Tuesday, 16 July 2013

"Chinese ink is my mistress."

He has been with her for almost 14 years.

He plays and sleeps with her, and explores her inner beauty.

He is still fascinated by her strength yet softness, fluidity yet stubborness.

Well, that is how Sunar Sugiyou describes his mistress – the Chinese ink brush.

The delicate medium of Chinese ink has been around for centuries in China. Initially developed and used only by the literati in China, Chinese ink is now used by many, including the non-Chinese, in the creation of many genres of work, from traditional landscapes to abstract art. Chinese ink paintings do not necessarily come in black and white, now with the mixing of colours and dyes to achieve a coloured art piece. Artists will usually use an array of brushes, and prepare bowls of water, before they start painting onto delicate Japanese silk paper.

A pioneer design graduate of LaSalle College of the Arts (then St Patrick's Art Centre), Sunar Sugiyou started painting as a teenager. A talented designer in fashion, interior and graphics, it was during his studies at LaSalle which spurred his interest in fine art to another level. Not before long, he started participating in art exhibitions, even being highly commended at a couple of international art awards.

His early works were in acrylic and mixed media on canvas, and usually trying to express his take on social norms. Being of Javanese origin, though born, bred and schooled in Singapore, Sunar's paintings would also include Javanese influences like the wayang, silat, and the Ramayana, as well as Malay cultural issues.

Sunar started painting in Chinese ink in 2000, developing a wide body of work covering cultures, festivals, social mores, landscapes and many more. In the Year of the Rooster in 2006, he created the "Jagoh" or Hero series, with the rooster as his main subject. This series was a hit, having sold almost 100% of the works created!

This year, at the age of 51, Sunar Sugiyou holds his third solo exhibition in 3 decades, entitled "Home". His last solo was in 2005.

Bussorah Street #1, Chinese ink, 520 x 500mm, 2013

Bussorah Street #2, Chinese ink, 355 x 370 mm, 2013

Showing 30 recent works in Chinese ink, Sunar depicts scenes of old Singapore based on references and his own memories. His "Jagoh" series also makes a comeback, like the artist, with a revival  – it now includes the Loving Dad, Loving Mum, Chicks, My Siblings and Family series.

Despite being self-taught in the Chinese ink, medium, his technique has been described to be of an advanced level for a non-Chinese artist. Beyond technique, Sunar's story is about hope and determination, and his progress as an artist in Singapore.

Knowing how tough it could be in difficult times, Sunar will contribute part of the proceeds from the sale of artworks at "Home" to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Needy Patients Fund for those who fall through the cracks.

Chicks series #3, Chinese ink, 505 x 460 mm,  2013

Loving Dad #2, Chinese ink, 505 x 460 mm, 2013

Why is "Home" a must see? 

Besides the fact that it is held at the beautiful and historic Fullerton Hotel, which once housed the General Post Office, this is an exhibition featuring our local talent. Being a Malay of Javanese heritage and using a Chinese medium, it reflects the diversity of Singaporeans, and of leaving the comfort zone to explore a different culture and learning new ways of doing things.

Sunar may not be the only non-Chinese artist to have mastered to a certain extent, an ancient Chinese medium, but his delicate, yet unassuming strokes are definitely worth looking at.

Home by Sunar Sugiyou 
A charity exhibition

The Fullerton Hotel, East Garden Foyer
1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178

The exhibition runs until 12 September 2013.

For further details, please email to event@mayagallery.com.sg.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Do You Dare Abstract?

"It doesn't make sense."

"My kids can do the same thing!"

"Just utter nonsense."

Wassily Kandinsky, Composition VII,  1913

Some of the common exclamations one hears when in the presence of viewing abstract art pieces.

Abstract art can be a tough form of art to comprehend or even appreciate sometimes, because of its very nature of stepping away from visible reality. The human perception of what is real, tends to not recognise (or tends to get confused by) some abstract works, because most abstract portrays something that does not exist in the real world. That form of abstract art however, can be classified as total abstraction. There are many other forms of abstract art, some of which show reference to reality - and we're sure, there will be one that your perception is inclined towards.

The bottom line is, abstract art creates a platform whereby viewers are drawn into a world that balances between the unreal and the real, through the forms, lines, colours and emotions all surging through the canvas (or any other medium it decides to use as a messenger). Viewers have the freedom to create an understanding that is only theirs, for there is no boundaries set by reality in abstract works.
Then again, no boundaries does not mean there is no technique set in the process of creating an abstract work. For what seems to be mere clashes of colours and textures to come together in perfect harmony, takes an innate understanding between artist and the work. One cannot simply scribble on a piece of paper and call it abstract art. The scribble has a reason for being, a scribble. The colours are thrown in a loose manner, for a desired effect. There is a deeper conversation in progress, than just what meets the eye through visual aesthetics.

It's not for the weak at heart for sure.
It's for the open-minded, and the ones who dare to take on a challenge.

Abstract art. Why not try it today?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Batik Painting Art Programmes!

