When local artist Eric Foenander was commissioned by art gallery Kult to create an artwork out of an old Chinese vinyl record cover, he was stumped.
"It was sitting there in my office, and I was wondering what I should do with it," says the creative manager at Butter Factory, who tried to research the album but found nothing. "A human resources woman, who's about 60, came by and she said 'I know this album, it was my favourite'."
He found out from her that the cover had to do with memories: the cover says Yi Nan Wang, the theme song of a 1966 Taiwanese movie of the same title. Using acrylic paint, he transformed the illustration of Taiwanese actress Ai Li into Chun-Li from Street Fighter 2, and added other characters from pop culture such as Lo Pan from Big Trouble In Little China.
"I decided to do all these stereotypical Asian characters from movies and TV shows I grew up on, since it was on memories," says Foenander, 30.
Titled From 83' Til Infinity, his work is among 34 works by local and international artists in an exhibition, Chinatown Vinyl Squad, which is currently running, at Zui Hong Lou bar in Ann Siang Hill. The piece has already been sold for $450 in a pre- opening sale online for Kult's VIP customers, but members of the public can buy the other works online from Sunday.
For the exhibition, Kult - also a multi- disciplinary design studio and publisher - invited artists to create new works of art out of vinyl record covers from the 1970s and 1980s. These 12-inch covers include singles from singers such as the Ming Zhu Sisters, Bao Na Na and Bai Bing.
Curator Steve Lawler says that the idea for this exhibition started when they were working on the latest issue of Kult magazine, titled Memory, for which local artists were given photographs of Singapore's past to reinterpret them.
"We felt there was such a richness of material that is forgotten in junk stores and vintage stores," says the 36-year old creative director. "We are celebrating the medium of vinyl and reminding people that digital music is not the full story."
Featured artists include SBTG and Reptiliaphobia from Singapore, Russell Taysom from Britain and Ryan Ady Putra from Indonesia.
Lawler, who also contributed a work to the show under the moniker Mojoko, says the artists were selected for their ability to work with traditional, analogue techniques. Their contemporary styles also created a contrast with the existing cover art.
The record covers were bought from Past Image at Excelsior Shopping Centre and "were not costly", says Lawler. The artists' madeover framed works are priced from $200 to $1,000.
Artist Dawn Ang chose to work on a cover that was monochromatic, as black-and-white is her preferred style. The 27-year-old freelance illustrator was also baffled by her cover, which bore the image of a chopper-wielding woman next to another woman holding a fish on a chopping board. The cover is labelled Love Song Of Twins, which is also the title of a 1968 Hong Kong film.
"It's so weird and it doesn't make sense at all," she says with a laugh.
The two women on the cover reminded Ang of the Chinese legend Bai She Zhuan, or Madam White Snake. Ang decided to go along with the story and created a landscape of mountains, with a serpent between the two women, using pen on paper and papercuts.
Her work titled Bai She Zhuan is selling for $650.
Graphic designer Adeline Tan picked a cover showing mirror images of a pole- dancing woman, belonging to the album Lover, You're So Silly by Bai Bing.
Tan painted over the women to turn them into a furry, yellow character, which she says is her imaginary friend, Yellow. Her work titled Let's Dance is priced at $320.
Says Tan, 30: "I thought it would be funny if Yellow were dancing with himself. He is his own favourite person - and partner."
CHINATOWN VINYL SQUAD
Where: Zui Hong Lou, 8 Ann Siang Hill
When: Until April 29. Noon to 1am, Mondays to Saturdays, 5pm to 1am
Info: Go to Facebook and search "Chinatown Vinyl Squad" for event page
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