WeiXin Chong | Strait Times Singapore

Soil and scars on display as part of the President's Young Talents 2018 exhibition

WeiXin Quek CHONG, Installation View. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

WeiXin Quek CHONG, Installation View. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - An artistic investigation into soil and an exploration of keloids and scars are just two of the works on display at the Singapore Art Museum at 8Q from Oct 4 till Jan 27.

This is part of the President's Young Talents 2018 exhibition, for which five promising young artists in Singapore have been commissioned to produce new works.

Prominent names in the local arts scene have emerged from previous editions of this exhibition, including film-maker Boo Junfeng and visual artist Donna Ong.

This year, the works of the five artists - Yanyun Chen, 31, Weixin Quek Chong, 30, Debbie Ding, 34, Hilmi Johandi, 31, and Zarina Muhammad, 36 - span painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance.

While there is no common theme, the artists, under the guidance of mentors, have attempted to push the boundaries of contemporary art.

Chong, for example, wants viewers to disengage from their instinct to rationalise when they step into her gallery, while Ding hopes visitors will take a closer look at something as ubiquitous as soil.

This is the 7th edition of the exhibition, which culminates, this year, in a Grand Prize - a cash prize of $20,000 - and a People's Choice Award - a cash prize of $5,000.

For many of the artists, this is their biggest project yet.

"Usually my practice is so nomadic and fragmented. We just set up, execute and go," said Chong. "It's quite special to have a venue and to be able to test ideas in the space."

The artists had more than six months to work on the commissions and were able to work in the gallery space since mid-September.

Chong's mentor, artist Grace Tan, said it was a great opportunity to work with a younger artist.

"Conceptually, I didn't teach her anything. I just helped to push her deeper and I really enjoyed our dialogues about what is important to her, which included details like materials and textures," said Tan. The other mentors are artists David Chan, Jason Wee and Zaki Razak, and art historian and curator Roger Nelson.

Said Dr June Yap, director of curatorial, programmes and publication at the Singapore Art Museum: "It is a nice snapshot of where young artists are today. There is the experimental aspect and the works speak to personal interests, which can be expanded to more global concerns."