The Artist Of Everyday Things

T Singapore: The New York Times Style Magazine|July 2020

The Artist Of Everyday Things
The artist Leow Wei Li paints pictures using ordinary household materials and ingredients, navigating the intersections of art and the Singaporean identity in the process.
Terence Poh

While Singaporeans collectively retreated to their homes (or embraced “circuit breaker,” as the nation terms it) in April this year to contain the spread of Covid-19, the artist Leow Wei Li had been doing so since 2019, working from her home studio. When people were beginning to innovate myriad ways to live life wholly in confinement, she had already found ways to work with things in the household and created pictures out of them. She brings her latest body of work, “Homemade,” to show at SPRMRKT at Dempsey Hill, an upmarket, contemporary café-restaurant founded upon converging culinary craft with retail, art and culture.

The “Homemade” series of mixed-media paintings takes ordinary household materials and ingredients and cements them onto a wooden canvas — like jam on toast — to “trace the labour of love and methods of care that go into shaping the daily lives of everyday Singaporeans.”

“I usually visit art stores for my materials,” Leow says, “but for this series I was checking out places selling day-to-day necessities near my home in Woodlands.” She foraged for things that mean something in places as mundane as the kitchen, toilet or storeroom, and on trips to supermarkets and grocery stores. “The more I welcomed these domestic items into my studio, the more I discovered their character, qualities, and what they mean to me,” says Leow. “My curiosity to know and explore them led to the final work.”

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July 2020