It has been scientifically proven that students who take an interest and pursue art education, are provided with a good "solid foundation for their educational, emotional, social and creative development."
Here at Maya Gallery, we believe in our providing a platform for this development in individuals of all ages. One of the programmes we do offer here is the Batik Painting workshop.

To appreciate batik fully, one must understand the extreme intricacy of the process and the great patience, care and skill it demands. This course will equip students with in-depth knowledge about batik, its history, the processes involved in producing a batik art piece - which includes color blending, stretching, waxing, cracking, washing and drying. Each session lasts for 2 hours. Artworks produced will be a 15x15 inch wood stretcher and a 9.5x9.5 inch cotton on board. All students can take home their own batik art piece as a testimony of their new found skills!

Take the first step to help your child's creative development by letting them try their hands at Batik Painting. To have a taste of what the session will encompass, you can also drop by the gallery on Saturdays and have a chat with the batik master, Tumadi, himself.

See you at Maya Gallery soon!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Meet The Artist : Naz-Kaya Erdal

We had a chance to ask Naz Kaya what her story was - as a woman and an artist on a journey.
Here's what we found out.

After graduating, Naz started teaching as a design faculty at the University of Georgia, where she received her tenure and promotion and proceeded to move to Houston, Texas. There she started taking advanced painting classes at the Glassell School of Art. At the same time, she kept practicing at a major design and architectural firm in Houston. She began to showcase her artworks in juried exhibitions and did commissioned artworks in Houston.

From 2010 to 2012, due to her husband's job, as an expatriate she moved to Jakarta, Indonesia where she continued painting in her own studio. During her stay in Indonesia, she travelled around and engaged in different cultures in the Far East Asia. She became more aware of other cultures and was able to reflect those personal experiences and observations into her paintings. In October 2012, she had her first solo art exhibition - "Inspiration : Transition" in Jakarta. Her paintings received admiration from several art collectors throughout the world and became successful in building network of relationships in the art community.

Naz has had a strong passion for art since her childhood year. She's inspired by daily events and expresses her feelings on canvas - her creative outlet. In her paintings, it is easy to find the impact of her design background through the use of distinct geometry and colour composition. Her abstract style in using vivid colours and heavy textures is her unique way of illustrating her personal thoughts.

"Art is a form of visual communication," she says. "It's a visual communication, yet it affects all our senses. You can easily communicate this to your viewers and draw people's attention if you believe in what you do. I follow my instincts and my feelings."

To view some of Naz Kaya - Erdal's works, do drop by Colourful Chaos. Exhibition runs through 19th February.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Meet the Artist : Valerie Ng

Maya Gallery sat down with Valerie Ng to find out how she brings inspiration to the canvas and where to find the best trees in Singapore!

Gallery (G) : You have mentioned earlier that Finland inspired you with its environment and nature. Would you say that works in Colourful Chaos reflect the time you spent there? And if so, in what way did it affect you as an artist?

Valerie Ng (VN) : I would say in general that doing artist residencies overseas (Vermont, Iceland and Finland) and in the countryside area or even local rainforest really inspired me with the open spaces and the variety in fauna and changes in environment/weather. So colours and macro-textures are reflected. Feeling of space, freedom and time taken to absorb nature while walking thru the forest or landscape gives me more inspiration.

G : How would you describe the works on showcase at Colourful Chaos?

VN : Earthy colours. Textured. Flow of nature. Abstract impression.

G : Is there a certain reflection of yourself as an individual in the works?

VN : Not really personally, but I think of painting as a transfer of energy in the strokes and mood in the colours though these in turn are absorbed from surroundings. I guess I like how even though sometimes the surface and colours are chaotic, they come together as a whole and that is the instinctive part of doing abstract works that comes from individual expression as they do not directly represent anything.

G : How long were you in Malaysia before you came over to Singapore? Did you feel a change in environment that translated through your works?

VN : Over 20 years. It's a more dense urban environment but I wouldn't say my works changed because of it, as I wasn't really painting seriously when I was in Malaysia. The jungle fauna/flora is still similar - just have to go to certain pockets to find it in Singapore. There are still some really nice huge trees behind Queenstown or even on Orchard Road. I guess I gain more inspiration when I travel overseas and get to feel more relaxed spaces and open landscapes. I guess my earlier works were more dense and geometric while it has evolved into more freeflowing and organic works.

Works by Valerie Ng can be viewed at Maya Gallery. Colourful Chaos runs till the 19th of February.

Meet the Artist : Deusa Blumke

We had a little chat with Brazilian artist, Deusa Blumke (above), to give us an insight regarding her artworks, and who she is as an artist.

Gallery (G) : You've moved to and fro a number of countries around the world. Has this affected your choice to present artworks in an abstract manner?

