About this Publication
|Singapore artists: a select annotated bibliography.|
|Volume 1: The Nanyang Artists|
|- Yeo, Alicia, et al.|
|RSING 016.7095957 LEE-[LIB]|
|All rights reserved. National Library Board, 2009.|
|Last updated: 30 September 2009|
Table of Contents
Foreword by T.K. Sabapathy
The importance of this publication has to be acknowledged and underlined, even as it throws into relief abiding problems. It weighs in somewhat as an archive, enabling the mapping of trajectories for advancing research and the study of art. Trajectories that are more readily prospected systematically and incrementally; trajectories that now facilitate directed, scholarly appraisals of a concept of art or an art idea that has been upheld as formative and salient, namely: the Nanyang.
True, it is not an exhaustive bibliography of the Nanyang or Southeast Asia as a field in art studies; the selection is confined to textual and audiovisual sources in the collection of the National Library in Singapore. These are gathered and clustered around six artists. I know of only one other annotated bibliography devoted to an artist; it is published by the NUS Museums of the National University of Singapore in 2001.1 The artists nominated in this publication are: Chen Chong Swee, Georgette Chen, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng, Lim Hak Tai and Liu Kang. They are among the leading proponents of the Nanyang in their writing and conversations, as well as manifesting it in their particular practices.
A focus such as this tends to reinforce a scope of appraising art or perspectives of art history in which the artist is installed as the dominant force or determining agency in the art world. These are matters that are hotly debated and contested in discussions on art today. Indeed, difficulties encountered in securing autonomous positions or status for artists, are discernible in this publication. For even as the listing is disposed towards bibliographically fleshing out these artists’ individuality, each is not isolated, separated from another. Again and again, the listed resources point to connections between them and to interests that lead beyond individual histories and ideals. In pursuing these affiliations laterally, the sense or importance of the individual is not lost, is not diminished. On the contrary, significance and stature of an artist are gauged that much more astutely, resonantly through comparative appraisals. This publication prompts such appraisals along a number of registers.
While it is received as enabling, this annotated bibliography could also and effectively be trained, by both the user and the provider, to appraise the extent to which resources in this library consolidate or cohere as a requisite archival body for developing sustained research on the topic of the Nanyang. Even as it publicises what is in the collection cogently and prospectively, it equally highlights what is absent. By and large, texts produced before the Second World War, have not been acquired. There are also gaps marked by the absence of important writings by some of the artists and writers who are listed.
In casting an expansive perspective, it has to be pointed out that the Nanyang was represented, articulated not only by the six who are nominated for mention here, but variously and by many others; and from the early decades of the twentieth century until the present. The Nanyang encompasses a number of cultural and creative fields; some of these are forwarded as intersecting or overlapping with one another, while others are set out as discrete domains. The Nanyang was also resisted; that is to say, there were artists who turned away from conceptions of the Nanyang, rejecting them as essentialist and regressive, and setting out to create art that embodied realist mandates and ideologies. The refusal of the Nanyang is an important gauge of its salience, historically. These are matters that are germane to reinforcing, expanding and deepening bibliographical resources in institutions such as national libraries. In these regards, archives are not finite entities but are continuously expanded and re-constituted, thereby spurring scholarship anew and as a dynamic enterprise.
Be that as it may, this annotated bibliography inaugurates and consolidates vital grounds on which research and studies of aspects of Singapore’s and, for that matter, Southeast Asia’s histories of the modern in art may be developed, systematically and rigorously. In doing so, this publication illuminates generative archival veins along which art scholarship can be propelled and cultivated, formatively.
T.K.Sabapathy is currently Adjunct Associate Professor and Lecturer in History of Art at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore.
|1||Fan, J. (2001). Ng Eng Teng An Annotated Bibliography. NUS Museums, National University of Singapore.|
The Arts Librarians
The Arts Librarians of the National Library of Singapore maintain the arts collection on Level 8 of the National Library building, covering resources on topics ranging from architecture, fine arts to illustrations and the design arts. The collection currently stands at over 37,000 books and more than a hundred journals or magazines, in addition to e-resources that are subscribed by the National Library of Singapore. The visual arts collection and the performing arts collection in the library@esplanade are mutually complementary.
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