Wong Keen


30.08 // 01.09 2019

The Butcher's Wife, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 121 x 161 cm

artcommune gallery is pleased to announce our participation at the upcoming Art Jakarta at Jakarta Convention Center Senayan, Indonesia, from 30 August to 1 September 2019. Our booth at C22 will feature around 8 works by one of Singapore’s leading artists, Wong Keen, with the largest work being a canvas painting measuring 215 x 305 cm. artcommune’s presentation of Flesh Matters 2.0 at Art Jakarta is supported by The Culture Story and marks the first time works from the artist’s critically acclaimed Flesh Series are showcased outside of Singapore.

Wong Keen: Flesh Matters 2.0 at Art Jakarta marks a fascinating revisit and a refreshing extension of last year’s successful showcase, Wong Keen: Flesh Matters, which was co-organised by artcommune gallery and The Culture Story, and ran from 12 to 22 July 2018 at Artspace@Helutrans, Singapore. Significant works like The Meat Stall and The Butcher’s Wife, which were highlighted in the 2018 Flesh Matters exhibition, will travel to audience at the Art Jakarta, along with other new and never-been-seen works from the series.

Wong Keen (b. 1942, Singapore) grew up in a Chinese literati environment and as a child studied drawing and painting under pioneer artists Liu Kang and Chen Wen Hsi. He was an acclaimed teenage painter in the early Singapore art scene before leaving Singapore in 1961 to study at the prestigious Art Students League of New York. He was the first Singaporean and among the earliest of Chinese artists to venture into the flourished post-war American art scene — then the most avant-garde art centre in the world.

Having spent over fifty years in the US, Wong Keen registered a plethora of artistic movements and influences in the fast-paced American art scene. His pictorial language is a powerful embodiment of the elegant expressivity of Chinese ink wash aesthetics and Western inventive approach towards form and colour. In 2007, the Singapore Art Museum celebrated Wong Keen’s masterful repertoire with the solo exhibition, Wong Keen: A Singapore Abstract Expressionist. Wong Keen’s work is held in a number of private and public collections, including the National Museum of China, Minnesota State University Art Museum, Albright Knox Art Gallery, New York, Singapore Art Museum, Resorts World Sentosa and the Fullerton Hotel.


Wong Keen’s Flesh Series charts the latest development in the New York-trained artist’s prolific oeuvre, which encompasses oil, ink, acrylic, collage and mixed media works. Wong Keen first embarked on the visual discourse of flesh and meat during an artist residency in Beijing with Galerie Urs Meile in the summer of 2012. His dynamic exploration of the subject has since evolved into a magnificent chapter characterised by highly-stylised images of the burger, the butcher shop and the nude, which he dramatises through various strategies and mediums.


Wong Keen’s treatment of human flesh as synonymous with animal flesh manifests in the series as a recurring motif through which he could constantly reinvent forms and techniques to synthesise his formal explorations of two different subjects: the nude and the meat. In particular, his theme of ‘nude as meat’ was derived from an increasingly wary observation of man’s ubiquitous consumption and commodification of flesh. For instance, just as the pigs and cows raised and butchered for products, a similar cycle of violence, oppression and consumption marks the fate of women enslaved to prostitution (itself a form of flesh trade) who are likewise bound and displayed for purchase. Their mingling forms and likeness in Wong Keen's paintings illustrate their shared unfortunate state of existence. This dramatisation of flesh in form and philosophy has continued to characterise many of his works in the more recent period of 2015 - 2019, particularly his images of the burger and the butcher shop.

artcommune gallery was founded in 2009 by Singapore artist Ho Sou Ping, with a particular focus on Singapore Modern art. The gallery represents the finest and most important artists in the Singapore visual art canon, from revered pioneer masters Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Wen Hsi, to current leading painters of varying fortes including Lim Tze Peng, Ong Kim Seng, Tan Choh Tee and Wong Keen. As purveyors of the modern painting tradition, the gallery’s corporate philosophy as a social enterprise springs from a need to fill the gaps in a developing arts ecosystem in Singapore. artcommune seeks to enhance the art and cultural literacy in Singapore by enabling itself as a trusted centre for art education, acquisition and investment consultancy amongst a growing base of local and foreign art lovers and collectors. The gallery is equally committed to providing a supportive platform for young, emerging artists.


Exhibition Period

VIP Preview: Friday, 30 August 2019 | 1 - 6pm

Vernissage: Friday, 30 August 2019 | 6 - 9pm

Public Viewing: Saturday, 31 August & Sunday, 1 September, 2019 | 1 - 9pm

Venue: Jakarta Convention Center Senayan. Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto. Senayan, Gelora. Dki Jakarta 10270, Indonesia.

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