Featuring ten established and emerging artists based in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Sydney and the Philippines, Playing with Paper: Intimacies & Possibilities explores how the participating artists portray profound intimacies and vast possibilities on paper, that are both specific to their contexts, yet simultaneously transcend boundaries across time, techniques, traditions and geographies.
The artists come from wide-ranging practices: some have formed their artistic careers largely on the paper material, while others are more recognised for their paintings on canvas, mixed media pieces or sculptural works. Nonetheless, the show brings together the artists’ distinct plays with paper that stand as important, though at times unexplored, aspects of their oeuvres. Though their interactions with the material are just as diverse, ranging from oil, acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink, to ink and pigments on paper, the artists are united by their deep sensitivity to the immediacy and fluidity of the material, and the way movement, texture and colours on paper can offer fresh, affective ways of seeing and expressing their realities.
Most of the participating artists are based in Singapore, offering a rich, dynamic mix of artists across generations and artistic traditions—from pioneers of modern art who depicted humanising glimpses of the rapidly modernising city-state during the mid century, to younger artists portraying the fluctuating interior conditions of living in contemporary Singapore and the unique experiences of diasporic artists today. They similarly root from varying influences, such as poetry, Chinese calligraphy, abstract expressionism, and the complex intricacy and spiritual qualities of nature; and a wide range of processes—from employing a more visceral, energetic and spontaneous approach, to a slower, more meticulous and highly detailed technique. Paper then serves as the thread that connects these Singapore-based artists to artists dwelling in neighboring countries: whether they reveal vivid depictions of tense social issues in Thailand, deeply psychological landscapes in Sydney, childlike portraits of everyday folk in Indonesia, or sharp, chaotic abstractions in the Philippines—the artists root back to paper to concentrate their concerns, producing pieces that are powerful in the way their intensity and vibrancy are carried by the fragile material.
Ultimately, the show hopes to spark a conversation on how paper can serve as a vital entry point into illuminating invisible threads across modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia. Because of their relatively small scale, the works on display are bonded by an intimacy akin to what is found in the private sketchbooks of artists, while they simultaneously express infinite possibilities in form, style and content—not in spite of the material of paper, but because of it.