A while ago, I was discussing about the blogging scene in Singapore with an ex-colleague. We were talking about how topics covered by the conventional blogs are typically composed of topics such as food, night life and fashion. And since I am passionate about the arts (and having worked in that industry for a period albeit brief), I naturally brought out the subject of writing about the arts. My colleague – with every good intention – advised me otherwise. He said “Don’t write about the arts. You will kill your readership. Write about food and lifestyle. Singaporeans love that.”
While I understand what he meant since almost all known Singaporean bloggers made their name through writing about those topics, I just can’t forsake [writing about] the arts. For the purpose of this entry, the term ‘Art’ or ‘The Arts’ will be used interchangeably as creative arts, performing arts, fine arts, literary arts and visual arts, etc, at any given time.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
– Spanish Artist, Pablo Picasso
Not gonna lie, I googled that. Laughs. But how true that statement stands. Yet, the Arts is not for everyone. In a developing third world country where their basic needs of food and shelter are not met, Art is relegated into third, fourth and often last place. I mean, if you don’t even know if there’s food on the table for your children and family tomorrow, you can forget about the Arts. But when society matures, when our basic needs are met, that’s when we can [take active steps to] truly appreciate the Arts as well as the art of living, puns intended. Only a mature society or community is able to truly appreciate Art.
With the introduction of modern film photography, one of the prime objectives of Art as a form of capturing reality and documenting history became obsolete within a short span of time. Instead, the Arts became almost exclusively reserved for creative expression. Rather than capturing history, Art now transcends beyond its interpreted medium far greater than the meeting of human needs. For with Art, a performer or artist can evoke a variety of emotions for reasons not commonly explored. Joy, serenity, peace, sorrow or even anger. Art can be used to remind us to pursue our forgotten dreams and aspirations. Art can be used to challenge cultural, social and political norms and injustice. Art can be used to shed light on environmental issues. Art can be used a medium to rally a nation for a cause. The importance of the Arts and its overarching themes explored and shown to its audience stretches beyond the canvas, performance or sculpture piece.
Singapore enters into her ‘silver years’, hitting the big five-o this August. We have survived the tough initial years of turmoil, having emerged from the rubbles of war as one of the Four Asian Tigers and possibly, the leader of the four. Ours is the rag to riches story written by our pragmatic and relentless statesmen and policymakers. Our Government also understand that while pragmatism has led our country out of survival mode into prosperity, it is time we as a nation understand and appreciate Art like a cultured lady who knows her wine – beyond the rational fact that Arts is a rather unexplored but feasible market. All of our museums are packed with programmes and themed exhibitions the whole year round, our statutory boards, the National Heritage Board and National Arts Council are pushing for the Arts like never before, pumping an unprecedented millions of dollars into the industry every year in a move that would only seem ludicrous just a decade or two ago. Just this month alone, we have the Affordable Art Fair 2015, the Da Vinci exhibition at the ArtScience Museum that runs till May, and the Singapore Yacht Show which for the first time, features an Art auction among its line of programmes catered to the rich and famous.
Our Government is opening our doors to the Arts world. In the recent years, we have seen so many important exhibitions and performances brought into the country. It’s high time Singaporeans get acquainted with Art.
“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke”
– Polish-American Novelist, Jerry Kosinki
One of the most important misconceptions that the lay Singaporean has about the arts is “I don’t understand it” or “Arts is not for me.” But I feel that we all have that innate ability to connect with the underlying themes communicated across the different art forms. Through my observation and interaction with artist friends though, I also discovered that while there are many talented artists and performers out there, many fail to communicate their emotions and aspirations adequately across to their target audiences. I spoke to one of my artist friend, telling him about the times I would leave an exhibition with no idea at all what the artist is trying to convey.
That artist friend told me that “It’s like that in the industry lah! People tend to think that an exhibition they don’t understand is a good exhibition!” It’s saddening because art is so important and even fundamental to our existence. The art of Art appreciation continues to elude our people in terms of its importance and priority. It’s saddening because Art is so important and even fundamental to our existence.
“Like Friendship, Art has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
My personal interpretation from a quote by British Novelist, C.S. Lewis
I did not google for this quote this time. Laughs.
I have decided. I will continue to write about Art. I will continue to use this space to write about art and event listings for all things pertaining to the Singapore arts scene. Art shouldn’t be too ‘chim’ or ‘too confusing’ to understand. Though I have not written for a while, I am really excited to be engaged to write content for an Art Auction Catalog for the Singapore Yacht Show 2015. No prizes for the right guesses who I wrote it for. I believe a good copy is fundamental to the public education and appreciation to the arts. This is especially needed since the Arts industry is severely misunderstood and neglected. We need to create more conversations about the Arts over the media and public sphere so that Singaporeans in general get to benefit from it. So for Arts’ sake, let’s talk about Art.
To a better year for the arts scene,
Writer’s Note: I will be opening my (freelance – I have a day job) services to art galleries, exhibitors and auctioneer. For all copywriting, event listing, media and PR enquiries, kindly email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos from Google. I do not own any of the photos shown here.