Syed Muhammad Hafiz
National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
For a city-state proud of its multi-cultural society, it is a curious fact that one rarely encounters scholarship on Islamic art, or exhibitions on the same topic in Singapore’s art world. Besides the visibility of public mosques and the presence of the Islamic Art permanent gallery in the ethnographic Asian Civilizations Museum, there is little to suggest that there were Singaporean artists who engaged with Islamic art at all. Perhaps when compared to neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia – with their significant Muslim populations – it might seem inevitable to make such an assumption; however, this paper aims to present a few examples of Malay/ Muslim artists who have managed to articulate their Muslim identity or explored notions of spirituality in their works, despite the circumstances. While much discourse on the visual arts in Singapore have revolved around institutional settings or the mainstream English media, there were other initiatives and collective efforts that fell outside these conventions. Hence, this presentation aims to expand the scholarship on Singapore’s art history by contextualising the artists’ practices against the burgeoning state support of the arts in the 1980s-90s period. In addition, their case studies might also provide compelling aesthetic strategies when compared to their regional neighbours.
Biography: To come