The Singapore Art Museum presents the President’s Young Talents 2015 exhibition, featuring five artists – Ang Song Ming, Bani Haykal, Ezzam Rahman, Loo Zihan and Ong Kian Peng. Representing some of the most exciting strands in contemporary Singapore art, they will create works spanning the disciplines of performance, new media, sculpture and sound.!These works have been developed under the guidance of their mentors, Ian Woo, Noor Effendy Ibrahim, Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, Vincent Leow and SAM curator Louis Ho.

Started in 2001 by SAM, the President’s Young Talents is Singapore’s only mentoring and commissioning exhibition. It recognises and supports promising young artists whose practices chart new dimensions in contemporary art. Selected by local art professionals, the award is based on the depth of the artists’ practice, their potential for growth, and the contributions they would potentially make to the field of contemporary art.

“The diverse concepts and mediums presented in the President’s Young Talents exhibition reflect the depth and rigour of contemporary art by our young Singaporean artists. SAM is committed to being the generative and catalytic support for creative multi- and inter-disciplinary work that is so much at the core of Singapore’s contemporary art practice. In the milestone year of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the President’s Young Talents exhibition recognises and celebrates the nation’s ever-evolving spirit of artistic creation and innovation,” says Dr Susie Lingham, Director, Singapore Art Museum.

Commissioned artworks

The commissioned works by the five finalists are diverse in their presentation of artistic concepts and practices. The works range from the introspective, to those which address larger socio-political issues.


Days is a multi-part study of the mundane, presenting image, sound and text in various formats. As with most of Ang Song Ming’s works, they employ music as a subject matter from which other concerns are highlighted. “Song Ming’s work Days is a clinical DIY bliss. It’s an autobiographical document of a road trip, which marries the unadulterated sentiment of home and modern art,” says Ian Woo, his mentor.

Bani Haykal’s necropolis for those without sleep reflects on the systems of power and the complex networks of these powers at play. The chief component of the work is a game of chess played by two mechanical arms, in which the pieces of one team has been rigged to disadvantage it significantly. On Bani’s art practice and process, mentor Noor Effendy Ibrahim says, “Two things that I truly admire and envy at the same time of Bani’s art practice are his courage and thirst for adventure in seeking knowledge, and his commitment to rigour and fact.”

Ezzam Rahman explores the sense of self and materiality in Here’s who I am, I am what you see and Allow me to introduce myself, two installations that provoke through the use of unconventional materials such as talcum powder and the artist’s own skin. One of the works, Allow me to introduce myself, is performative in nature. The works emphasize, in ways both subtle and fleeting, the materiality of the artist’s body. “Looking at Ezzam’s work is like watching an explosion happen before you, you cannot help but stare and study the sight even with the realisation that you will be consumed in its path,“ says Twardzik Ching Chor Leng who mentored Ezzam through his artistic process.

Of Public Interest: The Singapore Art Museum Resource Room by Loo Zihan is the artist’s recreation of a public reference library. Working with approximately 5,000 books from the resource room from SAM as his material, Zihan highlights oblique relationships among the books in the collection and critically reflects on the role of the art museum as a centre for imparting knowledge. SAM curator Louis Ho explains, “What is particularly distinctive about Zihan’s installation is its focus on knowledge and the archive, on the way that these shape the memories, and embody the identity, of large, public institutions.”

Too Far, Too Near by Ong Kian Peng explores how our urban environment is disconnected from the reality of climate change. A two-part installation, Too Far, Too Near takes viewers on an immersive experience of a haunting landscape, the footage for which was shot by the artist in Greenland. Beyond the work itself, mentor Vincent Leow notes, “Kian Peng‘s practice also stands out for me as he expressed a deep commitment to his art form that explores new technologies and also a deep passion to promote artists working in similar medium as him in the art scene”

Curatorial Mentorship

Essential to the President’s Young Talents exhibition and commission process is the curatorial mentorship. Artists were each paired with a member of the curatorial team who, with their knowledge, experience and involvement in the arts, mentored and guided the artists as they developed and executed their projects, and helped fine-tune their final artworks.

Commissioning Award and People’s Choice Award

In continuing with the commitment to support promising, up and coming artists in their artistic journey, the President’s Young Talents (PYT) commissioned artworks will be evaluated by the curatorial committee, and one artist will be awarded a prize of $20,000. The PYT award is to be put to the creation of a new work or an artist residency to further develop their practice.

President’s Young Talents will also introduce a People’s Choice Award for this edition, giving visitors the opportunity to select an artist and artwork of their choice based on the same set of criteria used by the curatorial committee. Public voting will take place on site. The People’s Choice winner will be awarded a cash prize of $5,000.

The President’s Young Talents exhibition will be on from 21 August 2015 to 27 March 2016. The award ceremony and announcement will be held on 21 October 2015. The exhibition will be accompanied by programmes for the public that includes artist talks and curator tours.

More details about President’s Young Talents can be found online at