ABC Guide H

Published on 19 January 2015

COMPILED BY JOEL TAN

HOKKIEN HUAY KUAN

The Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan is a cultural and educational foundation set up in 1840 to preserve Chinese language and culture in Singapore and around the region. In 1987 the foundation opened its Arts and Cultural Troupe, providing arts education to children. It began by offering Singapore’s first Mandarin speech and drama classes. In following years, it opened the Children Performance Troupe to offer training and performance opportunities in Chinese dance and theatre. Today, the foundation houses three performing troupes: a children’s performing troupe, a youth performing troupe and a dance troupe. It has a network of about 2,000 students studying a variety of subjects including Chinese languages, calligraphy and other traditional Chinese arts.

 (Illustration Jimmy Lee)

DAMIEN HIRST

Damien Hirst has become synonymous with a polarising brand of Modern Art that art lovers either hail as subversive and innovative or flashy and ultimately, meaningless. The English artist and art collector gained recognition in the 1990s together with other visual artists who, collectively, were dubbed the Young British Artists. The group was notorious for their brash lifestyles, bold innovative work and neo-Bohemianism, although Hirst himself is reportedly one of the United Kingdom’s richest artists.

A great deal of Hirst’s work is preoccupied with death and mortality — he is particularly famous for his series of conceptual artworks that use preserved animal carcasses as material. His controversial break-out piece, Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), is a minimalistic work that features a dead tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde. It has since become a symbol of Modern British art worldwide and the target of heated arguments about what constitutes art. Recent works include For the Love of God (2007), a celebrated diamond-studded skull, a platinum cast of an actual 18th-century specimen.

HAN SAI POR

You’ve very likely seen Singaporean sculptor Han Sai Por’s work about town. Granite and marble are hewn into larger-than-life organic shapes — seeds, fruits and other embodiments of what Han describes as sculpture bursting with a life force of its own. A recipient of the 1995 Cultural Medallion for Art, Han is a celebrated sculptor whose work has travelled the globe. Crafting with organic materials like stone and wood, her creations have a strong focus on Man’s deep entrenchment in the natural world.

A graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, the Wolverhampton College of Art and Lincoln University, Han has been a full-time artist since 1997. She was the founding president of Singapore’s Sculpture Society and remains an honorary member. Her famous ‘Seed Series’ (1998) and ‘Seeds’ (2006) can be seen on the grounds of The Esplanade and the National Museum of Singapore respectively.

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