Many local artists have taken the occasion of the SG50 to reflect on the past, present and future of the city-state they call home. Lakshmi Mohanbabu is no exception, and from 2 – 8 November, the established Singaporean artist will present her new exhibition ‘Expressions SG50’ at The Art Space @ Suntec, a series of 20 acrylic paintings musing on the trials and triumphs of the past 50 years.
Singapore’s emergence as an independent state was neither simple nor pain-free. Following the granting of self-rule from the British in 1959 and Singapore’s brief, fraught union with Malaysia, the result was a painful divorce from Malaysia in August 1965. As The Economist puts it, it was with tears, not joy, that Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, announced the island’s independence. Much has been achieved since then, and the island state has become one of the most prosperous nations in the world. But it is a journey that was not easy, with moments ranging from joy to fright, sadness to exhilaration, anger to love. It is this range of emotions, which Singaporeans across diverse communities have expressed while reflecting on their thoughts and hopes for the nation, that Mohanbabu has captured in her current work.
The central theme of ‘Expressions SG50’ is inspired by Chinese opera, which together with Greek tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit opera is one of the oldest dramatic art forms in the world. While its unique melodies may sound strange to unaccustomed ears, the characteristic bold and dramatic make-up has universal appeal. Exaggerated designs are painted on each performer’s face to symbolize the character’s personality, role, and fate. Indeed, familiar audiences can grasp the story simply by observing the facial painting and costumes. Mohanbabu draws inspiration from this classical tradition, while adopting a minimalist modern approach inspired by her background in architecture and fashion design.
Lakshmi Mohanbabu is a Singaporean who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has studied architecture, art, jewellery and fashion design all over the world, in particular in Europe and the Asia Pacific, which has enabled her to incorporate cross-cultural elements in her work, be it painting or jewellery, furniture or shoes. She has also illustrated VHAI (Voluntary Health Association of India) Books / WHO Health Manuals in the field of disability and health and has engaged in much socially conscious work over the past decades.
Exhibition: SG50 Expressions
Dates: 2 – 8 November 2015
Venue: The Arts Space @ Suntec, Suntec City Mall Tower 1, 3 Temasek Boulevard #01-448/449, Singapore 038983
Hours: 10am – 10pm daily