Straits: Nobuaki Takekawa & Tang Dixin


Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present "Straits", a duo exhibition featuring Nobuaki Takekawa (b. 1977, Japan) and Tang Dixin (b. 1982, China). This exhibition explores the two artists' unconventional ways of art-making as a result of their unique, impromptu and playful collaboration with each other.

Takekawa and Tang have both developed their respective careers in different ways and have encountered Singapore's art scene on separate occasions. In addition to his three solo exhibitions at Ota Fine Arts Singapore in 2013, 2016 and 2018, Takekawa has also exhibited in the Singapore Biennale (2016). In the presentation, he showcased an installation with a playful visual language including motifs such as animals, rockets, and board games, through which viewers were guided to reflect on the progress of history and democratic systems in Asia. Tang held a solo exhibition titled "Dog Bark" at our gallery in 2015 and showcased a series of paintings. Tang's provocative trait runs through his works, bringing about a sense of tension and absurdity through his surreal imagery. He also ponders on and challenges the physical ability of human beings through performance.

The paths of these two artists crossed several years ago, and their friendship started to deepen in 2018. Tang was organizing artist residencies and collaborations in Sifang Museum in Nanjing, China, and had invited Takekawa to stay there for one summer. Located in the suburb of Nanjing City, the museum offered an abundance of space for the artists to live and create. Together with other local artists, they spent time together, not only making art but also exchanging ideas and having discussions. The outcome of this collective experience was realized as a massive event at the museum, titled "HUGE HUGE". Comprising of music, live performances and light shows, the event took place outdoors and a few hundred people attended.

Through this project, they explored ways of interacting with the environment. Takekawa made use of locally-collected soil and also worked with a local ceramic workshop to create ceramic sculptures. Both of them went into a pond and observed the surrounding forests to nurture ideas of displaying sculptures and conducting a light show. Takekawa also carried out a ceramics workshop to interact with the local audience. Both artists were inspired by such activities which contrasted with their usual way of art-making where they face the canvas alone.

For this exhibition, "Straits", the two artists stayed in Singapore together for 11 days. They observed the environment of the city state to look for inspiration. The forests were of particular interest to them, which led to their repeated visits to forested areas over several days. As a playful experiment, they placed a pyramid-shaped rice in the forest and observed the changes that occurred. Once, the rice was totally gone the next day. Another time, it was partially eaten, and also became mouldy in the end. The imagination arising from their forest explorations inspired them greatly and they completed several paintings and drawings during their stay in Singapore.

The shape of a pyramid, for Takekawa, is a symbol of power, reflecting the history of a king employing slaves to build the gigantic structure. The pyramid-shaped rice is, on the contrary, the reverse process of this: the ants can take the rice home grain by grain. The whole structure is there to be dissolved by tiny individuals. This is reflected in his painting Demolition of Rice Pyramid (2020). As for Tang, the jungle is a place where he can move around freely, and also a place where human beings belong. The 6-meter long drawing he completed this time, Forest With Bodies (2020), depicts his idea in an abstract expression, with many human bodies amidst lush, untamed nature. Ota Fine Arts invites you to experience the synergy between both artists and the environment through the works created during their stay in Singapore.

Installation Views