An Interview with the artists behind ANTINODES on Singapore Art Week
• 4 min read
Didier “Jaba” Mathieu
What does art mean to you? Art is a space where the mind has that freedom to go in any direction in which there should be no rules, is the mirror of our times, society and civilizations is a machine to travel into the future and past. It's a means to counterbalance injustice and a place to meditate and be happy. An elusive weapon for humanity.
What do you think of Singapore Art Week? It is a great opportunity to gather in these difficult times and be up to date on what fellow artists have been recently cooking. It is a place to get inspired and to inspire, a breath of fresh air in a city that has been too disciplined for obvious reasons, the art week is a step into a more normal way of life, it's necessary for our common well being.
How do you think the art scene in Singapore has changed over the years? It has changed a lot! I came to Singapore in 2007 and at that time there was no art fair such as the affordable art fair or Art Stage, no Gillman Barracks or National Gallery, Art Science Museum..none of them.. it is obvious that the government has invested a lot into culture in the recent years and there is a positive response from the public with a lot of people attending the events.. for me as a muralist/graffiti writer there is also so much more opportunities these past few years, a lot of murals has been painted not only in Kampong Glam district but also little India, Chinatown, and Joo Chiat. Some of my murals have become a sort of touristic hotspot, generating traffic and helping the rebirth of certain areas like Haji Lane which was at some parts partially abandoned back in 2007.
What are some other interesting exhibitions in the Singapore Art Week that you would recommend? I definitely recommend checking out the Tanjong Pagar Distripark. I loved the Sea Focus Exhibition and the SAM exhibition on gallery1 with a gorgeous installation and works that revolve around mushrooms and music.. and of course on level 5 The Antinodes exhibition in which I'm a part of along with my spouse Delphine Rama and many talented friends such as Kiat, Kringe, and Metamo industries. There is also a very good selection of performing arts at Aliwal Art center curated by the ultra-talented Angie Seah.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could have a collection of… Hieronymus Bosch
The theme song of my life is… "Ojos de Perro Azul" from Ruben Blades, the lyrics are just so incredible.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Don't take anything for granted, create with passion and learn from the past and nature..
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist. I think I've always been in this world. My father was an art critic. We visited many artists' studios but I didn't think that one day, I would do this job. I studied architecture and painting was my passion, but it will finally take an important place in my life.
What does art mean to you? For me, art represents openness to the world. It pushes us to be curious, to think differently. There are always many stories behind an artwork.
Who are your biggest artistic influences? I often refer to the artist Rémond Art because he was a friend of my father and his paintings rocked my childhood. So they had a big impact on my work. Then if I owe an artist from the past, I would say Giacomo and Katharina Grosse for today.
When is your favourite time of the day to create? I have always had a preference to work during the day. Morning and afternoon simply for light.
What do you think of Singapore Art Week? I find that for one of the first events after this sad Covid-19 situation, creating this invitation to the public to see art is a very nice approach. We have missed culture a lot in recent years, so it was a great opportunity to meet it again.
How do you think the art scene in Singapore has changed over the years? I have only been in Singapore for two years, so it is difficult for me to give a very objective opinion.
How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world? I think when art is a passion, a way of life, we are very naturally interested in what is happening. For my part, I have always gone to see exhibitions, I still read a lot of articles and I listen to chronicles.
What is the biggest challenge of being an artist? I think it's to keep something very authentic but also and above all to find collaborations or institutions that protect this authenticity.
What are some other interesting exhibitions in the Singapore Art Week that you would recommend? I recommend The Observatory at SAM, Singapore Art Museum. Magnificent exhibition on bio-rhythms. Very nice collector's artwork to also observe at S.E.A Focus.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… I think I would have loved to be a costume designer for the film industry as well.