Thursday, June 30, 2011

TK Sabapathy Talk

Main themes and Topics / Some opinions brought up:


Little is known about the Artist : 

Indeed, we lack knowledge of the artist many a times and what we know of the artist is just insufficient for deeper interpretation of the work to make connections between Art and Artist.

Is it important to understand the Intention of the Artist?: 

There is always a dilemma whether we should "get inside" the Artist or the Art work first.

Does the best quality opinion comes from the Artist?:

I think that this is not absolute. It is possible to argue against the artist after learning about the Artist’s intent with your own substantiated opinion.
Is the intention of the Artist acting as a restriction/constrain for the individual?:

Through the history of Art, the ambition to make sense does not stop.

Is the intention of the person looking at it equally important?:

There is certain school of thought that discards the Artist entirely in the interpretation of the meaning of the work. The focus is “Me and the work, the work and me” Is this where it all begins and ends?:

Choices an artist makes in making the piece of work may not be just to satisfy immediate need?
Choices here means the choices of resources, determined by predecessors.
Choices made also falls into the domain of intention

When asked what are the joys he experiences as an art historian, he said that his joy is in the act of writing due to his deep fascination with language. To him, language reveals, conceals, operates, impedes, facilitates, postpone things, just like an agency that keeps you in a writing room.


The artist is primarily the first audience of the work, though we seldom realize that. For example, when Picasso pins up his work and view it from afar, he is presuming the role of an audience.

It is not easy for viewers to be able to discover, come by the physiological disposition, inner emotion. Therefore, how do we relate to the work?:

Is the work the direct cause of what has been disclosed to us? In other words is the saying “The work is the Artist, the Artist is the work” true?:

Why are we as audience so obsessed with meaning?:

When there is a contradiction between the artist’s interpretation and yours, will the artist’s interpretation can change the work for you?:

When somebody interpret an artwork, the person has already internalized her views beforehand based on prior learning and experiences.

Art is firstly about making the visual connection.


Dates are not just numbers on the calendar, they radiate all kinds of other creations.

Nanyang Style
Dates: visit to Bali (1952) Exhibition (1953)
What prompted the visit? What was it from the visit that inspired artists to later create the nanyang style?

How to stitch all these together to make a interesting composition?
A context do not preexist, it is constructive and it brings together data to form a sensible report/account to your own interest/writing.

Interpretation of Art 

one interpretation is the beginning of another

Is there such a thing as over-interpretation? Is there a limit to which you can push things? Interpret too much, too little?:

Does the significance of a work is through the act of interpretation, where to work takes on a public profile, presence, prominence? In other words, until a piece of work is talked about in the public arena, its significance is not yet set?:

 Language for interpretation
Can language capture what the Artist is thinking?:

How did the interpretations come about?:

I think some interpretation is begins as thoughts, something internal, but this later takes the form of conversation and writings.

If one is free to interpret, why would one’s own opinion be of interest to someone else? Or rather, how could that be made of interest to someone else?:

When it is fresh, taken from a new perspective that opens the viewer’s eyes

Art made Commercialized, can Art remain purely art? 

For Art, we need to understand that there are many powerful forces at work. Art could be used for propaganda, or produced for propaganda, which is what happens many a times in history.

Censorship Controversies

When subject matter cross certain kinds of boundaries/convention, should it be censored?:

Who decides what to censor?
Entry of political regime into art

Is SAM doing well as a guardian? Has it lost its way in what it set out to do?:

This is perhaps due to the lack of art education; this will help to provide directors, curators, writers, publicist, and makers of promotional videos.Art education is Singapore does not allow mid-way house, as is considered unproductive for many.Lack of training for curators as civil service does not recognize Museum workers as professionals.

Does Branding, Marketing and Commercialization brings the collapse of ethics and morality in the world? This depends on how morality is directed into the creative world?:


Cultures around the world may have different cultures and rules.
We need to recognize that all artists like human beings are social beings. As social beings, we are aware of the social environment we live in and produce what we produce.

Artists should live out to the maximum of responsibility to self and to the social media. The assertion of individuality cannot be completely suppress by responsibility and it responsibility may not be obligation that suppress individuality.

Ethics and Art
Is the immorality in Art? Can it be conceptualized?:

However, we need to bear in mind that aesthetic and commercial are always connected.

However, I would choose to believe that no artist starts with the aim of being irresponsible as artists would then self destruct.
Responsibility present in Norms, Conventions (Outward Bounce Markers)

Closer to body, greater sense of awareness of what is going on.

Further prompting Questions:

Do we expect too much out of art?
Have we considered what do pictures want?
Do works of Art has an innate life beyond what we interpret them as?

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