In February I visited National Gallery Singapore, a smart new (opened 2015) art museum housed in a pair of colonial-era buildings, the former Supreme Court and the adjacent City Hall.
There was a temporary exhibition happening on Minimalist Art. Now call me an unsophisticated ignoramus but I just don’t get Minimalism. Take a look at this piece for example called ‘Blank Paper’ by Liu Jianhua. The explanation reads: ‘At first glance, Blank Paper resembles three large, empty sheets of paper …. which is in fact white porcelain ……..each monochromatic rectangle is devoid of narrative elements, suggesting a tabula rasa upon which we can project our own meaning.’ I’m sure the artist is having a good laugh at how he can pass off this work as art.
This work is a little better, a one-ton cube of dried Pu’er tea leaves by Ai Weiwei. Other pieces include a room full of blue LED lights representing ‘the radiance of human life’, another room bathed in intense yellow neon light which makes your skin look blotchy, and a thick carpet of porcelain sunflower seeds.
Fortunately the National Gallery has a large collection of more traditional paintings, mostly by Southeast Asian artists, which are more my cup of tea. Here is a selection: