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Nobuaki Takekawa & Tang Dixin | Straits

15 January – 29 February 2020

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. In 2018, Tang also conducted a socially-engaged project with Takekawa in the neighbourhood of Takekawa’s studio in Japan. Both of them held a microphone in their hands and carried a speaker over their shoulders. As Takekawa spoke to strangers on street or just said a few words randomly through the microphone, his speech was amplified through the speaker and Tang would repeat the exact words that Takekawa had said. As Tang does not understand the Japanese language at all, his behaviour was not about communication but simply playing with the sounds. This performance was documented and eventually presented in the form of a video titled “Pure Voice” (2018).

For their exhibition in Singapore, the two artists have been exchanging drawings via phone messaging to develop their thoughts. The exhibition will showcase these drawings as well as new works created during their stay in Singapore specially for this occasion. They will explore the environment around Gillman Barracks as well as across Singapore, and make works from their observations. The artists will also conduct a special performance at the gallery on 15th January 2020, 7.30 pm, during Singapore Art Week. Prior to the opening of the exhibition, the gallery will also share the process of the exchange of ideas between Takekawa and Tang through its social media platforms. The two artists will challenge and seek forms of collaboration, inspired by the tropical country away from their homes.