All is not as it was, nothing as it will be

Our exhibition title ‘All is not as it was, nothing as it will be’ speaks of both a nostalgia for the past and an acceptance of inevitable change. It is a rather profound line taken from poet and academic Simon Tay’s poem, ‘Changi: In Three Scenes’, which reflects on the extent of Singapore’s development and how the country was going to alter further. With the extensive transformation of Singapore since the1940s, how did these artists interpret their constantly changing environments?

We seek to answer this question by interrogating the qualities of photography alongside the more ‘traditional’ painterly mediums. Nanyang artist Liu Kang – the sole individual in the exhibition not working in photography – responded to the ASEAN Art Exhibition in 1974 by arguing that for something to be considered art, it has to go beyond verisimilitude. To him, due to the mechanical nature of the camera, the ability of the artist to express emotion is restrained. Though noted decades ago, Liu Kang’s comments continue to reflect the thoughts of many today.

From idyllic rural scenes to shifting interiors and urban scapes, this exhibition juxtaposes an array of mediums including painting, pastel drawing, and photography. The latter is presented in a variety of guises – straight, long-exposure and intermedia. We invite you to ponder upon our ever-evolving landscape while comparing the qualities of each medium, finding connections across time in the process.