By Surabhi Pandey

I recently attended the opening ceremony of the curated exhibition called Repeat, Repeat, Repeat; revising the phenomenon of printing at The Private Museum. Guest-of-Honour, Mr Seng Yu Jin, Senior Curator of National Gallery Singapore, graced the opening reception. The exhibition opened to the public on 17th May and will continue till 7th July.

From urban culture to the digital age, science to spirituality, robotics to ink, and symbolism to biblical art- the exhibition has a wide range of elements through which artists revisit and redefine the history of printing. 

Helmed by Guest Curator Zaki Razak, this group exhibition is the second edition of TPM Guest Curator Series and features exemplary works of printmaking in different mediums by seven artists, including Miguel Chew, Weixin Chong, Mona Choo, Urich Lau, Nadia Oh, Shin-Young Park and Shih Yun Yeo. 

In this exhibition, artists explore the journey of the process of printing through visual responses in dynamic forms and formations and reflect upon how the printed matter has affected human conditions through symbolic cues. They examine printing eras before and after the invention of the Gutenberg printing machine. With a variety of print presentations on different mediums, artists create abstract art that redefines printing while introducing fresh perspectives in the eyes of the patrons. 

Each display has a story and the ability to make you stop and think, however, some of the pieces had deep symbolic meanings and resonated with me on different levels. 

Lost In Translation: When Life Sounds Like Gibberish

Ephesians 5:22-23 by the award-winning South Korean artist Shin-young Park is a decal print displayed on ceramics of varying sizes and editions. Created with a dual-language keyboard in Korean and English, Ephesians 5:22-23 takes reference from the biblical verses to represent the conflicts in a marriage.

The artist types verses in English while switching the keyboard to Korean, which results in a gibberish mix-mash of random Korean letters. The same happens when she types in English while switching the keyboard to Korean. 

This literal copying of biblical verses using dual-language keyboards produces incomprehensible texts in both languages.

Printed on beautiful ceramic plates of different sizes and editions, this abstract art represents the technical nuances on the art of printing while symbolising the conflicts in a marriage. It can mean two things – first, how redundant the practice of imposing one’s beliefs onto others can be, and second, how when a relationship is plagued by conflicts, life gets lost in translation and starts sounding like gibberish. 

This work of art resonated with me on so many levels reminding me of so many friendships gone stale and so many past relationships that are dead now because they were all lost in translation- it was like we didn’t speak the same language, and whatever we spoke did not make any sense.

A Diptych Of Then And Now

Recently awarded with the President’s Young Talents award, Singaporean artist Weixin Quek Chong’s touchedscreens 2019 is a showstopper for me. This diptych of etchings on cotton paper teases a contrast between contemporary mass communication and traditional forms- that of the manually printed etching. 

This artwork is an impressive representation of ‘then and now’ through window-like pairings that reference the aspirational symbolism of stock imagery. The monotone portrayal of over lit LCD devices etched in manual print editions hint towards the spiritual flavour of transcendence while highlighting the transformation of the technology and our lives. 

What We See Depends On What We Look For

Another winner for me at the exhibition is the creation of Miguel Chew. This Singapore-based artist is known for his conceptual notions of craftsmanship refined by the process of reflection and engagement. Through Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder 1.1, Chew explores the idea of how appearances can be deceiving. 

A silkscreen on laser cut acrylic artwork in variable dimensions, this display uses the jellyfish as a visual metaphor. The artist uses the fact that the jellyfish is visually beautiful, but their stings can be deadly to depict how people often judge others by their outer appearance without investing time and efforts to gauge what is inside.

Black, White And Grey

I was also intrigued by YEO Shih Yun’s Impossibility of repetition series, which involves two printmaking techniques in layers- monoprinting and screen printing on the first layer, and painting by hand along with screen printing on the second layer. Another interesting detail about this artwork is that the screen printing on the first layer has actually been done by tiny robots. In addition, the shadow formed on the glass is ‘grey’ and it shifts shapes depending on the angle of the viewer and the positioning of the light, thus creating a sense of illusion. 

This set of work reflects not only on the radical conflicts between the two colourless colours of black and white but also their interaction as well as interdependence.

Nadia OH’s Affinity, which is a photographic print on fabric, Urich Lau and Mona Choo’s abstract artworks are equally spectacular and add aesthetic as well as conceptual value to the whole set of displays. 

TPM’S Repeat, Repeat, Repeat; revising the phenomenon of printing is a must-visit for art lovers. The Private Museum is located at 51 Waterloo Street #02-06. For more information. Click here.