Naima Morelli

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Gerald Leow

“Why should the government pay you to have fun?”

Yeah, right, why? Gerald Leow was the first person who phrased the question in this way. It shows that the kind of questions you ask, and the way you ask it, can result in overturning an entire vision, or perhaps making some hidden dynamics come to the surface.

This very simple question is one which artists from other countries would have asked themselves visiting Singapore, but a question that perhaps not many Singaporeans are asking themselves, perhaps not in this way. Gerald is aware of it: “I have very controversial views. I think as an artist…”, he hesitates as he ponders the words. “That’s the only thing that makes you special. It’s your mojo, you know? And then instead of protecting this thing and having full autonomy over it, you give it to someone else and say, “Here: how about you dictate what kind of work should I do?” To me it sounds ridiculous.”

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Audience anxiety

In 2017, I visited a show a of ceramic artist Iskandar Jalil, in dialogue with the young Singaporean artist Gerald Leow at the National Gallery of Singapore. Gerald’s day job was set design, and it showed from his intervention in the show, which was very subtle. He built a metal structure evoking the traditional house of Inskandar with a simple metal outline. I was looking forward to seeing the show since the artist mentioned that he was doing research from it in our first interview, and I peered out curiously into the room. Before I had the chance to set foot inside, the gallery sitter, gentle as ever, handed me a flyer: “Please find here some information about the show. You will find also the interview of the curator with Gerald Leow and some information about the content of the show. Please proceed to your left to see the exhibition.” Being a Neapolitan, so a rule-breaker by nature, I was about to blurt out: “Well, what if I want to start from the right?” After all, there was no chronology intended in the work, and there were no other people in room. But instead, I shut up and remembered where I was. And yes, I was in a place where the so-called audience anxiety was real.

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GeraldLeow

CoBo Social has just published an interview with one of my favorite Singaporean artists, Gerald Leow. We did the interview this past June, at the time he exhibited his latest series “I am Time Grown Old To Destroy the World” at Chan+Hori gallery in Singapore.

Here is the link to the interview

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