If you took in the art fair and gallery opening circuit that’s been setting Singapore alight this past few weeks, you may have noticed work by one of Singapore’s well established artists, William Sim. (Who works under the name ‘Happiness Private Limited’).

"Lionheart -The Chase", by William Sim and Lush Tan

His gallery Utterly Art tells me that “tripping into the dark expanse of a bewitched garden by night, Happiness Private Limited, in its sixth instalment draws us deep into a nocturnal daydream. A psychedelia that dreams to life critter lanterns and brilliant floral hedges in pools of prismatic moonlight.”

Intrigued by the popularity ad reputation of this artist, I decided to talk to William himself to delve into the mind of the artist behind Happiness Private Limited, and his latest showcase The Whispers of The Nightshade.

"C - Lighting the Way", by William Sim

Nicola Anthony: Your colourful paintings are a blend of nature and mechanical objects. What is the inspiration behind your new works?

William Sim: The inclusion of mechanical objects within natural forms is a visual exploration of two contrasting but inseparable aspects of life on earth. Man and man-made objects are inseparable since time immemorial. In The Whispers of The Nightshade, I am particularly interested in the aura that living creatures radiate. Lantern-like, the creatures are aglow with a light that emanates from within and they illuminate the surroundings with their glory. If the Garden of Perennial Delights from last year’s exhibition is day, Whispers of The Nightshade is day turning into night. It is imbued with an overall nocturnal feel.

"Lionheart - Lures", by William Sim and Lush Tan

“tripping into the dark expanse of a bewitched garden by night, Happiness Private Limited, in its sixth instalment draws us deep into a nocturnal daydream. A psychedelia that dreams to life critter lanterns and brilliant floral hedges in pools of prismatic moonlight. – Utterly Art”



Nicola Anthony:  What mediums do you like to use, (and were some of these new and experimental for Whispers of the Nightshade?)

William Sim: I paint primarily in watercolour and acrylic. But for this series of work, I employ solely watercolour for the paintings. The sculptures however were painted in acrylic. I think it is important to exploit the right medium for the right visual expression. Rather than experimenting with mediums, I am more keen on experimenting with techniques and I constantly try to challenge myself on that.

Nicola Anthony:  The sculptures showcased during the exhibition were collaborative artworks, with artist Lush Tan creating the sculptural forms and you painting the designs and characterful depictions. It is always exciting to see artists collaborating and we’d love to find out more – Did these pieces challenge your practice, teach you anything new or take any unexpected turns?

William Sim: This is the fourth year of collaboration on the sculptures and I have greatly enjoyed the process. Lush planned for the sculptures to be painted in stages, so the sculptures were literally painted as they were sculpted. The technique has impact on the colours, as the hues changes during the firing phases. Rather than correcting the colours I have learnt to exploit the incidental alteration of the tones instead. Though the process might seem disparate with Lush working his narratives into the sculptures and myself focusing on tinting and patterning, the process is actually more connected than it seemed as we share very similar visual vocabulary and work together very intuitively.

Nicola Anthony:  Tell us about the symbols and recurring icons in your dreamscape-like works.

William Sim: The dreamscapes are like a mental landfill, composed from fragments of my unconscious mind. A manifestation of my hopes and fears on a conscious front. The character that appears in isolation at times in the paintings is a symbolism of my introversion. The flying machines and floating islands came about because of my fear of heights and the need for freedom. I compose my paintings by freely associating visions, thoughts and ideas so the paintings evolved very organically.

Nicola Anthony:  What new directions or projects are coming up for you after Whispers of the Nightshade?

William Sim: The reason why the exhibitions are all under the Happiness Private Limited label is because each new series of work produced spawns the next and they are just like one long journey with each destination inspiring the next.  Which direction it will head can always be gleaned from the present series of work. Make a guess?

William Sim’s work can be found at Utterly Art, 20b Mosque Street, Singapore

Images courtesy of the artists. Sculptures by Lush Tan and William Sim, watercolours by William Sim.