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Interview With Artists[1]

Interview With Artists[1]

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Published by: sints0709 on Aug 27, 2009
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Artist Residency and Exchange Programme
(9 to 30 May 2008)
The Artist Residency and Exchange Programme (REAP) was organised by Artesan Pte Ltd withthe aim of providing interaction opportunities for young artists from different nationalities andcultures. Six artists – Iggy Rodriguez, Buen Calubayan and Ivan Roxas from Philippines andJoshua Yang, Jeremy Sharma and Chun Kai Feng from Singapore – led by Emmanuel Garibay(Philippines) participated in this exchange.Facilitated by NUS Centre For the Arts, the Singapore section of the residency took place at NUSCFA Studio. Project leader Emmanuel (Mani) and two artists, Ivan and Jeremy, share theirimpressions.
With this rather diverse group of artists and most of them meeting each other for the firsttime, what were the challenges encountered?
Mani: One of the first things we had to do was establish harmony by developing awarenessamongst the artists of each other’s styles. Artists generally welcome the opportunity to create anddifferences in cultures can have the aspect of enriching them. The challenges were more externalsuch as working with available studio space and optimizing interaction in view of the workcommitments of the Singapore artists.From left: Jeremy Sharma, Buen Calubayan and Emmanuel GaribayJeremy: Some adaptation was required. We had envisaged a more free-flowing programme anddid not anticipate such a large amount of interaction time where all artists were encouraged towork in the same space and participate in the site/gallery visits set out in the itinerary. For anartist, personal space is important and when we are all cramped together, things can get edgy.Ivan: I normally work overnight but studio time for the residency was in the day so sometimes Icould not paint because of tiredness and the heat, but we still pushed on due to the short time.Sometimes, paintings need to be viewed from afar to get a better feel but it was not alwayspossible because of the limited space.
What was the process like for this residency?
Mani: Ideally, it would be to experience Singapore and respond to various contexts. Realistically,though, three weeks is not sufficient for such an engagement and this was also not specifically
laid down as a requirement. So we did not set any pre-conditions and instead encouraged artiststo explore some ideas in the course of the residency.Jeremy: It will be better if at the onset, clearer objectives, some kind of structure and theexpected end results were laid out. [As we did not know what to expect] It was quite stressfulbecause of the time constraints.
What inspired the mural?
Mani: The Filipino artists used the bus regularly to travel to the studio and other places. This gaveus a chance to observe Singapore. Many Singaporeans also take the bus so we used it as ametaphor for a common experience shared by both the Filipino and local artists.We did not delineate spaces on the canvas for each artist or pre-define what to paint. Eachperson was free to find his own blank space or work over what someone else had painted. Theunifying theme was the bus. This free flowing structure can be interesting in adding differentdimensions to an artwork, but it also has the danger of losing visual coherence because eachartist exercises an independent visual judgement of what to put in.Iggy Rodriguez (centre) and Ivan Roxas (right) working on the muralIvan: I painted the two faces on the lower right corner of the mural. There are trees growingaround the faces and there are mynahs - I’m a nature lover and when I think about Singapore, Ithink about all the trees and nature here. When I came to Singapore the last time [in 2001], therewere many crows but this time, I noticed more mynahsJeremy: I didn’t see so much of the bus on the mural but noticed that the images done by theothers were already very strong and rich. I didn’t want to add more figures and used text instead.The texts do not describe anything, they are used to illustrate the idea of ‘thoughts’. I’m interestedin paintings that are open to interpretations.
How has the group benefited from the residency?
Jeremy: The conditions took us out of our comfort zone to learn new things. Participating in aresidency is good experience wherever you go because learning about culture is important for art.It opens our eyes and helps in our outlook.Ivan: We needed to respect other points of view, look at body language and also test the water toassess what the other person may be thinking. We had to be considerate and anticipate thespace to leave for other artists based on what we know about them. As we did not see everyone

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