The excitement was palpable as students who were viewing the gallery engaged in animated conversation. As they moved from exhibit to exhibit, the guests were filled with awe and fascination at the artworks in their spectacular mélange of colours and textures.
The exhibition, titled ‘AEPtitude’, is a biennial event organised by MOE to showcase works by Art Elective Programme (AEP) students. AEPtitude was held from 26 July to 6 August at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
The AEP began in 1984. Currently, the programme is offered at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Nanyang Girls’ High School, Victoria School, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Junior College and National Junior College.
A dragonfly is given a macro perspective by Lim Mu Yao's lens.
Photographic perspectives of daily life
At the launch of AEPtitude, Lim Mu Yao, a Secondary 4 student from Victoria School, presented his photographic works to the Guest-of-Honour, Mr Edmund Cheng, Chairman of the National Arts Council. With technical and artistic maturity, Mu Yao’s photographs featured creative juxtapositions of man-made items with objects in nature.
Mu Yao is fascinated with photography as an art medium and finds inspiration in both the mundane and the extraordinary aspects of daily life. Calling himself “an image creator”, Mu Yao’s most rewarding moments are the interactions with his subjects and how he can influence the outcome of the final images.
While enjoyable, the task is still a challenge. “Seeing the moment, along with acquiring a specific taste for aesthetics can be tough,” said Mu Yao. “If one does not have an eye for the beautiful in photography, no amount of equipment, time, effort nor knowledge would be able to save a poorly seen image.”
A carved city of lights
A sculpture titled The City of Lights by Janice Tan also caught the attention of many visitors. The only artist to use a demanding technique called acrylic carving, Janice painstakingly drilled images onto transparent acrylic boards, creating the effect of embedded pictures within the clear plastic. Warm lights beamed from the bottom of the sculpture cast an enchanting yet eerie effect.
Janice Tan pushed her own artistic boundaries by experimenting with a new medium and created this beautiful sculpture titled “City of Lights”.
For Janice, a former Hwa Chong Institution student who is now in university, The City of Lights is an artistic reflection of the “decay of relationships” in the city and she hoped to remind people that “relationships are still more important than monetary obsessions”.
Why did she choose this somewhat melancholy theme? “It was a gradual process of discovery, explained Janice. “But it appeals most to me because I live in Singapore where I can see this situation developing.”
Learning how to use the drill to achieve different effects was the toughest part of the process, recalls Janice. “My teacher and I had to experiment with it because this technique isn't widely used or documented,” she said. “There were moments when I felt silly for choosing a medium that I was unfamiliar with but that made it much more challenging.”
It’s raining men!
Another artwork which generated much buzz was an oil and acrylic painting - Raining Men and Dog by Ho Zhen Ming, also from Hwa Chong Institution and now serving in the army. Suspended from the ceiling, the painting captured the happy expressions of people falling from the sky.
To realise his vision, Zhen Ming had to piece separate objects together while maintaining a consistent sense of perspective. “I found that quite challenging as the composition I chose was something very new to me,” he said. “I sometimes encountered distortions to my subjects due to a warped perspective that I overlooked during the planning stage. According to my buddy, one of the guys even started to look like a monkey!”
What message does the painting convey? “I hope that when people look at my work, they can feel that they are part of the fall. The painting is suspended overhead and is supposed to be viewed while lying on the ground,” said Zhen Ming. “But unlike how we often associate falls with negative endings, this fall is blissful...I want people to walk away happy to have seen a cheerful painting, yet knowing that behind all that lies a motivation that they can take away with them.”
What is that “motivation”? Faith in oneself and to be able to let go of self-doubt, because “sometimes when you fall, you fly”.
As philosophical as it may sound, this ability to perceive the overlooked facets of life and create personal visions of the world in new perspectives, as Mu Yao, Janice and Zhen Ming have done, is part of the lifelong journey that begins with the AEP.