STPI art basel exhibition asian artists
STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery presents a dynamic artist line-up for Art Basel in Basel 2023, featuring Rirkrit Tiravanija (Thailand/USA), Prabhavathi Meppayil (India), and 3 artists from Singapore who are at the forefront of Singapore’s contemporary art. scene, namely Charles Lim Yi Yong, Genevieve Chua, and Heman Chong, showcasing the exceptional and ground-breaking experimentations in print and papermaking techniques that emerged from their immersive residency programmes at STPI’s Creative Workshop.

STPI’s booth recreates Rirkrit Tiravanija’s latest exhibition We Don’t Recognise What We Don’t See, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist – a culmination of their shared interest and research on extinction. Continuing his collaborative relationship with STPI’s Creative Workshop since 2013, Tiravanija expounds on this theme through his untitled (2020) series (2023), disrupting the narratives of Old Masters’ paintings by removing living creatures and replacing them with extinct animals using solar dust ink visible under ultraviolet light. In Fall 2023, MoMA PS1 will present Rirkrit Tiravanija: A LOT OF PEOPLE, the first US survey and largest exhibition to date dedicated to the artist, with over 100 works.

Realised in the STPI Creative Workshop through vital exchange and keen experimentation, the rigour and innovation of the workshop master team also galvanised the following artists to find new dimensions in their bodies of work.

Art Basel has always been a focal meeting point for STPI and our friends and collectors based in Europe. We look forward to a lively week of sharing our tightly curated selection of works, all of which attest to our artists’ endeavours to engender and convey new ideas, narratives and visual effects that can only come from the brilliant, collaborative minds between the artists and our Creative Workshop.

Emi Eu, Executive Director, STPI

Presenting for the first time, the cu/lp/ series (2021) attests to Prabhavathi Meppayil’s practice that merges artisanal goldsmithing traditions with abstraction. It engages with form and seriality, deliberately reframing these strategies to position herself outside of the Western contemporary art canon. Genevieve Chua’s works are from her recent 2023 solo with STPI, grrrraaanularrrrrrr, curated by Reuben Keehan, Curator for Contemporary Asian Art at QAGOMA. Her latest STPI residency unearthed new material possibilities through fresh techniques and affective qualities of print and papermaking, as seen in the gentle, light intrusions on soft, grainy paper in the Typestracts series (2022). Continuing his vigorous enquiry of Singapore’s relationship with the sea, Charles Lim Yi Yong’s STPI residency focused on experimenting with the manipulation of paper as a sculptural element in the laser-cut SEASTATE 9 : Pulau series (2021), which folds into his critically acclaimed SEA STATE project (2005-ongoing). Heman Chong reveals the socio-political complexities of the world we share through works such as Cover (Versions) (2009-ongoing), an ongoing series of book covers which have become more painterly, incorporating gestures of exaggerated brush strokes and abstracted masses of colour to tears on the canvas surface. Things That Remain Unwritten (2013-ongoing), a later series of paintings that are wholly abstract, is evidence of this evolution.

Earlier this year, STPI participated in Art Basel Hong Kong, ART SG and S.E.A. Focus, furthering its commitment to bringing the best of the distinct and innovative artworks, collaboratively made in print and paper at the STPI Creative Workshop in Singapore, to these international platforms.

About the Artists

Rirkrit Tiravanija

 Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is widely recognised as one of the most influential artists of his generation. His work defies media-based description, as his practice combines traditional object making, public and private performances, teaching, and other forms of public service and social action. Winner of the 2005 Hugo Boss Prize awarded by the Guggenheim Museum, Tiravanija was also awarded the Benesse by the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Japan and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucelia Artist Award.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, untitled 2020 (paradise regained I) (with strong UV light), 2023.
Solar dust screenprint and archival digital print on paper, presented in a copper frame specified by the artist, 125.5 x 170 x 4 cm. © Rirkrit Tiravanija / STPI.
Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

He has had exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum of New York, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hirschhorn Smithsonian, Glenstone Museum, Luma Foundation in Arles and at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam that then was presented in Paris and London. Tiravanija is on the faculty of the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and is a founding member and curator of Utopia Station, a collective project of artists, art historians, and curators. Tiravanija is also President of an educational-ecological project known as The Land Foundation, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he maintains his primary residence and studio.

Charles Lim Yi Yong

 Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Charles Lim Yi Yong (b. 1973, Singapore) studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London, graduating in 2001. Lim’s artistic practice stems from an intimate engagement with both man-made systems and the natural world, mediated and informed by field research and experimentation, drawing, photography and digital video. His epic SEA STATE project, begun in 2005, examines the political and biophysical contours of the nation state through the visible and invisible lenses of the sea.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, SEASTATE 9: Pulau Marinajurongcovebranibaratchangilaudamartekongsebaraokeastsamalunbukom-sentosatuasviewtekongsajahatsenanghantupunggol (detail), 2021.
Laser cut STPI handmade paper, 88.9 x 41.8 x 0.85 cm. © Charles Lim Yi Yong / STPI.
Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Lim’s work has been exhibited widely across Europe and the Asia-Pacific, at documenta 11 (with the collective and Manifesta 7, at biennales in Shanghai, Singapore and Osaka, and more recently in the Biennale of Sydney, Australia, the EVA International in Ireland, the Aichi Triennale in Japan and 2020’s Busan Biennale. In 2015 he represented Singapore at the 56th Venice Biennale. Charles’s short films have also travelled extensively in the film festival circuit, notably his short film All Lines Flow Out won a Special Mention at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, making it the first Singapore film to win an award at the prestigious festival.

