New exhibition showcases traditional crafts in modern ways

SINGAPORE - Neo Folk showcases the works of more than 20 artists in Asia who have re-defined traditional crafts in modern ways. The exhibition, co-curated by Kult Magazine, Clear Edition Gallery Tokyo and Paris-based curator Damien Brachet, examines how one reworks heritage to forge a new identity.

Some of the pieces among the more than 50 artworks are a hybrid of modern styles and religious or cultural myths, others double as socio-political commentaries.

Where: Ikkan Art International, 39 Keppel Road, 01-05, Artspace @ Helutrans, Tanjong Pagar Distripark

MRT: Tanjong Pagar

When: Till March 1, noon - 7pm (Tue - Sat), closed on Sun, Mon & public holidays

Admission: Free

Tel: 6681-6490 Info:


By Kristal Melson, acrylic and enamel on wood, 65x115x75cm

Singaporean artist Melson repainted a chair that she found, which is used in Taoist religious rituals, with pop art colours. She has, however, retained the colour of the parts that were gold, traditionally seen on such chairs. The work is meant to depict the transfer of energy as souls pass through different realms. Yet, no one location is permanent. Melson, 30, reminds us that the position one takes in life is dependent on one's situation and is transitory.


By Rudy Atjeh, papercut, 6x6m, variable dimensions

These paper animals, such as snakes and birds, are metaphors for someone wandering towards self-enlightenment, as in many of Indonesian artist Atjeh's works. In one of these works, in the shape of a human palm, he has cut the sentence "No matter what your palm says, your destiny is in your hands". The artist trained in Yogyakarta and his works often reflect the narrative of a struggling artist trying to survive in the jungle of art.


By Mojoko, video, 33x40x5.5cm

This video features an image of Guan Gong, the Chinese god who represents loyalty and righteousness. The words "Big brother is watching you" appear suddenly and sinisterly onscreen, alluding to the unstable nature of state control, flipping between protection and menace. Mojoko is the name of Iran-born, Hong Kong-bred and Singapore-based creative director Steve Lawler when he works on his guerilla exhibitions, sculptures and fashion projects.

4 YOUGAN-KI, 2013

By Riyoo Kim, ceramic, 20x25x20cm

The humanlike eyes on many of this JapaneseKorean artist's pieces bring out the idea of voyeurism, making the viewer feel watched and judged, as though he has been caught looking too closely at forbidden material. Osaka-born Kim, 33, graduated with a master's in fine arts from the Osaka University of Arts and now works mostly with ceramics.

5 LIMBO, 2013

By Dawn Ang, pencil on paper, 44.5x150cm

The Singaporean artist, trained in fine arts at the Lasalle College of the Arts, produces artworks inspired by memories of when she was younger. In this work, elements representing Chinese religions can be spotted, such as joss paper, joss sticks and candles. The myriad bodies are reminiscent of Taoism's 18 levels of hell, and the hands pointing upwards could be reaching for salvation. Ang, 26, recently exhibited charcoal-on-paper drawings, based on Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express, in a group show at Kult Gallery on Emily Hill.


By Chen Hangfeng, dyed wool and cotton, 200x200cm

Chen uses traditional Chinese weaving techniques to weave a carpet upon which corporate logos have replaced ancient symbols of fortune - a reflection of rapid socio-economic changes in China. The Shanghai-born artist, 39, has had his work exhibited in Beijing's private Today Art Museum, Cartwright Hall art gallery in Bradford, England, and the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh.


By Chen Hangfeng, DVD, single-channel video projection, colour, 4:3, 44x33x33cm

This video, which shows people standing behind the artist and lifting their arms, references the Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva, whose arms allow her to reach out to those in need. The hands hold random objects made in China but bought from a supermarket in Luxembourg for almost 10 times the price in China - a critique of capitalism.

8 YAOYOROZ 2009, 2009

By Hideyuki Katsumata, acrylic and ink on paper, 54.7x39.4cm

Yaoyoroz refers to "eight million spirits" from the Japanese Shinto faith. Katsumata depicts myths and folk tales here, but in the style of pop art with bright colours. The artist has illustrated covers for CDs and vinyl records, as well as animated music clips.

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