How does “the contemporary” manifest itself in the Chinese ink painting practiced today in Singapore? By looking at the historical development of this practice and its teaching methodologies, can we perhaps grasp its contemporary gist more accurately? These and other questions inform John Low’s research during his six-month residency and they are inspiring his ongoing experiments with ink painting in terms of medium, style, format, and spatial configuration. For this Studio Session, Low invited artist and archivist Koh Nguang How to dig deep into his archival collection—Singapore Art Archive Project—and select publications related to the development of Chinese ink painting in Singapore from the 1920s onwards. Ranging from manuals on ink painting and calligraphy used in Chinese-language schools to monographies on master painters, texts on painting collectives, critical essays, and exhibition catalogues, these printed matters will guide Koh Nguang How and John Low’s open-ended conversation on the subject.
Koh Nguang How (b.1963, Singapore) is an artist, archivist, and independent researcher whose practice encompasses photography, collage, installation, performance, documentation, archiving, and curating. Since 2005, he has developed the Singapore Art Archive Project (SAAP), an heterogenous collection of newspaper clippings, photographs, exhibition catalogues, documents, books, and other ephemera related to the development of the arts in Singapore and the region that he has meticulously gathered since 1980. Thematic selections of the SAAP have been presented in numerous group shows such as, most recently, Gwangju Biennial 2018 (South Korea) and SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now, National Art Center, Tokyo (Japan, 2017). Recent solo exhibitions include The Past and Coming Melt at Grey Project (Singapore, 2019) and On the Cusp: Early Contemporary Art Activities in Singapore (1976 – 1996). Documentation from the Koh Nguang How Archive Collection, Singapore Art Museum (2018).
Koh was a founding member of The Artists Village. He was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore from July 2014 to January 2015.
John Low (b.1958, Singapore) is an artist and independent researcher. In the last decade, his practice has shifted its focus from the representation of urban and rural landscape to the tensions between the local and the global. He is especially interested in understanding how cross-cultural and transnational discourses influence the production of art practices and critical writing in Singapore and Southeast Asia. His work has been featured in the 3rd Singapore Biennale (2011). He was a contributor to the publication Histories, Practices, Interventions: A Reader in Singapore Contemporary Art (2016).
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