Koh Nguang How
1 July 2014 – 31 January 2015
Koh Nguang How’s (b. 1963, Singapore) artistic practice started in 1988 and encompasses photography, collage, assemblage, installation, performance art, documentation, archiving, curating and research. He worked in the National Museum Art Gallery as a Museum Assistant from October 1985 to December 1991. He was a researcher in the pilot Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Researcher/Curator in Residence Program 1999. He photo-documented the activities of The Artists Village since its first open studio show in 1989, to the Post-Ulu show in 1999. His collection of materials on art and culture also enabled him to initiate his Singapore Art Archive Project in 2005. His newspaper cuttings collection under the title Artists in the News were part of the 3rd Singapore Biennale (2011).
Koh Nguang How is an artist and independent researcher on Singapore art. His project, Singapore Art Archive Project @ Centre for Contemporary Art (SAAP@CCA) encompasses material touching the Singapore art scene from the 1920s until the arrival of the Internet. An entirely material archive with most documentation provided by the artist himself, this project developed as a response to the lack of a national art archive.
His residency at NTU CCA Singapore enabled public access to the archive for an extended period of time with a wealth of material showing extensive regional exchange as well as many international exhibitions in Singapore, debunking the myth of an isolated art scene .The ensuing dialogue and conversation with Koh are key when visiting this collection. Here the role of the artist is the role of cultural memory keeper.
As an expanded version of his NTU CCA Residencies project, Singapore Art Archive Project @ Centre for Contemporary Art, Koh Nguang How presents the temporary exhibition Shui Tit Sing – 100 Years of an Artist through his Archives. Following this idea of a responsive archive, Koh has chosen to profile one of the lesser known early artists from Singapore’s art history, Shui Tit Sing (1914 – 1997), who commenced his artistic training in 1935, the same year the Gillman Barracks were erected. Shui trained at the Hangzhou National Fine Art College in Western painting and developed a practice that crosses fluidly between this Western style, as seen through fauvist devices in early self portraits, through to his Chinese ink painting. He is known for his wood carving sculptures largely influenced by bas relief from temples around Southeast Asia. An avid photographer, painter and sculptor Shui remained active within exhibitions including at the National Museum Art Gallery from 1946 to early 1990s. Shui also spent the 1960s and 1970s travelling through Southeast Asia gaining influences from the various art forms encountered in Cambodia, Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra. Curated by Koh, material in this exhibition demonstrates an artist re-constructing the activities of another artist through ephemera, sketches, reproductions and original artworks, reflecting the complexities of Shui’s artistic and intellectual “vita active” as an artist, journalist and educator. Koh was granted guardianship of this unique collection by the family of Shui Tit Sing.
Pratchaya Phinthong presents the piece Untitled (Singapore), 2014 as part of research undertaken on his time at NTU CCA Residencies. The work explores the idea of airspace as monitored and ambiguous. The work can be viewed from the rear exterior of Block 38, Malan Road.
Pratchaya Phinthong projects materialise in alternative ways according to the content of the research. His methodological process is an intense research by embedding himself within a community or through working with experts and interlocutors. Phinthong’s recent exhibitions include a solo presentation at gbagency, Paris (2012) and dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), Kassel.
The opening of Untitled (Singapore), 2014 will be held on Friday, 19 December at 7.00pm in conjunction with the closing of fellow Artist-in-Residence, Koh Nguang How‘s exhibition for Shui Tit Sing – 100 Years of an Artist through his Archives.
Travel through time with Koh Nguang How’s archive as he recreates The Time Show, a 24-hour performance, organised by The Artists Village from New Year’s Eve of 1989 to New Year’s Day of 1990. Involving collaborations with artists over a 12 hour duration starting from noon until midnight 23 January 2015, the project presents a moment to usher in the new year and reflect on past artists’ activities in Singapore.