Ms Lucy Has An Art Show

We weigh in on whether you should go, go, go.
Arty-FartyJanuary 18, 2019
If there’s one thing you’ve heard about Singapore Art Week, it’s probably “National Museum something something LUCY LIU!” To which you’re probably thinking, “Huh, what?” Sit tight and follow us down this rabbit hole, dear reader, where all will be explained.

“I only heard Lucy Liu. Tell me what’s going on?”

So it turns out that in addition to being an actress, director, and UNICEF ambassador, Lucy Liu is also an artist! Not to be confused with artiste – no one really uses that word except desperadoes and Mediacorp – Lucy Liu is an artist in the most proper sense, as in, someone who makes art.

And so, it being Singapore Art Week, artist Lucy Liu is being featured in her first museum show alongside Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao in an exhibition titled Unhomed Belongings. The show is co-presented by the National Museum of Singapore and The Ryan Foundation, and is one of the things you must do in the next month if you want to seem cultured.

“Oh, I see. But Lucy Liu… can be an artist, meh?”

We get it. It’s easy to discount famous Hollywood actors’ forays into the art world. *Cough* Shia LeBeouf and *cough* the very persistent James Franco *cough*. Lucy Liu knows that herself, which is why she first started showing her art using her Chinese name, Liu Yu-Ling, as a pseudonym.

Commenting on the similarities between herself and Shubigi Rao at a recent talk held at Straits Clan, Lucy explains, “Our themes are very similar. We both also used aliases at one point in our careers as artists. She had the alias as a man, and I had an alias as my Chinese name. And the reasons why were not dissimilar; she felt that she would not be able to be published or to be seen – a lot of her works would not be recognised – if she was a woman.”

“I presented under my Chinese name, Yu-Ling because I wanted people to see the work and not think about me cutting somebody’s head off,” she adds, “I just wanted people to come in with an open mind and to absorb the work for what it was. And not see me before they saw the work. But ultimately… you just have to stand up and be recognised for your work, whether it’s going to be received positively or negatively.”

If there’s something to take away from that, at least she knows! She knows you might think of her as an entitled asshole actor-turned-artist. Which already makes her less of an asshole, if that counts for anything.

More broadly speaking, you can also take Lucy Liu’s art show as a lesson in self-determination, if you want. After all, this is the age where anyone can do anything. The results of this can sometimes be delightful – see Queer Eye star/grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness becoming an adult amateur figure skater. Or it can sometimes be disturbing – see Apprentice star/comb-over expert Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States.

So in short, the answer to the question is that Lucy Liu is an artist. Caaaan. But as to whether that fact delights you or disturbs you… well, that’s up to you.

“Okay, fine. But is it going to be GOOD ART?”

Ohmmm… To this, we would say – you go see for yourself, lah.

Art is art, right? And you could go into ten world-class museums, and see hundreds of works of art, and only find less than five that make you FEEL SOMETHING. Which is the point of art, and should be your personal barometer as to what makes it GOOD ART.

So maybe this Lucy Liu x Shubigi Rao art exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore will make you FEEL SOMETHING. But maybe it won’t. The point is not to see life-altering, perspective-shifting, heart-moving, world-changing art every single time you go to an exhibition. The point is to go. Because how would you experience any life-altering, perspective-shifting, heart-moving, world-changing art, otherwise?

If you want to keep an open mind, you should probably read no further. But if you die-die must have an opinion, then, fine. We offer you a few final things to consider while you make up your mind if you should go or not:

– The nice thing about this particular double-bill is that the two artists are quite well-matched, with neither one really overwhelming the other. Of the two, Lucy’s work comes off more intimate and personal, while Shubigi’s can be described as more intellectual and academic – both approaches have their own appeal. In terms of what there is to see, the mediums are varied, and it’s curated tightly enough so that it doesn’t get repetitive. There’s painting, collage, mixed media… and even things to touch! (Once you sanitise your hands and wear gloves, that is. Still, quite fun.) Overall, unless you are truly determined to be a skeptic, it’s more interesting and less indulgent than you might initially imagine it to be. At the very least, we didn’t leave shaking our heads and muttering under our breath, “Like that also can, meh?”

(For that, we would say, go see the Minimalism show at the National Gallery Singapore. But to be fair, we would also say – if you want to see something that will properly blow your mind, go see the Minimalism show.☻)

– With that said, it’s not a big exhibition, so it won’t take you long to poke around. If you thought you could plan an afternoon around it, mmm… probably not. But on the flip side, it’s not a big time commitment, so you can easily pop in and out if you’re even halfway curious.

– And did we mention… it’s FREE? Yes, it’s free! Which means it’s absolutely value-for-money since you pay none.


Lucy Liu & Shubigi Rao: Unhomed Belongings
When: 12 Jan 2019 – 24 Feb 2019
Where: National Museum of Singapore
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