COMPILED BY JOEL TAN
Published on 28 April 2015
ONG KIM SENG
Watercolourist Ong Kim Seng is a self-taught artist whose work, painted in a blend of impressionistic and realist styles, has a special affinity with the shifting Singapore cityscape. This featured strongly in his April 2015 solo show, Nostalgia in Transformation. His informal training began in the 1960s with open-air painting exercises at the Singapore River led by Chia Wai Hon, alongside other pioneering artists like Lim Cheng Hoe, Chen Chong Swee and Ong Chye Cho. Between the ’60s and ’80s, he held several full-time jobs while painting on the side. Ong began painting full-time only in 1985 and has since gained impressive commercial success, exhibiting and selling his creations worldwide. His work ‘Bhaktaphur’ was, in 1993, the first Singapore watercolour to receive an auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. Since then, his masterpieces are annually auctioned off and have found their way into the residences of dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II. Ong was conferred the Cultural Medallion for Art in 1990.
O THIAM CHIN
O Thiam Chin is a Singapore writer, best known for his short stories, which have appeared in international literary journals and publications like World Literature Today and The International Literary Quarterly. He has published five collections of short stories to date. His most recent collection, Love, Or Something Like Love (2013), was a nominee for the Singapore Literature Prize, while his 2009 anthology, Never Been Better, was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. His stories are strongly grounded in a Singapore reality, though one seen and told through a prism of diverse perspectives. His work often returns to themes of love, loss and longing. O was awarded the Young Artist Award in 2012.
The Observatory is an experimental art rock band from Singapore. Over its 14-year history, the band has pursued a range of musical styles, including electronica, space rock and avant-garde music. The band, an institution in Singapore’s music scene, has toured Japan, Norway, France and Italy, and has released six albums to date. Each release is stylistically distinct, owing to an evolving line-up over the years. Creatively, this has lent new sounds and influences to the core group comprising Leslie Low, Vivian Wang and Dharma. The band was most recently joined by Cheryl Ong and Yuen Chee Wai for its 2014 album, Oscilla. Since its inception in 2001, The Observatory members have included several notable musicians from Singapore’s underground bands of the 1990s, folks like multidisciplinary artist Bani Haykal and composer Victor Low. Last year, a documentary film about the group, The Obs: A Singapore Story, premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival.