The National Visual Arts Gallery Pt. II

by cedhausen

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And then, it feels like we’ve stepped into the looking glass and realised Wonderland was really more macabre than we have ever imagined. Yes, the imagery was as shocking as the vending machine itself, sitting at a lone corner in the dark, with the only light glowing a sickly yellow from within the machine. I could almost hear the thud of meat as the hooks mechanically moves and drops them to the floor, and the flesh sliding against the screen as it settles to the ground. In art, even the grotesque are celebrated. I’m just not sure it I enjoy as much as I would a Renoir painting. And in case you’re wondering, the Malay words above translates as “Fresh Frog Cow(s)”.

… who comes up with these?!

So, busy day. I had to rush out to pick up my boss from her place, then take a thirty minute drive down to the office while listening to Electroswing in the car hoping to make the journey less awkward than I think it was. In all fairness, it was actually quite comfortable. We ended up just talking about property in Singapore, my projects during the weekends, family, food, the slight possibility of her tagging along at one of my excursions whenever I visit a new place that I think deserves a feature… now wouldn’t that be an interesting title for a post? “Hanging Out with the Boss”.

It is something I wouldn’t mind exploring someday because I think not many people are able to connect with their employers the way I do mine. I think… I’m picturing Anna Wintour hanging out with her newest secretary… wouldn’t that make the headlines? Besides, my boss jumped at the idea and told me,

“Do you know what’s the good thing if it happened?”


“You don’t have to drive! Akmal (her driver) could drive us!”

“… so you mean, he’ll come pick me up from my place?”


… exciting, or intimidating, I’ll let you decide. I think it’ll be fun, albeit a little unnerving perhaps. But hey, I was the one who actually threw the suggestion, so why not own up to it?

Anyway, minor digression, and it’s back to the art gallery.

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I’m not entirely sure if there are any permanent exhibits in the art gallery aside from the one that houses this pair of paintings and the horrific vending machine. Regardless, it is nice to see work produced by local talent displayed on the walls. I’m a little dismayed by the lack of visitors though, and I’m not even sure if Ramadan is a good excuse for the empty gallery. Could it be that people just aren’t enthusiastic about the surreal and the strange (which seems to thrive in this gallery)?

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Some of you might scoff when I say this but I really do miss seeing paintings by Impressionists hanging on walls, marbled Greek gods posing sensually on pedestals, alien scripts incised on stone tablets, porcelain figurines painted in lurid colours, woodblock prints featuring samurais and geishas, china that didn’t come from China… Oh give me the Fitzwilliam or the Ashmolean any day… though the particularly small Scarborough Art Gallery I visited with my dad when he came for my graduation in the UK was surprisingly delightful too.

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I realise I’ve been describing museums and not art galleries earlier, but most items displayed in museums are usually works of art anyway. When you think about it, almost everything in existence is a work of art. From the tissue box on your table to the pillow you nuzzle your face with: who dictates they be in the shape and form they are today? Some designer in a sweatshop who couldn’t be bothered to come up with a spherical tissue box (oxymoronic, no?) or a durian-shaped pillow most likely…

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My friend and I were pretty weirded out by some of the exhibits, so he decided to shake it off by attempting a split mid-air, which resulted in this absolutely stunning photo of his impeccable form. We couldn’t even figure out why there were so many pinafores lined up along walls in this part of the gallery… They do make for one unsettling photograph though. Well, one that’s mitigated by my friend jumping in mid-air.

So that’s the National Visual Arts Gallery ladies and gentlemen. I’d recommend a visit only when you happen to be passing by the area, or when you’re waiting to catch a show at Istana Budaya. Frankly, I’m not too impressed by the place, though there were a few hidden gems here and there, like the (dare I admit it…) vending machine.

Alright, I’m becoming less eloquent by the minute and I have a rough week ahead of me. Good night and so long folks! Next time, a snazzy looking café or two! Depending if I have to drive my boss to work again…