I went to National Gallery Singapore on the first day of Chinese New Year (28/1/17) during the gallery’s Open House. It was my first time there so it was a bit disorientating at first, but there were friendly staffs around who pointed to me where Iskandar Jalil’s exhibition is located.

It was located in the basement inside one of the room. While the room itself is big, but given the amount of artworks, it felt rather cluttered. Below are some photos that I have taken which I thought are works that I found interesting but not what I decided to pick for the assignment (click on the image to enlarge it):

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The one I decided to pick for the assignment though, is this:


[Not Titled]
(Sculptural Work with Seated Figures)
Undated, Stoneware

“Iskandar’s characteristic use of simple rounded forms may be attributed to his adherence to the Japanese notion of shibui, an aesthetic in which subtle beauty is prized above excessive ornamentation. In this work, Iskandar also experiments with the representation of reality. The spherical form indicates the earth itself, alluding to the human traditions in the broadest sense. The figures seated atop seem to grasp newspapers, apparently keeping themselves informed of events developing underfoot.”

I find this work rather captivating given its simple form and choice of color, along with little figures that makes you go “hey, what is that?”. It is a sculpture that predominating red, which hints of grey-ish green littered all around the artwork. Given we are not allowed to touch the work, going by just visual alone, it appears to have a combination of smooth and rough texture. The surface is also reflective. The sculpture also have a small foot beneath it, which allow it to stand in a stable manner.

The most interesting thing about this work is perhaps the four faceless human-like figures sitting above the sculpture. Some of them also even appeared to be reading a scroll-like object. I particularly enjoyed viewing this work as you can see different figures based on where you are standing. Sadly, as this work is placed against the wall, I was not able to see how the figure behind looked like.

In relation to the concept of Wabi-Sabi, this work give me a sense of perfect-imperfect polish. The red used is not flashy but instead more similar to the color the red mud, perhaps as a representation to Earth. There are clear bumps on the surface and grey-ish green spots does not appear to be intentional. The edge of the scroll-like objects are also not smoothed out, but rather left with even edges. Yet it is this imperfection that make this work much more interest to look at and study.