Prabhavathi Meppayil

 Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Prabhavathi Meppayil (b. 1965, India) draws from her heritage as the daughter of a goldsmith to sensitively abstract from this tradition, and to engage with the global legacies of Minimalism and Postminimalism. Directly employing tools of the trade—primarily thinnam, a traditional jewellery tool used to incise ornamental patterns on bangles—Meppayil’s markmaking is characterised by a sense of delicate yet laboriously repeated interruption atop a painting surface, predominantly primed with multiple layers of gesso. The renewed use of particular materials invites notions of tradition, craft and modernist abstraction to converge on the same field of play, moving away from post-war reductionist tendencies to secure a strong engagement with historical and geopolitical specificity.

Prabhavathi Meppayil, cu/lp/seventeen, 2021.
Copper wire on embossed STPI handmade paper, 15 x 23 cm. © Prabhavathi Meppayil / STPI. Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Arising somewhere between the precision of artisanal execution and the unpredictability of material condition, Meppayil’s gestural impressions become palpable traces that bear the mark of a temporal dimension. Particularly in works that involve copper wires which undergo her processes of tempering and oxidisation, her compositions capture nuanced transformations and variations over time. Integral to Meppayil’s practice is a concern for the sonic quality inherent in goldsmithing. Apart from the visual repetition in basic geometric forms, the percussive element in the tapping of tools invites another dimensional layer to her work. The engagement with form and process thus invokes the bodily, and unveils the passage of time and its effect on tradition and place.

Genevieve Chua

 Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Genevieve Chua (b. 1984, Singapore) is an artist whose works primarily exist in the realm of abstraction. Using painting, installation and photography, Chua subtly explores structure and process through the visual language of the diagram, palimpsest, syntax and the glitch while simultaneously exploring concepts of tension, including control, resistance and encroachment. As a self- described “near-abstract painter”, Chua’s minimalist leanings echo architectural form by playing with light and shadow. For example, the series Edge Control (2016–present) engages an edge-focused, monochromatic vernacular. In addition, Chua’s print-based works developed at STPI feature graphic effects which generate visually deceptive imagery, like the moiré pattern. These works combine several printmaking techniques, including screenprinting on acrylic and relief printing on paper.

Exhibition installation view at Genevieve Chua: grrrraaanularrrrrrr, 2023, STPI Gallery, Singapore. Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Continuing with themes of tension, Chua’s painting practice acts as a form of resistance against a medium fraught with historical and cultural contradictions. The artist pushes the medium by employing muted, tonal colours, subtle mark-making and custom canvases with edges that jut, bulge and undulate. In doing so, Chua challenges the confines of traditional canvases and the medium of painting as a whole. As a result of these strategies, Chua creates works that inhabit “two-and-a-half dimensions” that shrewdly protrude into the gallery space, gently coercing the artist’s audience to become active participants instead of passive viewers.

Heman Chong

 Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Heman Chong’s (b. 1977, Malaysia, raised in Singapore) cultural work is situated at the intersection between image, performance, situations, and writing. Through intimate interrogation and intervention, Chong investigates the function of everyday infrastructure as a political medium. This conceptual preoccupation is best exhibited in his series Foreign Affairs (2018).

Heman Chong, Thus Spoke Zarathustra / Friedrich Nietzsche, 2012.
Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 46 x 3.8 cm.  © Heman Chong / STPI.
Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore

Foreign Affairs is a series of photographs of embassy backdoors. The systematic repetition of images simultaneously recalls a cinematic frame and the omnipresence of the surveillance camera that watches nothing and everything. Each image of a backdoor can be read as infrastructural. These banal representations are the threshold of the exceptional space of the embassy, which is the physical manifestation of an agreement between two states of individual sovereignty. They implicitly point to society’s natural fears of ‘back door’ agreements, actors invisibly and insidiously pulling the strings behind the veil of the everyday.

Chong’s proclivity for elevating every day is also exhibited in his 2018 series Abstracts From The Straits Times, basing the works on a cache of online, print-ready PDFs creating repetitive, unreadable abstractions from Singapore’s daily newspaper. As a result, Chong comments on the current media landscape policed by the expanded understandings of political correctness, accusations of ‘fake news,’ trials of public opinion, and ‘deep-fake’ technology.

Due to these conceptual preoccupations, Chong’s work remains at the forefront of contemporary art discourse.

About STPI

STPI Gallery fosters the exchange of ideas in contemporary art with its diverse exhibitions and public programme. The gallery hosts specially curated exhibitions of works produced in the STPI Creative Workshop and regularly participates in international art fairs. This enables it to nurture and sustain local and international interest in both its residency artists as well as the mediums of print and paper.

STPI is a creative workshop and contemporary art gallery based in Singapore. Established in 2002, STPI is committed to promoting artistic experimentation in the mediums of print and paper, making it one of the most cutting-edge destinations for contemporary art in Asia. STPI sits alongside National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum as part of the national Visual Arts Cluster of leading institutions in the region.

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