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Artist : Betty Susiarjo  Bill Zhao  Chong Yanhong  Laila Azra  
9 July - 19 August 2017

Gillman Barracks


Titled The Calm Before the Storm, Element Art Space’s first exhibition upon its re-opening at Gillman Barracks is aptly named to entice the audience of what is to come. Composed of five artists from China, Singapore and Indonesia, the gallery is staying true to its roots to introduce exciting artists and works from the region. The showcase focuses on abstraction, which continues to increase in prevalence due to a response to, and a reflection of, the growing abstraction of social relations in an industrial society. The artworks created may be seen as a marriage influenced by old concepts paired together with a fresh terminology—ultimately a creative rebirth of learned aesthetics. 


Betty Susiarjo is a mixed-media artist based in Singapore, whose work engages concepts of temporality, materiality and beauty. Inspired by observations and experiences of the everyday, her works seek for an awareness of a moment presented in a particular time and space, thus providing a poetic realm for contemplation. Her video works are not narratives, but they present arrested images, which trigger slightly melancholic, romantic and philosophical questions about everyday reality and beauty. Employing some element of craft to her work, she juxtaposes methods such as sewing, embroidery, beading etc. to create visual sensations that lie between the perceptible and the illusioned. 


Bill Zhao (Zhao Xu) is more prominently known as the owner of China’s Poly International Auction. His interest in art started young and he had his first solo exhibition in 1994. His recent abstract works are focused on movement and contemplation similar to the principals of Chinese calligraphy.


Chong Yanhong’s works explore the ever-changing landscape of Singapore and the underlying structures of architecture in their different phases of construction. Chong adopts a different method and approach in the presentation of her work. In her recent practice, photographs are printed on sheets of paper and then applied to the canvas by a transfer process. Using common spaces as her subjects such as, a concert hall, an auditorium, a stadium, and also interiors, she alters and enhances visual and architectural space while leaving some familiar elements that remain in a deconstructed terrain.


Laila Azra is a mixed media artist known for her multi-layered and intricate abstract canvases. Laila views painting as a passage to explore her roots and identity by finding and realizing her personal voice and purpose in life. Issues surrounding culture and life encounters thus remain a common theme. Her gestural paintings are built-up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with threads, liquid latex and thick streams of paint--a multifaceted layer of place, space and time. Laila Azra's compositions are sparked by a personal experience at a universal level. She imbues paint with emotional resonance yet at the same time restricts those emotions within the confines of her often indefinable and mysterious forms.


Raymond Yap Poh Tiam is a recipient of the Selina Cheneviere Fellowship (Major Award in Painting) from the Royal Academy Schools in 2001, Fenton Art Trust Prize & David Murray Travel Scholarship in 2000, and the Drawing Prize (Highly Commended) from the Wimbledon School of Art in 1998. His works explore the idea of using modern media to create fine art.