An Extravagance of Minimalism

Taking in the National Gallery Singapore & ArtScience Museum's latest blockbuster show
Arty-FartyJanuary 10, 2019
Art Week is almost upon us in Singapore. Time to warm up your cultural brain and synapse those synapses with a quick taster of the Minimalism exhibition that is happening at both the National Gallery Singapore and the ArtScience Museum.


First, a sampling of what’s on offer at the Gallery:

Peter Kennedy
Neon Light Installations

Do you miss the old CityLink Mall corridor?
We do too.
Here’s your last chance.
Simi Sai Rating: 6/10

Olafur Eliasson
Room for one colour

If you ever wanted to know what the inside of a toaster oven feels like when switched on.
Simi Sai Rating: 8/10

Anish Kapoor

I once tried unsupervised meditation.
It felt like this.
I went back to eating meat.
Simi Sai Rating: 3/10

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
“Untitled” (Golden)

“Who put this ugly gold bead curtain here?”
“Oh. It’s the art.”
Checks exhibition guide again.
“I see… still. A bit extra, No?”
Simi Sai Rating : 5/10

Robert Irwin
Untitled (Another one? – Ed)

Nice. Very Nice.
Simi Sai Rating : 1/10

Lynda Benglis
Untitled (Polly’s Pie II)

This remarkably looks like the omelette that we reviewed at The English House!
But ratio of omelette to plate was more generous in the edible version.
Probably cost the same as well.
Simi Sai Rating : 10/10 (Really is like sai.)

Martin Creed
Work No 312
A lamp going on and off


I Know.
Really. See to believe.
Get the same lamp from Hock Siong, house a fidgety rat in your power socket.
Simi Sai Rating : 20/10

Moving on to an amuse-bouche of what you can see-see at the ArtScience Museum:

Song Dong
A pot of boiling water

Man. Pours boiling water in alleyway.
Water evaporates.
I think I need a cold beer now.
Simi Sai Rating: 15/10

Tan Ping

I know. Don’t you hate it when it happens to you, too?
And always when the floor is wet.
Simi Sai Rating: 8/10

Mary Miss
Portable Window

Some cheeky bastard left this coffeeshop table with a hole cut out for a portable gas burner in the gallery.
Think we don’t know.
Simi Sai Rating: 7/10

Simone Forti
Solo No. 1

Features a mental lady walking in circles and smelling her armpit.
Also someone you may find walking around your hawker centre downstairs.
Not original.
Simi Sai Rating: 10/10

Final Thoughts

So – Minimalism.
space. light. object.

Go, or don’t go?

Well, in our books, this exhibition is definitely a GO. Go. Go. GO…

Just go, lah!

This is a significant body of contemporary art, assembled from many, many, many museums and private collections from around the world, conveniently served on a platter for us to take in, albeit in a slightly compressed sequence. It’s fair to say that an exhibition of this nature is rather infrequent in our region and a very rare, tangible window into abstract thoughts, times and worlds – mostly strange, some funny. All of the encounters within the exhibition are spatial; The artworks fill the rooms, they anchor the rooms, they lighten or deepen the atmosphere; They work the senses. – This is fun, intriguing, powerful stuff.

But let’s be clear, this is an extensive exhibition of contemporary art. (As opposed to traditional/modern… look it up, can? This can be a can of worms). And contemporary art can feel absurd or indulgent because it essentially pursues ideas with rigour. No one is obliged to reason with it and the art/artist may not care for you to do so as well. (If you can, more power to you, you pretentious coc…)

So, the exhibition is what you make of it. And from what we saw on our visit, that is what other visitors instinctively did as well. We saw hypebeasts filming themselves dancing amongst the work, and Aunties doing kawaii poses, awkwardly draping themselves near the art. The juxtaposition of it all, highly amusing.

So who (else) should go?

You should pay this exhibition a visit, especially if you think that you like art in general, but are unsure if THIS type of art for you. Go and see whether/how much you can be convinced if this is what you think art should be. It may be like a peanut butter milkshake on a hot afternoon, or a bitter cup of hot ginseng ingested accidentally.

And even if you don’t care about art, go, because you will then have an even bigger opinion about why you don’t care for art, and specifically contemporary art! (Wooo!) You are now a more cultured person!

Cut loose. Enjoy it.

Just don’t touch the art, ok? That is a bit cheebs.

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