Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tea and art at Arteastiq in Singapore


They call it "Social Painting" -- tea with art,
or better yet, art with some tea thrown in

So the other night, in Singapore living a TRAVELIFE, we were at the Mandarin along Orchard Road for my chicken rice fix. Every time I visit Singapore, my friend T and I come here to catch up over simple comfort food.

On our way down, we used the escalators and took our sweet time checking out all the new stores and restaurants in the building. It's full of cool and cutting-edge establishments.

ON SALE EVERYWHERE NOW



AN ART SCHOOL?

This was when I saw Arteastiq. It caught my eye because it looked like a very pretty and chic tea shop. But next to it was a gallery-like space that looked like a messy art school, with easels, canvases and paints.



I said: "Whatever is that?"

So of course we just had to find out. We went in and had a talk with the manager, and we found out about this very innovative concept of having your tea and your painting too.

People can pay S$48, and for this they receive a blank canvas, a space to paint, a set of new brushes and as much paint as they wish. They also get to borrow an apron so they don't get their clothes dirtied, and a cup of tea.


Then they're left alone for a maximum of three hours to explore their creative talents.

What a nice concept, I thought. And I made up my mind to try this the very next time I'm in Singapore.

A VISIT TO GILMAN BARRACKS

But maybe it was the very stimulating visit to the Gilman Barracks just a few hours earlier that did it, as the Gilman Barracks is Singapore's newest arts venue and soon it will officially be the newest and most exciting contemporary arts destination in Asia.

I spent the afternoon puttering around the galleries and talking to the gallery managers and a couple of artists. I loved my visit to the super out-of-the-box Michael Janssen Gallery, which had art focusing on very relevant issues and topics painted right on the walls instead of a canvas.

Art on the walls at the Michael Janssen Gallery

I aslo enjoyed visiting the Ota Fine Arts Gallery, which is the Singapore branch of a respected gallery in Roppongi in Tokyo.

Yayoi Kusama at the Ota Fine Arts Gallery

The Ota Fine Arts Gallery was very coincidentally holding an exhibit of some of the works of Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan's leading contemporary artists, and also one of my favorites. I was so visually stimulated -- or perhaps electrified is more the word to use -- by her works and I kept thinking about these all day.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

So when I woke up this morning, I had a hankering to go back to Arteastiq and try my hand at a canvas.

Fortunately my friends were patient and game, so we all went there and I spent an hour having fun splashing paint onto a 50x50 canvas. Nothing serious as I didn't have time, but I had memories of Yayoi Kusama's works in my head and I had a really in-the-zone time just focusing on my painting.

That's me, starting on my "masterpiece"

For a one-hour work that was pretty large -- it was a 50 x 50 canvas after all -- I think it turned out pretty well. If I had a whole afternoon at leisure, I'm sure I would have done a much better job. But over ginger and ginseng tea, I really had fun painting flowers onto a canvas.

A great afternoon tea at Arteastiq

Better than therapy and so much cheaper too, I jokingly said to my friends.

I liked my work a lot and Arteastiq even has these great cardboard boxes to pack your painting into, so that you can carry it home even if it's still wet.

I flew out of Singapore for Manila tonight and I could easily have brought my painting with me. But one of my friends in Singapore seemed to like it enough, so I gave it to this friend instead.

And that's the final product after about an hour...

LONG-LOST LOVE

My little painting session today really made me want to go back to painting seriously again. In my home in Tokyo, one of my living room walls is lined with a series of my oil paintings on people that I did years ago when I actually had weekends to myself.

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And just two weeks ago, when I had a couple of very important Filipinos over for a home-cooked dinner, they'd actually expressed admiration and even a bit of shock that I had painted those.

It was certainly a nice feeling; and now all I want to do if I ever find some time is to make giant and very colorful canvases expressing the things I've seen and experienced in my Travelife.

But at the moment, I can't even find a minute to myself in this same never-ending Travelife. So my next career as a contemporary arts painter will have to wait.

ARTEASTIQ
Mandarin Gallery
333 Orchard Road, Singapore




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