Be There

Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present “Be There”, a group exhibition featuring four artists: Akira the Hustler, Hilmi Johandi, Jong YuGyong, Nobuaki Takekawa. The exhibition explores how each artist reacts to the history and socio-political situation around them through their artworks.

 

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with various media to pursue ideas of image-making. In his video work shown here, Hilmi uses printouts to create a stop-motion animation – the work is a composition of images borrowed from tourist advertisements and travel documentary clips of Singapore produced in the past. Footages are dissected into frames and superimposed into a piece to create a visual experience that highlights the constructedness of its representation. Beyond the reflection of nostalgia in Hilmi’s work, is a subtle portrayal of a society that encourages the viewer to reflect on existing historical narratives.

 

Nobuaki Takekawa’s work Cat Olympics: Gymnastic Field (2017) recreates a gymnasium setting with over a hundred cat athletes and audiences made of ceramic. The work creates an opportunity for viewers to look at the celebrated Olympics Games event, which also tends to reveal complex underlying issues. Takekawa observed that then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had announced plans to revise areas of the country’s constitution, amidst the frenzy leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Takekawa remarks, “this is not a direct criticism to human society though,” leaving his viewers to ponder upon the implicit relationship between the excitement of the sports event and our fundamental political rights.

 

As an artist, Akira the Hustler commits to anti-discrimination activities related to marginalized groups. Shown here are 2 of his works from the series Tools for Hope (2018). One has the painted phrase “Grab Your Anger” and the other, “Grab Your Hope”, and have stylistic motifs inspired by protest signs from recent demonstrations in Japan. Akira is curious about the role of art in society and tends to create works that are strewn with messages, formations and symbols, communicating an urgent, real-world message to mobilize viewers to be politically aware.

 

Jong Yugyong’s painting series For One and Only Country (2017-) takes reference from North Korean propaganda posters found on the Internet, which he breaks down and transforms into a highly “pop” format. At first glance, the painting may appear abstract. However, looking at it from a distance, one may notice that the outlines formed by the slight gap between the dots are silhouettes of workers and soldiers. Both in Japan and in Korea where artist currently lives, Jong has been treated as “Zainichi”, a person who is neither Japanese nor Korean. His indifferent attitude towards the propaganda posters, the difficulty of grasping a sense of distance, and the vague outline of the subject itself, are a precise reflection of the relationship between the artist and his country.

 

Ota Fine Arts invites all to experience and reflect on the topics raised by the artists through these artworks.

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