Deusa Blumke (DB): I cannot deny that's part of it. Painting has a solid history and human beings have been using art throughout centuries in different ways and to serve different purposes. My explorations with materials, surfaces and colours, comes from my attempt to free the painting from the surface - making most of my marks under or between them - , to make it more rebellious and where normally the artist controls the painting in a way they should 'behave' and be, my paintings are not passive. They have something to say. It's almost like a dance - the use of energy, gravity and time to make the marks, and I respond to what they want to become. I listen to the works idea in terms of colours, sizes and shapes when it comes to what I want to produce - it is an active process.
Maybe this connection with moving around so much (not as much as some of my friends) and this response in my work, has to do with appreciating the moment and when we do not know what the future holds and where we will be next... we learn to appreciate today more than holding onto unnecessary worries. My paintings celebrate that. They don't behave the way they should in traditional ways.
Having said that, I admire masters of the past - like Matisse, for his colours and sensibility, Cezanne for his inventions and skilled drawings - and I learn lot from contemporary artists from Singapore and abroad. But I try to grow and find my voice in this ocean filled with talents.
It's a challenge. But I enjoy a challenge. They help me evolve.

G : Describe to us in your own words, how you would best depict your works of art?

Perhaps I have already answered some part of it in the first answer. But I aim to explore the idea of creating possibilities. I learnt a lot about contemporary art in LASALLE College of the Arts and explored a bit with different forms of expressions. My passion, however, was set in getting dirty with paint and watching them come alive. That truly excited me. The colours and forms reveal ways and opportunities through which one could express themselves. In a highly globalised society, were nobody seems to have time to pay attention to details and everyone is rushing to accomplish something small or big, the individual seems to lose himself and does not dare stop for a moment, fearing the thought of being alone. It can be hard sometimes, but I celebrate self-discovery and isolation. It is possible to create something from inside of you. It is there, and if you are kind to yourself and patient, you will find it.
My works are very personal, but it also talks about finding ones voice in this... contemporary society. When I work, I close the door and make sure nobody disturbs me. It is my time, with my work, and I will do all I can to be in the present with it and away from all other distractions. I believe in being in an active peace mode individually.
My works are created with my energy and commitment. I hope the viewers pay attention to their minute details, and slow down a little from their busy lives... to take in the colours, and the energy from the works, in their own time and space, and appreciate it through their own distinct taste.

G : How would you guide viewers to better understand your works? We know abstract art can be rather intimidating to some people.

DB : I believe each art work that an artist creates is unique, and special. Although I share my experiences and working process, I would prefer to allow the viewer to experience my works in his or her own way. We all have to respond and follow so many rules in different aspects of our everyday lifes - at work, in public, at home even - , that when you appreciate art... it should be a time to enjoy and hopefully open the mind to possibilities. For when you leave the presence of the art piece (or hopefully, you take it your private collection), you will see things a little differently.
I know it can be challenging for some to understand these works, but I believe the viewer should have some time with the artwork. Experience it in his own way, and take that experience with him. Appreciate the moment. And if they are not entirely familiar with art and what it's all about...  they should just take their time, and gain more exposure by attending more shows. You will grow from within.

Works by Deusa Blumke can be seen at Maya Gallery, till the 19th of February.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Colourful Chaos - Bold textures. Robust Colours. Personal Stories.

The term ‘abstract’ tends to send a little chill down the spines of many.  It often does not “directly represent anything”[1]. Most abstract art do not focus on the literal, but provides the freedom for viewers to determine the subject of the work based on what they see and how they personally interpret the works through personal perspectives – be it through the brush strokes, the distorted imageries, shapes, size, color and even the exaggerated textures and forms that hint at the process of the work. This vast freedom of interpretation that is handed over to the viewer, could often intimidate one – for the lines between what could be the right or wrong meaning of a painting is greatly blurred, and in most cases, cease to exist in the first place.

Yet, at the end of the day, “art is an attempt to understand the meaning of our existence[2]”.  We do that on a daily basis, when we analyze the reasons for why we do what we do. The three women showcase their own attempts, to portray the different things that have been a part of their journeys as a woman and an artist. The works show strong references to their backgrounds – with Deusa Blumke’s burst of colors being inspired by her Brazilian heritage, and Valerie Ng’s earthy tones pointing us to her soft spot for nature. It is interesting to note the spontaneity of the brushstrokes that reflect the personal lives of the artists  - where all 3 artists had to leave the countries they were brought up in for various reasons, and start afresh as strangers in a strange land. Colourful Chaos highlights the artists’ ability to balance the frenzied textures on the works – be it as a reflection due to the unpredictability of having to move to another country, start anew in life or just traveling and discovering new things along the way – together with inviting and soothing colours that draws one in. The theme of constant movement and unpredictability is one that can be related to easily by viewers, in this society which is highly globalized and cosmopolitan.

Maya Gallery is proud to present Colourful Chaos as its first exhibition for 2013. It runs from January 22nd through 19th February 2013.

[1] The Intelligence of Vision : An Interview with Rudolf Arnheim, 2001 

[2] Valerie Ng, Interview with Maya Gallery, 18th January