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Selected Exhibitions

Exhibition : Living Stories
Date  :  3 -23 August 2012
Venue : The Substation Gallery, SingaporeL

 Living Stories is a collection of works, five years in the making, that will exhibited at the 
The Substation Gallery this August. The exhibition reinterprets the iconography of well-
known stories, and in doing so, creates a particular kind of social commentary relevant
to contemporary Singaporean society. Tim Zeelie caught up with S.Chandrasekaran,
the artist, to find out more about this exhibition

TZ: Despite referring to many well-known old and inherited stories, your idea for this
exhibition feels new and unusual. Can you tell us a bit more about the exhibition? 

SC: Living Stories brings out the ‘symbolic’ representation of stories that belongs to us. These stories express the societal changes that happen as part of our everyday reality, and
these changes are transformed and interpreted through various forms of iconic images. 
The reinterpreted iconic images reflect the various social issues society grapples with, and these regained meanings reflect the various socio-political and economic

complexities of daily life in Singapore. Some of the stories have to do with the
‘pre-determined’ conditions in which we live, while others look into how the net-citizens
address their tensions and contradictions through social media. This exhibition aims to
regain and reinterpret the voice of the society as living stories through paintings,
sculptures and drawings.  

TZ: Roland Barthes, in his book Mythologies, reveals how the symbolism in cultural
products often goes unquestioned. Symbolism and meaning is passed off as ‘natural’, when instead it is socially constructed and embedded in ideology. How does this
exhibition relate to Barthes theories, and in what ways are you reinterpreting the
semiotics of these stories? 

SC: I am interested in traditional narratives, in making them relevant to modern society, and in re-expressing them as present-day stories. In the Hindu Epic, the Ramayana, for
example, Hanuman the Monkey God depicts his devotion to Rama and Sita by ripping
open his heart, in which images of Rama and Sita are reflected. This sort of devotion can still be seen in modern society and in our social and political system.  
In one of the works, Riches, Reputation and Devotion a bull-lion opens its heart to express the devotion we have for the system. In this image, though, Hanuman becomes the

bull-lion, which is a reference to Singapore’s iconic Merlion. In its heart is a bolt of
lightning, and above its head it carries a hammer. The hammer and the lightning bolt are both political symbols locally, and help recontextualise the image, and place it within
socio-political conditions.

TZ: It’s a huge exhibition, and includes bronze sculptures, drawings and paintings. How
long has it taken to create these works and why did you decide to use these particular mediums (bronze, drawing and painting)?

SC: The paintings and small drawings are all images that depict how the psyche is
influenced and manipulated by our socio-political and economic reality. The bronze works depict various iconic forms that I’ve adapted and reinterpreted from Indian mythology. These iconic forms bridge the gap between traditional narratives and our present-day
context. I hope that they will allow the viewers to see past narratives reflected in the
present, as living in the present. These works were created over the period of five years.


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