An aluminium lantern, composed of ordinary kitchen cookware, is laid on its side, echoing the domesticity of the objects in the drawings. Light spills from punctured holes forming patterns, Sanskrit script and the phrase “I AM OK”, which can also be read “I AMOK”. “Amok” is derived from Javanese (amuk) and it means to behave wildly out of control or frenziedly. It was used by early Western travellers to Asia (sometimes with derogatory connotations) to describe local soldiers when apparently facing inevitable defeat, suddenly burst into a frenzy of violence which so startled their enemies that it either delivered victory or at least ensured what the soldiers considered an honourable death. These two vastly different meanings of the same phrase, changed only by inserting a space between two different letters, illustrates how perspectives and meanings can change so easily, but more importantly these two states of being can reside in the same person.
Jimmy Ong (b. 1964, Singapore) graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in
Philadelphia, USA in 1992, and is regarded as one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation.
Since the 1980s, Ong has been recognised for his monumental figurative charcoal works on paper. His drawings often focus on traditional Confucian philosophical themes like filial piety, ancestral worship, his own complex familial relationships and struggles with accepted gender identities and roles. In recent years, he has started to explore historical political figures and events, focusing on the colonial history in Southeast Asia.
He has exhibited extensively locally and internationally. His artworks are in the permanent collections of the National University Of Singapore Museum and the National Gallery Singapore, Deutsche Bank AG, amongst other private and corporate collections.
Ong currently works between Yogyakarta and Singapore. He is represented by FOST Gallery in Singapore.
Aluminium with lighting
H45 x W120 x D45 cm (artwork); W180 cm (metal chain)