a visit to what is touted as the first museum in the world dedicated to Southeast Asian modern art, and so do we. Por Por, Kaofu Choon, the kids and I. It’s forever free for Singaporeans.

Only for us, it takes a little getting used to.

Choon, who arrives early, whizzes through in 30 minutes.

The rest of us, when we arrive, ooh and ah at the marvelous architecture – marble, columns, so on and so forth - but that sort of enthusiasm dies down after about 15 minutes.


We wander into a gallery which doesn’t have queues, and stand stupidly in front of big black splotchy paintings.

“Can you find the roof, Lulu?” I ask the artist-wannabe, as we gaze at one of them titled “Roof” something or other. She can’t. I turn to a museum staff. “Where’s the roof?” She’s not sure either.

Then Por Por comes into a room with a bench, on which people can presumably sit on and slowly absorb the art in leisure. She sits on the bench to rest her legs and remarks: You mean the construction isn’t over yet?

* Por Por gets off the bench to see if there's more to the dots than she thought 

What she saw as six “concrete” daubs on the unfinished wall, were in fact an artist’s rendering of “a symphony of cicadas as some leaves were blown about by a gust of wind” on four giant panels of paper.

(Connoiseurs, according to the information panel, would say that "the shimmering cicadas are almost audible.")

I think, like coffee and wine, art appreciation needs time. And some will never get it. Maybe I; I still hate coffee and wine.

The kids are particularly frustrated by captions like these (for a painting showing two naked bodies with Mickey Mouse heads wearing fig leaves) : Featuring icons that embody ideas about evolution, popular culture and religion, the artwork alludes to the uncertainty of humanity's future.

(Girls: But WHY Mickey Mouse? Why are they naked? Why fig leaves?)

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