Art is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the making of objects, images, music, etc., that are beautiful or express feelings”. We know what art means. And two exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore showcase art in ways you might not expect! You’re in for an art odyssey with compelling artworks from modern ink master, Liu Kuo-sung, and contemporary genius, Shilpa Gupta, from now till 25 February 2024 and 31 March 2024, respectively!
National Gallery Singapore presents the beautiful and innovative showcases, Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method, an exhibition that celebrates the artist’s 70-year-long career, and Untitled by Shilpa Gupta, an inflatable installation on the Gallery’s roof terrace that will prompt reflection of everyday issues.
Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method
Liu Kuo-sung is an artist who has transformed art and the realm of Chinese ink, and National Gallery Singapore is showcasing the largest solo exhibition dedicated to Liu Kuo-sung in a Singapore public institution.
The 91-year-old artist has seen the world through some ground-breaking moments and has documented them in his works. This exhibition spotlights Liu’s spirit of experimentation in his work, which transcends beyond just brush painting techniques – exploring the use of materials to achieve textural effects in his paintings for an enhanced visual impact.
At this exhibition, you will travel through a time machine and see the world through Liu Kuo-sung’s eyes. Over 60 ink works and 150 archival materials across four exhibition sections will highlight the impact Liu has left on modern Chinese ink painting. As you visit each artwork, you’ll notice that the artist reconstructs traditions with a touch of modernity, which makes his works even more profound.
Let’s explore some of the most touching works you’ll encounter in your journey.
Dance of the Black Ink, 1963
During the initial stages of his artistic journey in the 1960s, Liu Kuo-sung had already started to make innovations in the use of ink. You will see them in the first exhibition section – Dance of Ink.
Your jaw will drop as you see his work, Dance of the Black Ink, done on a special form of paper that he invented himself – the Liu Kuo-sung Paper. It’s a coarsely textured, thick cotton paper with fibres “glued” to the paper’s surface. When ink is applied, the fibres are removed to create a unique effect of white lines and textures in the painting. It’s a magnificent sight that can only be appreciated with your very own eyes.
Moon Walk, 1969
This piece, both literally and metaphorically, documents a part of history that has changed our world – the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing! You’ll want to see this in the second exhibition section – Which Is Earth?
During the ‘60s, Liu Kuo-sung travelled to the United States, coinciding with the buzz of the first-ever moon landing. He was hit with inspiration, and in 1969, the year of the moon landing, he captured the event in a collage piece. He created Moon Walk by attaching an image torn out from LIFE magazine of the moon landing and painted the edges to blend it into his artwork seamlessly.
The elements of nature and the universe never stopped in Liu Kuo-sung’s work, and we see them Coming in the same exhibition section – Which Is Earth?
In 1968, the Apollo 8 space mission led its astronauts on board to become the first humans to witness the Earth rising above the moon’s barren surface. In the 2000s, Liu Kuo-sung revisited this moment and translated those cosmic views into Coming, which measures over three metres long and captures the movement of celestial objects across time and space.
By fusing this moment in history with the traditional touch of Chinese ink, Liu Kuo-sung brings the famous Earthrise photographs to ink in a memorable and unique way.
Snowscapes Reaching Beyond the Clouds, 2020
In the final exhibition section, Lying Down on Water, Mountains Rising and Falling, you will visit the moments of Liu Kuo-sung’s extensive travels to China from the 1980s.
Snowscapes Reaching Beyond the Clouds brings you to Tibet. As you gaze upon this breathtaking piece of art, the sheer detail and genius brush strokes make this artwork so realistic and spectacular. This magnificent piece seeks inspiration from the snow-capped mountains of Tibet. Just looking at it brings you there and delivers a strange sense of serenity.
Untitled by Shilpa Gupta
Shilpa Gupta presents a thought-provoking installation on the National Gallery Singapore’s Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden. As part of the institution’s annual commissioning of esteemed international artists, the Gallery is proud to showcase the work of internationally renowned artist Shilpa Gupta!
As soon as you enter from the far-end entrances of the terrace, you will encounter two intertwined bodies locked in combat from a distance. But as you walk towards them, a revelation hits you — the bodies are perched atop a single head. The intertwined bodies reveal a tapestry of meanings, encouraging reflection on the duality that we experience in our lives.
With the choice of the medium being inflatable, soft and malleable, the installation promotes a playful and explorative experience for visitors. Enveloped by the bustling Singapore skyline, “Untitled” reflects the vibrant chaos of an urban city, surrounded by its sights and stories. It captures the bustling energy and diverse experiences of city life, making it a must-see for anyone seeking a taste of the city’s pulse.
The artist also encourages you to get the full experience of the artwork by touching it and interacting with it, something that is a notorious no-no for most other artworks in museums and galleries.
Both Liu Kuo-sung and Shilpa Gupta have redefined art in their own ways with their works. From Liu Kuo-sung inventing his own paper, to Shilpa Gupta who changes your art-viewing experience, they both challenge the boundaries of art and remind us that we can do anything.
Visit the Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method and Untitled by Shilpa Gupta anytime from now to 25 February and 31 March, respectively. Art will never be the same ever again, with these iconic works in our world.
Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method and Untitled by Shilpa Gupta at National Gallery Singapore
- Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method – Till 25 February 2024
- Untitled by Shilpa Gupta – Till 31 March 2024
Location: National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957
Price for Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method:
- Free for all Singaporeans and PRs
- General Admission for Tourists and Foreign Residents – S$20
Untitled by Shilpa Gupta is free for all visitors
Opening Hours: 10am to 7pm
For more details, visit the National Gallery’s official website and stay tuned to their Instagram and Facebook pages for more updates! Before your visit, read all about Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method and Untitled by Shilpa Gupta to know what to look out for.
This post was brought to you by National Gallery Singapore.
Visuals courtesy of National Gallery Singapore.