So honoured to be awarded the Cultural Medallion for visual arts for 2014. Grinned from ear to ear, shook the hands of many, received congratulations galore, “chatted” with Mr. President and his wife, flashbulbs popped (do they today?) in my face, interviewed by multi media, saw my larger-than-life face on a billboard … THANK YOU, everyone, for your support.
Looking at 2013 in retrospect, it was a busy and very productive year. It began with preparations for the big exhibition at the National University of Singapore’s museum in February. No sooner was that done when a bronze sculpture needed to be finished for the Interlace condo at Alexandra. But it was fun making Good Fun!, as we finally called it. It recalls a time when children created their own games instead of relying on store-bought toys and technology.
Good Fun! is about two young boys playing with an adult-sized bicycle. One boy has obtained this bicycle (maybe belonging to his father or older brother) and is pedaling it as best as he can. He has his younger playmate in tow. This other boy is just about to fall off his improvised skateboard when the moment is captured forever in bronze.
Good Fun is the latest of a trio of sculptures that establish Chong Fahcheong as the artist who best and most succinctly captures the good old times of Singapore and keeps them alive in our memories. Fans of the sculptor will know of First Generation, those five naked boys jumping into the Singapore River. And if you visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, look for another bronze sculpture depicting six boys playing Chang Kuda, a game of piggyback and who’s first to the post!
The power and presence of stone
No sooner had he finished this work than Fahcheong had to switch gears and turn his attention to a very different and demanding task – the creation of a non-narrative work this time, to be achieved in stone.
The result: a deceptively simple sculpture which Fahcheong called Granite Gate. Fahcheong resists the temptation here to do “too much” to his material. Instead, he allows the two large pieces of Vietnamese black granite to impress their monolithic presence upon the viewer, who is invited to walk through this “gate”, to be a part of the sculpture, to enjoy its elegant flowing lines, different textures and polished internal surfaces.
It’s coming! The long awaited book on Fahcheong. Chock full of beautiful images, quotations from the artist talking about his works, his life and his inspirations, with introductory text at the start of each chapter and an essay and conversation transcript by renowned art historian T.K. Sabapathy.
You’re invited! See below for full details on our book launch, and don’t forget to fill out the book pre-order form for a 20% discount! (Books will be sold at the book launch, so come on by!)
(click the link) Fahcheong Art Book – Preorder Form
Textures, Tones & Timbres: Art of Chong Fahcheong
A new and extremely comprehensive exhibition to kick off the new year will be held on January 31, 2013 at NUS Museum in Singapore’s premier post-secondary institution, the National University of Singapore. For those who didn’t know, that’s also the artist’s alma mater!
Newly completed large scale works will be on display, as well as reproductions of archival photos and sketches, maquettes and sculpture studies, and explanatory text exploring the artist’s continuing fascination with the raw material, the inspiration and wonder they impart, and the artistic process of unlocking their potential.
The exhibition will have a good run till the end of April 2013, so we encourage one and all to come on by, explore the exhibition, enjoy the beautiful campus grounds and take in Fahcheong’s other commissioned sculptures, installed primarily around and in the NUS Shaw Foundation Alumni House.
Click the link!
Textures, Tones & Timbres: Press Release
Naked boys jumping into the river or two coolies perched on their stools and slurping down a meal of rice porridge … these are two sculptures that many of us are familiar with in our Singapore environment.
But just recently, sculptor Chong Fahcheong who created these sculptures held a solo exhibition that revealed a totally different side of his artistic world.
The exhibition, “Passages”, held at Emily Hill, had more than 20 sculptures that were well received by a wide audience of art lovers. There were many new, big works made of many materials – wood and stone of different types, jade and bronze – as well as older works from the artist’s personal collection. The selection of pieces showcased Fahcheong’s skill and passion for working in many different carving mediums.
Fahcheong finds inspiration for many of his works as he loves to “people watch” everywhere he goes and is especially fascinated by the sights and sounds of Singapore. Travelling on the MRT Train from home to his studio, or while having a plate of char kway teow and drinking kopi siew tai, his attention is claimed not so much by the food as by the animated group of ah mahs at the next table with their garrulous chatter accompanied by the broad and generous gestures of flying hands and pointing fingers.
“I’ve got to capture that in a sculpture,” he says, to his breakfast companion in the kopitiam.
Fahcheong’s sculptures have certainly captured the flavour of Singapore past. Born in 1946, he is a child of the post-war years and some of his public works reflect this time frame.
First Generation, that bronze sculpture of five naked boys jumping into the Singapore River, is very well known. “I remember seeing boys jumping into the river when I was young. A recently completed sculpture is that of six boys at a game of piggy-back. Chang Kuda can be seen in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, opposite the Swan Lake. “In those days, we were not buried under a mountain of schoolwork and homework. We would throw down our books the moment we came home from school and run out to play. We never returned home until it was dark,” says Fahcheong.
Although sculptures like these take us back to a time before, Singaporeans today can still relate to the ideas of fun and simple childhood play that they depict so well.
That is why the sculptor Chong Fahcheong is important in the Singapore art scene. He helps us to remember our past, placing us in the context of our history. It is only by knowing our past can we move forward with confidence into the future.
Although he lives in Canada, he spends much of his time in Singapore, returning again and again to his roots. He says his connection with and exploration of his cultural roots was never so strong until he moved away from the island of his birth more than 20 years ago.
For images of all new works in Passages Exhibition click HERE.