With the growth of multi-media art and an increasing move away from studio production practices, it’s heartening to see two galleries turning the spotlight back on drawing – a medium that’s too often relegated to a secondary genre in today’s conceptual environment.
Ng Eng Teng, Utterly Art

Utterly Art is currently featuring a solo exhibition of drawings and sculptures by Ng Eng Teng, the “Grandfather of Singapore Sculpture”. The show tracks Ng’s evolving styles from the 60s and 70s in his sculptures, and culminates in a collection of his life drawings done in the 90s. It was the works from Ng’s life drawing sessions with Group 90 that formed the inspiration for his playfully surreal Torso-to-Face series. According to Ng,

“I have benefited from it in that it has given me a new theme – the Torso-to-Face series – which came about from doing life drawings. Of course, I wasn’t consciously expecting this to happen when I first got back to life drawing. But at each session I see an image of the face looking at me from the body, and this impression gets more intense each time.”

Upon closer observation, one notices the surety of details such as the definite curve of a collar bone or the bridge of a nose. Ng’s use of colour and line in the drawings are buoyant, but they are weaved together to lend a sense of weight to his figures.

Intimately cropped, Ng’s drawings pay more attention to the human body than they do the subjects’ heads, depicting facial expressions in a more cursory and casual manner. They are more inviting as a result – Ng’s final compositions are sensual not for any overt sexuality, but rather from the lush sweeps of delicate colour-pencil strokes that beckon the viewer to follow the movement of the artist’s line across form in two dimensions.

Amy Lin, "Survival 2.0"

Over at Instinc, the exhibition “Survival 2.0” showcased the work of Amy Lin as part of her residency with the gallery. Lin’s work has a strong conceptual bent, working with ideas of evolutionary biology, social dynamics, and cultural diffusion. While Lin says that she works intuitively, she also shows consummate control over the execution of her drawings which look like they could have been digitally printed. This duality of Lin’s creative stream-of-consciousness and subconscious forethought emerges visually in her work, with the dots taking on their own pictorial logic, but one that’s only subtly apparent upon closer inspection.

A patient viewer will find his or her mind being drawn in two opposing directions when looking at Lin’s work. Up close, the eye gravitates towards intimate clusters of dots that hint at the (now) invisible hand that created them; as whole compositions, the narrative of Lin’s drawings extend far beyond the page, hinting at ‘cells’ that were culled from the final image, as well as evoking other possible extrapolations of pattern.

Amy Lin, "Survival 2.0"

“Survival 2.0” also featured Lin’s first ever site specific installation (though Lin is no stranger to working outside her preferred medium of drawing). Walking into the space, one’s unexpectedly greeted by an criss-crossing of gauzy panels. Each draped formation is like a choreographed stroke of colour in space, coming together in an immersive gestural environment.

The sense of experimentation that pervades Lin’s work bodes well for Instinc’s residency programme, showing discernment in the gallery’s choice of artists, as well as a physical and conceptual space that’s conducive for the growth in a young artist’s practice.

These two exhibitions push the genre of drawing to the forefront, being more than ancillary (and even integral) to an artist’s main practice. If anything, the immediacy of image that accompanies drawing (in whatever medium) allows for an openness and spontaneity in idea-formation, evident in the work of Ng and Lin.

Ng Eng Teng’s will be on show until 8 April at Utterly Art’s new gallery premises located at 20B Mosque Street (Level 3). The gallery is usually open by appointment from Monday to Saturday till 8pm, and on Sunday from 12pm to 5.30pm. (The gallery will be closed on 6th April for Good Friday). For more information, visit their website at www.utterlyart.com.sg, or call Keng Hock at 6226 2605 or 9487 2006

Amy Lin’s “Survival 2.0” has just finished its weekend but, but you may visit her website at www.amylinart.com. For more information about Instinc Gallery, please visit www.instinc.com.