So You Think Art Is a Luxury? The Affordable Pop Art Exhibition Challenges The Stereotype

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?

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