Having fun in 2013

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.

Fahcheong with Good Fun!

Fahcheong with Good Fun!

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.

installation of black granite blocks 065

BOOK LAUNCH! Coming July 20, 2013

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

Book Launch Teaser

Upcoming Exhibition – January 31, 2013

Textures, Tones & Timbres: Art of Chong Fahcheong

bark studies_crop detail

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

Sculptor shows his other side

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.

Passages Exhibition Opening & Upcoming talk by the artist – Sat. Nov. 19th

The opening of the exhibition was a success!  The torrential storm was short and sweet and cleared the air about 2 hours before the opening.  Candles were lit, beer was poured and fun was had by all!  A heartfelt thanks to the many people who made this event happen, we could not have done it without you guys.  Cheers to all those who attended, and for those who have not yet visited Passages, we look forward to seeing you!

A talk by the artist on his work and process will be held at the exhibition space at Emily Hill.  Come join in, ask questions, check out the pieces and maybe have some snacks.

Date:  Saturday November 19, 2011
Time:  2:30pm – 3:30pm

Hope to see you there!

PASSAGES – upcoming exhibition shout out!

As promised, here’s the info for fahcheong’s upcoming exhibition.  We’re all buckled down here and working away to get the show on the road.  Sculptures are being sanded, plinths are being constructed and cleaned up, lighting is being discussed, beer is being sampled…not really, but if anybody wants to bring refreshments by the workspace at Emily Hill, we definitely won’t say ‘no’!

As well, we’ve managed to sound the horn in a couple of other places.  Check out the links below to more info on Passages:

http://www.timeoutsingapore.com/art/events/chong-fah-cheong-passages

http://s-pores.com/

We hope to see you all there!

Interview for the Peak magazine

Last week independent writer and all round multi-faceted personality Woon Tai Ho interviewed fahcheong for the Peak.  Tai Ho came by the workspace in the afternoon, and sat among the wood and stone pieces that will form the basis for the upcoming exhibition.  It was very interesting for all involved, especially when the photographer and art director came by to take photos of the artist.  We made them do double work by telling them to move some artworks around.  As well, I have never heard fahcheong referred to as a “doyen of public art” before.

Main topics of discussion were fahcheong’s public art, his motivations for producing such works, his ideas on public art, and the artist’s artistic process in general.  It’s very telling that Tai Ho thought the artist only worked in bronze, when in actual fact this medium is comparatively recent compared to say, wood and marble.  “Temusek”, a marble sculpture which was purchased by SMRT and installed at the old Somerset MRT Station (it’s now somewhere in Bishan) was actually fahcheong’s first sculpture commission.  “First Generation”, the bronze of 5 boys jumping into the Singapore River, is the public sculpture fahcheong is most well known for.

The interview went quite well, and Tai Ho remarked that fahcheong was unlike any artist he’d previously interviewed, in terms of how he viewed his creations.  Other artists, he told us, seem to want to have their works displayed in pristine galleries, away from wandering hands, elevated to some higher status.  Fahcheong is adamant that his public works anyway, be for the public and of the public.  It is no use creating a piece of work which is in a public space and most likely paid for by the public’s tax dollars, to be completely untouchable and unapproachable.  It must mean something to those viewing it, and become a part of their lives as a result of it.

Some interesting quotes and ideas from the interview:

“People read agendas and meanings of their own into public art pieces.”

“Unless you want to be stone dead, you have to move.”

“Public art should have continuity and be part of place and history; become the stories that endure.”

Back in Singapore

October sees fahcheong back in Singapore and working on putting the finishing touches on pieces for his upcoming exhibition!  “Passages” is a long-awaited solo exhibition after a hiatus of over a decade, and will feature many new and powerful works as well as older works from the artist’s personal collection.

We’re all excited over the rather unconventional venue – fahcheong’s work studio, complete with wood chips on the floor and works in progress – and looking forward to the many varied reactions that we’re sure to receive.  The exhibition will be open to the public from November 18 – 26, 2011 at Emily Hill.

Works in wood, bronze and stone will be presented, revealing fahcheong’s personal development of ideas, and the maturation of both his concepts and his methodology.

Stay tuned for further details and the official invite!