All images courtesy of Yew Chong.
Today we have a conversations with Yew Chong, an accountant by day and a mural artist on weekends.
Yanda: Hello Yew Chong. Tell us something about yourself and how old are you? Is being an accountant your day job?
Yew Chong: I am a true blue Singaporean who grew up in old Chinatown in the 70s with fond memories (born 1969). I studied accountancy and has worked in finance and accounting for over 20 years (still in finance today!) I’m happily married with two children.
Tell us through your day-to-day work life?
I manage a department in a multi-national company providing finance and administration services to internal customers. My day-to-day job involves more of managing my team members and internal customers, more than crunching numbers, contrary to what many people think accountants only do.
Is it tough juggling your mind over the freedom in art with the numbers and accounting?
Actually it is not tough to juggle. When I am at the office, my mind is fully focused on work issues. I like it that my employer has so far empowered me with the freedom to manage. When I am drawing or painting, my mind is also very free and fully focused on creating that piece of art or craft, sometimes even forgetting to rest! When my mind is free from work and art, it wanders, reflects its present surrounding and dreams far, eg. next project, next travel destination. To be able to do all these freely, I must say how thankful I am to my whole family, especially my wife who has empowered me with this freedom!
Provision Shop. Everton Road, Singapore
The money must be good it seems?
The money from finance work is ok lah, mainly due to my accumulated 20 years of experience and seniority. It surely beats the money from art and craft for now as I only started painting for commissions since November 2015.
How did the mural art thing started? Was it a SG50 thing?
My works are totally unrelated to SG50. In fact, I missed the boat as I painted my very first mural only in late August 2015 when the hype was over. I managed to paint murals only after I quit my finance job in June 2015 to take a break and do something different for a while. The idea of mural painting however started way back in 2014 when I bumped onto Ernest Zacharevic’s works in Victoria Street. See my facebook post in 2014: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152117815223610&set=a.10150917894768610.435348.591753609&type=3&theater
How long do you take to finish a mural? Was it a one man thing?
The time needed to complete a mural depends on its size, design complexity, logistics complexity and the weather. The 7 murals I have painted so far ranged from 2 days to 2 weeks of work. My latest two murals in Tiong Bahru were painted in two days each. I think I learnt the tricks, hence getting more efficient. The “Provision Shop” in Spottiswoode Park Road took 2 weeks mainly because it rained everyday in the afternoons, so maybe it was just about 1 week of work. So far, I painted all the murals single handedly, but with lots of moral and logistics support from family, owners, neighbours, friends and even passers-by. In my next few projects, there will be some collaboration with friends.
Are these commissions? Invited by some government agencies?
For the first two murals at Everton Road, I approached the house owner to allow me to paint on his property walls, thus they are not commissioned. They are like my advertisements and I’m glad the house owner didn’t charge me for the space. All subsequent murals were commissioned.
It’s funny, but maybe illustrative street art means legal.
In Singapore, in theory, all kinds of street arts require some form of approvals, regardless of the style. For private properties, which are not gazetted with any conservation or other status, it may simply require the house owner’s approval. For gazetted private properties, HDB or other public buildings, multiple approvals may be required from the owners, URA, HDB, BCA, LTA, Town Councils and Resident Committees. Seeking approvals can be a very time-consuming and cumbersome process, but that ensures I don’t land up in the courts or even jail! I understand the need for the authorities to control street art, however I hope these numerous authorities can come together to make the process more seamless and less bureaucratic in order not to stifle ground-up initiatives.
How would you feel to see them being destroyed by bird shit, stains and whats not one day?
Murals are never meant to be permanent. I always warn all the house owners that the murals will be destroyed by the natural elements over time, no matter how high-tech the paints are against the elements. Those walls that are subject to direct sunlight (intense ultra-violet) and moisture will have the shortest lifespan, say about 3 years. I think some signs of aging, like colour fading, cracking wall and bird shits make the mural look mature and nostalgic. Some owners are also concerned about vandalism, but I think in Singapore, the risk is low. Nevertheless, whatever happens and when the time comes, I leave it to the owners to decide whether to whitewash the wall or restore the mural. If they decide to restore it, we also need to assess if it is even feasible and worth it.
