Developed over a few years from 1987 onwards in the Chye Hong Coffee Shop in Bukit Timah, this body of works had a paradoxically short span of presentation when the time came to share it with the public. The exhibition lasted barely three days, but the brevity of the event was largely compensated by its unusual character, considering that the typical Singaporean coffee shop that had inspired this labour of love was turned into a momentary sensorial art installation, food, customers, smells and curry stains included. A friend recently mentioned that this was probably the first coffee shop exhibition in Singapore, and I guess it might well be the case.
To my delight, the owner of the coffee shop saw no problem in my presenting the works in-situ. We first had a private party on a Sunday afternoon, which was the normal weekly time of rest for the whole coffee shop, after which I could keep the works in place for a couple of days during which the coffee shop was going about its daily business. And so for a few days the images entered in a lively dialogue with the common items, customers, objects and occurrences that had inspired them. The finishing touch to this site specific installation of 2D works was given with the discarded cardboards of the drink crates. Collected right there from the owner of the coffee shop, they were used to frame the smaller works, complete with the round imprints of the cans into the fiber of cardboard. The rawness of the found object material however was reworked with gold leaf and black paint for the black and white works and bright motifs for the colourful works. By now I guess that this could be seen as an early exercise in stylish environmental recycling, although this type of concern too had yet to take hold into the wider concerns of the society, at least locally that is. Anyway it was cheap, practical, stylish and conceptually on the dot. Most of all, it made art come alive. So clever leh....Like that lah! Can't help it.
Installation Views on the 25and 26 May 1992
Opening party on the Sunday 24 May 1992 afternoon
To all my dear friends featured here, thank you, you know who you are, including the few of you who are already watching all this from the other side of the veil. Love you.
Newspaper Review and related article
Related Body of Works: the Tanjong Pagar Station coffee shop black and white prints