“Art is supposed to be fun. When you visit an art exhibition you should feel welcomed, like you should be there, that it is for your enjoyment, and not to make you feel dumb, or unsophisticated. “
Iskander Walen, artist and managing director of Orange Gallery Singapore, reminded us of what we have seemed to have forgotten in our chase for paper certificates and ‘deeper meanings’ to art. That is — when we actually do make time for art. Art is not always about the story behind it, not always about the end goal. It is about what you like and what speaks to you. It is about plain old fun, the simple pleasures of looking at a piece and reacting to it in the most natural of manners.
Take a look around at Art For The Masses, which has been occupying a vacant unit at Marina Square. You will find art pieces that are surprising, bold, maybe a little in-your-face. But does it matter? You’re supposed to find the joy and how the work might appeal to you, according to Walen, at least. That’s what’s most important.
These are not your typical Renaissance style women or realistic paintings the public often label ‘fine art’. These are pop art; playful, fun and traditionally not associated with art, which many consider a more serious affair. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Times have changed, and so should our perception of what we consider art.
These art pieces are editions or original pieces by artists from all walks of life: Justin Lee, BUNKO, Jason Freeny, Frank Kozik, B-Kawz, just to name a few. Some are created by Singaporean artists (we know, surprise, surprise), like skateboard graffiti decks by TR853-1 (Trase One) from Singaporean street art group RSCLS and a series of limited edition prints by Leo Liu Xuanqi.
The list goes on.
With the support of the mall, Walen hopes to make art more accessible to all. Everyone can and should be able to afford a piece of original artwork to be hung on the wall. That’s one way you make your home truly yours.
You do not have to be an ‘expert’ to appreciate art, nor is it elitist. That is the message Art For The Masses embodies. For as low as S$45, you can take home an original work. You not only support the artist, you directly contribute to the growth of the local arts scene. You help local artists get their much needed big break to gain visibility on the global scene; because based on what we’re observing here, Singaporeans seem almost frightened to walk into a gallery — even if the gallery is literally named Art For The Masses. Curious ‘saunter-ers’ who strolled in as quickly as they walked out told part of the story.
It will take more time for them to warm up to the idea of buying art.
And yet, Walen mentions that sales are not too shabby.
“Many artists struggle because they price their art too high, too quick. For me, making a living as an artist is a privilege. My life’s work is basically indulging in my passion, and if someone is willing to pay even a small amount for a thing that I have created purely for my own satisfaction, I am very grateful. Few are fortunate to make a living pursuing their dreams. ”
Walen’s own canned soup collection is heavily inspired by the works of Andy Warhol. His ‘Uncle Warhol Instant Fame’ painting is but one of his inspired works. Instant fame, made possible by the social media and the idea of ‘instant life’ through our smartphones (no coincidence there’s an ‘Insta’ in Instagram), one where we could play God and invest zero commitment to virtual interactions, is the story behind this series of works, aptly titled, in true Singaporean spirit, CAN!
“The reality we access on our smartphones doesn’t require any commitment — it’s like eating food from a can. Open the can and it’s ready for you to eat, there is no commitment at all. But actual reality, real life, is like cooking food. You’ve got to clean and cut the ingredients up, cook, wash the dishes and the resulting meal might not even taste the way you’d hoped. Real life is work and commitment, and the reality we escape to on our smartphones isn’t.”
However, even without assimilating the backstory behind each piece, you cannot help but admire the bold colours and the humour behind the collection of life-sized canned soup. Very much tongue-in-cheek, the story and the process merely adds another dimension to what is already so enrapturing.
Art For The Masses will remain open for the final week till the 20th of April. So, if you are looking for some humour, fun, and a streak of rebellion, why not head down and maybe bag something home?