A plain car park in Changsha, Hunan province just got a lot more exciting with this 500-square-meter 3D floor mural, depicting the Shiyan Lake scenic spot of the city.
Ruben Pang is a full time practising artist and graduate from the Lasalle College of the Arts, Faculty of Fine Art (2010). Pang explores an intuitive method of painting. His paintings are projections of his psyche, reflecting on notions of prospect, arrival, and transformation. With no preconceived notion of how the painting should look like at its inception, Pang’s process of creation evolves with each mark added or subtracted from the painting surface.
His recent international shows include a solo exhibition, Aetheric Portraiture with Primae Noctis Art Gallery in Lugano, Switzerland and a group exhibition, Deep SEA with Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, Italy. Locally, he has exhibited and performed in the Singapore Art Museum, Lasalle College of the Art’s Praxis and Project Space, The Substation and Chan Hampe Galleries. He received the Winston Oh Travelogue Award (2010), the Georgette Chen Arts Scholarship (2009-2010), and the Lasalle Award for Academic Excellence and was a finalist in the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2010 and 2011.
Catch a glimpse of him and his work space in the video by The Creators Project below.
We were commissioned by Galeries Lafayette to concept, design, and produce its comprehensive retail windows directive on the famed Boulevard Haussmann.
Galeries Lafayette’s “Quoi de Neuf” has become, throughout its many seasonal editions, a must-see event for the discovery of new trends in fashion. This time, the department store was guided by the theme of the “white page”, to immerse the spectator in a surrealist universe, punctuated by purity and minimalism. In order to illustrate this concept, we created 16 window installations that highlights a thematic detail of the pure page, a characteristic that renders each product exceptional.
Things of Beauty (2015) by Dawn Ng
There have been so many dialogues on what defines art and what defines design, on when is art, art? And can art be designed?
When it is captioned? When it is at a gallery? When it’s beyond an average’s technical ability? When it look nice on the wall? Or when it has some deep lying message?
Take Dawn Ng’s ‘Things of Beauty’, a photographic installation series for example. It’s soothing and eye catching. It fits in any walls whoever’s home are. It’s market-able and sellable cause it’s easy to relate to even if you don’t read the artist statement or understand the message or any political resounding behind it if there’s any. I like it.
But now let’s take a step back into the real world. And if we were to see similiar visuals like ‘Things of Beauty’ in magazines in those independent magazines styled and shot, done and produced by stylist and photographers. Its output is art to designers or the publication world but is it art in the art world?
Take another example and look at Ezzam Raham’s ‘Here’s who I am, I am what you see’. Fossils and Flower sculptures were made from dry skins shredded from the artist’s feet, then enclosed by a bell glass jar and delicately placed on a marble top table setting, finished with the lights dimmed and mood set. So that is art. And if a similar set up is done by visual merchandiser or be seen at a window display. Most would call them designs that are designed.
It’s termed design if there’s a brief or that, there’s an issue raised or a gap to be filled. Art, probably, doesn’t necessary need to cater to be a solution for anything, or to cater to any briefs. Art, probably, has a message and a cause behind.
Who I Am, I Am What You See (2015) by Ezzam Raham
So, can art be designed? Or the answer is that obvious? It is but they avoid using words like design. They will probably be using—crafted, produced.
In today’s context, we see dual professions—artists who are or were designers. Take Heman Chong. He started his profession as a graphic designer but has moved on as a artist, curator and writer. See Hanson Ho who has almost to two decade of working as a graphic designer whom recently has his first solo art show.
But when do one actually enter the art world? When you are hand picked by curators to showcase in the museums or art galleries? What if you organised your own show in a rented venue—some call it independent, some call it D.I.Y. Does one enter the art world when they are being acknowledged by fellow artists or gets interviewed by art writers?
Questions being raised. Curiousity on a rise. Hope I can find a place for myself in this world.
700 balloons, 2 hour performance.
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