I went to the Affordable Art Fair (Singapore) recently to check out some contemporary Asian art. I will be the first to say that even though I have paid full tuition and attended four years of art and design school, I do not possess the god-given talents of producing fine arts (which explains why I went to graphic arts, aka design). But anyone from all walks of life can always appreciate art, right? :) When it comes to subject matter though, that depends on my mood and what emotional state I happen to be in. For instance, in the mid nineties (ie. the peak of Moonberry-ism), I was all into feminine expressions, goddess-like, ethereal clouds of colors blending into one another with no distinct beginning or end, and expressed this in a lot of personal designs – to the point where it became an instantly recognizable ‘signature’-style. Around Y2K, I was drawn towards Old Shanghai-style advertisements and Red China/Cultural Revolution propaganda posters, with more defined outlines and bold Chinese wordings. In the last few years, as I embarked on the exploration of spiritual wellness and mindful living, I began to show appreciation towards images depicting holiness and minimalist abstracts.
On a scale of 1 to 10, my art quotient is hopefully between 7 or 8, kinda sorta probably maybe. This is really hard to say. Frankly, I still don’t quite get what makes one artist ‘hotter’ than the others, or why certain pieces in the same collection are priced so much higher than the rest, etc. And then there’s that whole business of collectors collecting or investing, profitability potentials, commission markups, yadee yada. Anyway as they say, art is subjective and often, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One is allowed to have his/her own opinion because art in general is a very forgiving subject matter. After all, one’s appreciation towards art is so arbitrary and personal. One man’s trash may well be another’s treasure. My personal take though, is that after working the art and design circuit for the last twenty years or so, I admit I am pretty much set in my ways. The connection between my visual vocabulary and emotional triggers has already been established for many years now. Meaning, I know immediately what I like and don’t, I can consistently identify what is visually pleasing to me or otherwise. The result of years of fine-tuning personal visual sensitivity.
Compared to Art Singapore event which I checked out several weeks prior, The Affordable Art Fair was an a-okay experience for me. There weren’t a lot of pieces which jumped out at me, but I did discover a handful of gems and took pictures to share. Now, I don’t know what is the general etiquette, rules and regulations about photography at these sorta events but I was glad no one stopped me from taking photos at the AAF (uhm, isn’t art fundamentally all about visual appreciation anyway?!? Hence we should be allowed to make personal records of these visuals!)
My favourite pieces at the AAF:
1. Bronze sculptures by Michael Cacnio (Phillipines)
The entire “Balloon Vendor” series is so endearing. What I see is a combination of slight melancholy, innocence and hope. The balloons in these sculptures were so life-like, I couldn’t refrain from reaching out to touch them (and they were soft!). Reasonably affordable, around SGD6000-ish per sculpture. I’d love to have one of these in my design studio one day.
2. Graphic prints by Emilie Saint-pé (Paris/Hong Kong)
Emilie’s work is so cool. She blends two different cultures (East and West) by rendering French expressions into clever Chinese typographical graphics. This is totally like what we all used to do in typography classes, back in school. Love it!!! Limited edition and signed prints were going for about SGD800 (how affordable is that!), but I snagged a coffee-table book containing all of her artwork for just SGD35 instead. Heh! }:) And she graciously autographed the book for me too. Pour Moonberry, she signed. Sweeeeeet!
3. Painting by Contemporary-Chinese-Artist-Whose-Name-I-Forgot-Doh (China)
Uhm… yah. I can’t remember the name of this artist and I’m currently unable to find references online or offline. This painting is basically of three cherubs floating above the Forbidden City, two of whom are drawing arrowless-bows while the third one waves the Little Red Book. I can’t quite articulate why I like it, it just caught my interest and I came close to almost buying it (priced at SGD1400). But you notice I say I “like” it, I don’t “love” it and my rule of thumb is generally: I buy only when I’m absolutely in LOVE.
4. Negative photography print by Koh Sang Woo (New York/Seoul)
Ah. Now THIS was the one piece which really stood out for me and good thing I caught it as I only saw it almost towards the end of the show. First of all, the vibrant neon-like colors registered immediately to my eyeballs (I can so hear Team MB chuckling away on this point, in total agreement) and the composition exuded a lot of energy. Secondly, from a distance it appeared to be digital manipulation of some sort (*raising hand* Yes, major photoshop geek here). Thirdly, this piece happened to also be beautifully framed in thick borderless acrylic so without inspecting closely, this artwork looked like as though it was mounted on a lightbox and illuminated from behind (but it wasn’t). Lastly, the subject matter was something I definitely love – femininity, romance, girlish-goodness all around with a hint of sensuality, tasteful depiction of naked body and like I already said, the colors, the energy it projected, everything just clicked for me. Upon inquiry, I found out that this piece is not a painting, not a photoshopped-product, but an actual photograph taken via negative film and the colors are all achieved via body-paint and props applied directly on the models. Part of a much larger collection, there are only 5 pieces of this particular print in circulation. For SGD-undisclosedamount, I think this baby will look quite pretty on my wall, huh? (Exact wall TBD). Heh. Heh. Heh. Love it!