Shop Not, Want Not

23 april 2012 / art / words adele chong

01 Kids These Days, a work by self-taught Singaporean graffiti artist, TR853-1; 02 More Maneki Neko More, an oil painting by Singapore-based artist Aiman; 03 Cage Bag by Astari, Painted copper, 110cm x 60cm, 2011; 43 Fifth Age by Han Yajuan, Oil on canvas, 90 x 90cm; 05 Justin Lee's 2012 Happy Meal Series incorporates Chinese papercut motifs; 06 The Fall of Saigon, a painting by Vietnamese artist Pham Huy Thong depicts babies vying for a better life atop a mountain of money; 07 Guilt Trip #1 by Astari, Mixed media, Oil on canvas, 88cm x 127cm, 2009


As big-name premium brands from the West clamber eastwards in response to unfaltering demand for luxury designer goods, consumerism remains as prevalent as ever in Asian cities.

The upcoming Singapore exhibition, Buy Bye showcases five compelling Asian artists whose respective artworks directly address the one-dimensional ideals often perpetuated by mass consumerism – more specifically, the show pivots on the idea of brandishing upmarket objects as a symbol of one’s societal standing.

Curated by Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, a journalist and regular contributor to the Daily Beast who has authored numerous pieces on art and lifestyle, Buy Bye’s thematic impetus notably draws much from the dynamic of the Pop Art movement spearheaded by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein back in the ’60s. Harking back to Warhol’s signature sensibility of replicating the logos and brand visuals of everyday products and reintroducing the reworked imagery to art audiences with a tongue-in-cheek twist, Buy Bye builds on such sentiments from a distinctly Asian perspective: Astari, an Indonesian artist, presents paintings and sculptures that satirize the unjustified importance that society places on luxury goods by ironically pairing the imagery of ubiquitous branded items with that of traditional cultural elements whilein Chinese artist Han Yajuan’s BlingBling series, materialism is literally presented as a gilded trap – boxed inside a narrow wardrobe laden with finery, cartoony city girls are content to be exempted from the outside world.

Our growing regard of material objects as a vital form of sustenance is indicated in Singaporean artist Aiman’s poetic sculpture, Catch of the Day which depicts shoes and handbags as the coveted prize at the end of a fisherman’s Louis Vuitton hook. Poised as a timely critique of Asia’s widespread mega-mall culture, Buy Bye aims to offers viewers a moment of respite from the blinding sparkle of designer-ware as well as breathing space to reevaluate personal and collective values.

The group exhibition is scheduled to open on April 26 in conjunction with the launch of Vue Privée’s new gallery at Spottiswoode Park.Other artists in the show include Pham Huy Thong from Vietnam and Singaporeans Justin Lee and Tr358-1.

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