Cheo Chai-Hiang – In A Cowboy Town….. (Singapore)



Press release

Michael Janssen Singapore is pleased to present its first solo exhibition with Singapore-born Conceptual artist Cheo Chai-Hiang. Entitled In A Cowboy Town…人 在江湖..... this exhibition will feature eleven thought-provoking works in a range of media that include objects, signboards and neon lights.

In this exhibition, the artist invites the viewer to imagine entering a mindscape where ‘place’ is provisional and time is a mirror stretching long and wide and high and deep. Where past and future mingle and tangle, tangle and mingle, both caught within a single random moment – sinister, dark, and dangerous. And carnivalesque.

Often hailed as one of the pioneers of the Singapore contemporary art scene, Cheo, who has a studio in Melaka, Malaysia, has drawn inspiration from the disappearing trades of the region in this exhibition; featuring traditional craft practices of clog-making, signboard carving and handmade wooden barrel-making in the production of his sculptural objects.

An installation titled “Network of Pricks” featuring 50 bronze pieces hanging from the ceiling, each accompanied by a motorcycle side-mirror is inspired by the late Singapore playwright Kuo Pao Kun’s famous play “Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral”.

Offering a retrospective yet distorted look at the past, In A Cowboy Town…人在江湖..... creates a space for the viewer to reflect on the present, providing a new context to the artist’s ongoing preoccupations with the questions of “ Who am I? Where am I?”.

One of the few artists able to articulate his thoughts and work in both English and Mandarin Chinese, a constant preoccupation in Cheo’s work is an on-going exploration into the limits of translatability between both languages in both visual and textual form.

In A Cowboy Town…人在江湖...... follows the gallery’s successful presentation of a selection of works from the artist at Art Stage Singapore earlier on in the year. On the night of the exhibition opening, Friday September 11, choreographic duo Aaron Khek and Thien Pau Wong will grace the occasion with a dance performance titled Performing 50 Pioneer Generation Statues. Opening Remarks will be made by art historian, curator and critic T.K. Sabapathy, a lecturer in the history of Southeast Asian Art and a Research Fellow at NTU CCA Singapore.

Isabel Ching, curatorial collaborater to In A Cowboy Town…人在江湖..... will give a talk entitled Cheo Chai-Hiang -- Translating Conceptual Art: One and Three (Re)Articulations", on Friday September 25 at 4.30 pm as part of Art After Dark / Gillman Barracks Third Anniversary Celebrations.