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Art What!: STPI presents ‘PRINT SCREEN: CHARLES LIM YI YONG’ 

For the third edition of its PRINT SCREEN programme, STPI Gallery presents a line-up of works by Charles Lim Yi Yong (Singapore) at its pop-up space, ArtSpace @ HeluTrans. Launched in August 2022, PRINT SCREEN is a brand new initiative dedicated to rediscovering works from STPI’s past collaborations with international artists. In tandem with the featured works, it also showcases films by the artists, and films related to their works in the pop-up space. Lim’s showcase at PRINT SCREEN follows the artistic presentations of Isabel & Alfredo Aquilizan (b. Philippines, based in Australia) and Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia).

Rita Targui, Gallery Director, says, “Rigorous in his research and ambitious in the breadth of the works developed over the years, Charles Lim has fleshed out new dimensions in the conversation on our engagement with the natural world by methodically exploring the interplay between the physical and intangible attributes of Singapore’s surrounding ecology. Although strongly rooted in our nation’s geo-political intricacies, Lim’s narratives are forward-looking and go beyond borders, providing a pertinent opportunity to grapple with global issues on capitalist expansion, environmentalism and national identity.”

Staggered Observations of a Coast (2021) exhibition installation shot, STPI Gallery, Singapore.

Lim has earned critical distinction through his unique approach to exploring the relationship between the manufactured and the natural worlds. His presentation at PRINT SCREEN comes at a time when the artist is taking part in major institutional showcases worldwide. A selection of video, print and paper-based works are part of the curation for Collection Exhibition 2 Sea Lane – Connecting to the Islands in the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (3 Nov 2022 – 19 Mar 2023). Aligned with the exhibition’s overarching theme, Islands Connecting Okinawa and the Sea, Lim’s inclusion will touch on the political and cultural aspects of land expansion by referencing Singapore’s land reclamation history. In collaboration with Simryn Gill, Lim is also participating in the 17th Istanbul Biennial—curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar and David Teh—with a five minute-long video work that traces the instinctual yet shared anticipation of climatic events, inspired by a voyage the pair embarked upon years prior (17 Sep to 20 Nov 2022).

PRINT SCREEN’s third edition will feature Lim’s STPI print and paper artworks as well as a selection of his video works. His residency at STPI draws strongly from his enduring fascination with the visible and invisible lenses of the sea. As a former Olympic sailor, they are further inspired from his regular sailing trips along the East Coast anchorage of Singapore. In order to manoeuvre with the wind effectively, one has to apply their sense of ‘staggered observations’ – noting the sea and cloud patterns over an extended period of time so as to “see” the wind, an invisible space. This is the starting point for viewing Lim’s body of work.

The cloud motifs in works such as HLL, and the Staggered Observations and Zone of Convergence series speak to the phenomena known as wind doldrums, where the winds from the Northern and Southern hemispheres collide and cancel each other out. The resulting state of stillness suggests that nothing is taking place, paralleling the creation of a historical void when forming the “nation-state”. The audience is thus invited apply our own sense of “staggered observations” to see the unseen.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, SEASTATE 5 : drift (rope sketch) (still), 2012, Single-channel HD digital video, 5 minutes. © Charles Lim Yi Yong.

For SEASTATES Study and SEASTATE 029, Lim’s pursuit of manifesting the invisible is further applied through re-examining familiar imageries from his long-term project that started in 2005, Staggered Observations of a Coast (2021) exhibition installation shot, STPI Gallery, Singapore. SEA STATE (presented in the Singapore Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale). The project investigates Singapore’s unique maritime attributes and how it acts as a counterpoint to what takes place on the land politically, socially and culturally. Further correlations with his SEA STATE project are SEASTATE 7 : sand print 2 (400,000 sqm, 2015, Tuas) and SEASTATE 7 : 3 (400,000 sqm, 2015, Tuas) which aptly reflect on Singapore’s relentless land reclamation project.

PRINT SCREEN will also highlight two video works by Lim: SEASTATE 5 : drift (rope sketch) and SEASTATE 9 : a lonely concert for what was there. drift expresses the arbitrary nature of borders at sea, whereas a lonely concert for what was there pays tribute to mataikan, the coastal village that Lim grew up in and was subsequently demolished.

An established artist constantly seeking to push the boundaries of his oeuvre through an exploration of the natural world with manmade environments, Charles Lim Yi Yong’s apt and dedicated study of Singapore’s maritime context as a swirl of nature and human activities cements his place as an exciting contemporary voice in the international art world.

PRINT SCREEN: CHARLES LIM YI YONG runs from 15th October to 20th November 2022 at STPI, 41 Robertson Quay Singapore 238236. More information available here

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