You work as a lecturer in Design Communication at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore. What do you think is the relationship between design and art?
In a few words, both are interrelated – however, design has got more to do with a specific answer to a brief idea, objectives and targets, solving a problem or pleasing a client; on the other hand, art has more to do with emotions and feelings.
What role has printmaking had in your practice, as it also spans painting, drawing, sculpture and installation?
Print requires specific techniques to achieve a certain degree of success, however, I always push those boundaries to break the rules and introduce new things that a printmaker does not conventionally do. This includes not overlapping specific colours, not using mark registrations, and so on. Things that happen in printing rooms often become barriers to me, with those technicalities.
I guess that semi-mechanical approach, the feeling that you get when you do things with your hands, the rhythm of it, the possibilities of working with an idea and being able to multiply experiments and variations; these are what attracted me the most, which is a completely different thing when you are drawing or painting. For bigger projects like installations, I often use these approaches in my objects or fabrics surfaces.
Could you expand more on the process behind creating Apophenia?
The idea started when I went to Bali for a batik workshop. During that trip, I saw a series of masks being exhibited; I am very much a fan of them, and I started to get these ideas down and started to combine a mask made out of fabric with batik techniques. These ideas went on developing for a period of time, and I created a series of experiments with fabric. This is my way of starting things rolling and connecting ideas together in my head – for this project, such a process went on in different directions, and simultaneously allowed me to come up with unexpected ideas.
I can work with various projects at some time; projects can take a very long time to crystalise, they can be sitting in my sketchbook or head for a while, for even years, waiting to be rescued and given a chance to emerge again. Ideas find connections in many unintuitive and unconventional ways that make sense to me.
Your work deals with humour, irony and naivety. How important do you think those qualities are in art-making?
Humour is very important to me; I believe a dose of humour in my projects is what drives me to create. If I don’t have fun with what I am creating, then it tells me somehow the idea isn’t working. Irony is a little different – I use it when the subjects are a little bit more “serious”, so I can develop something more like a commentary.
A lack of style and sophisticated artistic techniques are not part of my worries when I start a project. I always want to try something new, especially something that I am not familiar with. Therefore, I allow myself to make mistakes and see these mistakes as the starting points of my projects. The journey is more important to me that the final end result.
How has your overall practice grown since moving to Singapore over nineteen years ago?
I had wanted to live in Asia for a long time, and Singapore is a great place to be; personally I feel that it has developed in many different ways. I have grown more aware of my surroundings here, allowing me to be more sensitive and appreciative of what is happening around me culturally and socially. This region offers an immense and beautiful history, and can even be seen as an example of heaven on earth; artistically speaking, my growth has been parallel with that of Singapore’s. This is a country where so many things are possible, where opportunities can be provided for so many people. In a way, this has allowed me to work with many different communities, and they are able to have fun with my various creations.