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Established as one of the highest accolades for contemporary visual art in Asia Pacific, the 2nd  Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation’s Signature Art competition was held in 2011 and works of the top 15 finalists are on display at the Singapore Art Museum until March 4th, 2012.  The triennial prize was established in 2008 to recognize groundbreaking contemporary art. The 2011 competition involved 130 works from 24 countries in the region, and notably included a mix of upstarts and established artists. The finalists’ exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum captivates by its diversity, and the boldness and wit of the represented works.

In perhaps archetypical Japanese restraint, Aida Makoto constructs a scathing observation of Japanese corporate life within the framework of an otherwise pleasing, flowing landscape. His huge 3m x 7m ‘Ash Mountains’ toys with traditional oriental landscape painting to express the poignancy of urban corporate life in Japan.   From afar, the mountains appear just as misty waves. On close-up, the details reveal the heaps of white collar salarymen in business suits entangled with the mundane anchors of daily office life- wires, desktops, computer units.

Vandy Rattana’s ‘Bomb Ponds’ revisits Cambodia’s plight during the Vietnam War through a unique geographical angle.   In the carpet-bombing against Communist sympathizers in the countryside, American warplanes left their mark in the form of countless craters in the fields. Over the years, many of these craters gradually became ponds- now lush, thriving with life, even beautiful. For the casual visitor, the ponds appear almost natural. His video commentary documents the enduring psychological scars of individuals affected by the war, juxtaposed against the natural landscape that has outwardly healed over time, with bomb craters now merely tranquil ponds.

Michael Lee’s ‘Second hand City’ boldly envisions future scenarios, technologies and possibilities in urban conservation and transformation. If we were freed from the limitations of present day civil engineering, if physical properties of concrete were radically different, what would be possible? The imaginative series pushes the boundaries of ‘what might be’ in constantly changing Singapore.

Bui Cong Khanh’s interactive piece, ‘The Past Moved’ recreates an old Vietnamese street corner and invites the viewer to enter the scene. The resulting portraits form a study in contrasts and the passage of time- we of ‘today’s world’ against a backdrop that is both familiar yet distant.

For more on the Singapore Art Museum and its many exhibitions, including this one, check out the museum’s events page.

Singapore Art Museum [Map]
71 Bras Basah Road    Singapore Art Museum, Singapore 189555
6332 3222

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 asia, contemporary art

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