School of Thought

Published on 26 July 2017

Photo: Andrea Benedetti

Artist Jeremy Sharma, the first Singaporean to hold a solo exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf, shares his inspiration for Spectrum Version 2.2.

By Melanie Lee

Jeremy Sharma is a deep thinker, and he hopes his art will, in turn, help others to ponder upon their lives.

“I’m attracted to open-ended art that slows one down to stop, think and fill in the blanks. The more you stay open to it, the more it will unfold,” explains the 39-year-old artist who enjoys contemplating the process of making, form, materiality and perception. Lately, in preparation for his solo exhibition at the Singapore branch of established Australian gallery Sullivan + Strumpf, he’s also been considering memories and fiction (stories) and how they are perceived in a certain time and place.

“The exhibition will feature two sculptural, multimedia installations along with a few wall works. It will all be very sensorial and atmospheric. For one of the installations, I’m bringing in video excerpts from a 24-hour fishing trip in Malaysia and converting it to a light installation with audio. I thought it would be interesting to bridge the natural with the artificial and what it means to bring memory to a mediated form.”

All these might seem rather abstract, but to Sharma, it’s about following his gut feeling as an artist. This is perhaps why, in his 14-year career, he has worked across a variety of media — from oil painting to foam to lights — because it is these larger ideas he mulls over.

“A few art critics don’t know where to place me. I’ve been described as ‘introspective’ and ‘international’ but I don’t know what that means. To be honest, in the past, I grappled with the identity of my art, but I now know it’s something that will not come immediately. I always tell my students that it’s okay, they don’t need to find themselves in art school,” says Sharma, who is also a full-time fine arts lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Being able to find like-minded individuals and institutions who appreciate his work has been “heart-warming”, which is why being the first Singaporean artist to hold a solo exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf has been an ideal collaboration. Last year, he’d invited the gallery to view some of his earlier light-related works at his studio, and later, he proposed a more developed exhibition idea to them.

“I think Sullivan + Strumpf are taking a risk with me because it’s not familiar work. But they’ve been really encouraging in wanting to show my new experimental installations.”

The Anunciation (2017) by Jeremy Sharma

Spectrum Version 2.2 is on at Sullivan + Strumpf Singapore till 20 August. Visit sullivanstrumpf.com for more information.

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