TODAY ONLINE (Singapore), 22 January 2016
THE COSY TYPE: ART APART FAIR
Hands down, this boutique fair has the best venue — and it’s the only ground-up local initiative of the three. Led by Rosalind Lim, Art Apart takes place at PARKROYAL on Pickering, which, is an architectural beaut in itself. Taking over almost all of the rooms on the 14th floor — where you get a nice view of the surrounding area — it’s literally a fair for “high art”. Thankfully, the prices aren’t. With works hung and placed everywhere, including inside the bathtubs and toilets, think of it as a salon-style fair gone wild. It’s the complete opposite of Art Stage and falls somewhat in the Affordable Art Fair-type (AAF) camp.
The works are mostly of the two-dimensional variety and, admittedly, the quality can be rather hit-and-miss. The paintings by Singaporean artist Rofi definitely falls in the former category and we even spotted one of recent President’s Young Talents co-winner Ezzam Rahman’s “skin art” pieces. But, in a way, the misses are balanced out by the unique experience of walking into the various rooms and stumbling across something (hopefully not in a literal sense). Another plus: You can immediately see how a painting could look in your bedroom (or toilet, for that matter).
As for crowds, well, visitorship is around 3,000 to 3,500, and the average prices of the works are around S$2,000 to S$3,000, but there are some in the three-digit range, too.
One thing it has over this year’s Art Stage, however, is its support for local art students: Around 20 of them from Nanyang Academy Of Fine Arts are showing here. All of these for an admission fee of S$10. Oh, and did we mention the views?
THE STANDARD (Hong Kong), 4 February 2015
CRUISING ALONG AT 50
Fifty may be middle-aged in human years but mere babyhood in terms of a country. And in Singapore – where SG50 is the latest to join MRT, ECP, COE and other acronyms – 50 years is just enough for its people to start becoming comfortable in their own skin.
Finding a Singaporean identity has always been a tricky task since the island state broke away from Malaysia on August 9, 1965.
The population may be predominantly Chinese but they don’t identify with the mainland (if you want to gain an enemy, ask a Chinese Singaporean “which part of China are you from?”). And though they share history and culture, they are not Malaysians.
This struggle to establish an identity is a prevalent theme in Singapore literature and art.
Malay Singaporean artist Rofi, who goes by one name, says art is “a form as identity. It’s how I want to identify myself.”
He adds: “When you say Chinese art, you already have a picture in your head of calligraphy or ink wash. Think Malay art, Indian art, Filipino art, then think Singapore art … what is the image?”
There is a need, he says, to create Singapore art that is unique to the country. One way is to harken back to Singapore’s own legends.
For his latest artworks for “APAD Presents: Once Upon A Hill,” Rofi tapped the legend of Sang Nila Utama – the Srivijayan prince who founded the Kingdom of Singapura in 1299.
One of his works, Indigo & The Forbidden Hill, is a portrait of the prince, whose name translates to Indigo Prime. The paths of Fort Canning Hill, where the prince built his palace, are superimposed on his face.
The wood-and-metal installation outside the Singapore Art Museum refers to the part when Sang Nila Utama spots a lion and decides to call the island Singapura – or Lion City.
Using legends and cultural references is a way for artists to work within Singapore’s tough censorship laws.
It looks like, after 50 years, the community has found a way to be creative but still stay within out-of-bound markers.
TODAY ONLINE (Singapore), 12 January 2015
SPOT THE ARTIST: SIX LOCAL ARTISTS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT DURING SINGAPORE ART WEEK 2015
The countdown begins for the biggest visual art bonanza to kick of the year: The Singapore Art Week. The nine-day event, organised by the National Arts Council, Singapore Tourism Board and the Economic Development Board, gets under way on Saturday and will feature more than 100 events that culminate in the three-day Art Stage Singapore fair, which opens on Jan 22. Art lovers will be spoilt for choice, not only when it comes to internationally renowned artists such as Fernando Botero and Gilbert & George, but homegrown artists as well.
Familiar and established names are set to lex their muscles, among them Suzann Victor, Jimmy Ong, Vertical Submarine, David Chan, Ruben Pang, Dawn Ng, Darren Soh and Nguan. In fact, with so many set to come out of the woodwork, we’ve decided to take a different route and shine the spotlight on a handful of under-the-radar talents well worth casting an eye on.
In 2005, Rofizano Zaino decided he wanted to take painting seriously. A graphic designer by training, the selftrained visual artist began taking part in small group shows, including annual ones by Malay arts group Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD). “I had reached a point in my career where I wanted a challenge and I wanted to do something creative without using the computer so much and answering to someone else’s brief,” said then44-year-old. He took it a step further in 2011 with his first solo show at The Substation, and the following year, another solo at Chan Hampe Galleries.
Still, Rofi admitted: “Sometimes I do feel like I’m an outsider in the art world. If you went to LASALLE or NAFA, your lecturers are practising artists. I didn’t have that.”
What he did have was a recognisable style. “Subject-wise, I’m known as an artist who does a lot of faces. Faces are my favourite subject matter. I use faces to frame the messages in my work. So when I paint a face, it’s not about creating the likeness of a person like one would do in a portrait; I’m using the face as a kind of ‘vessel’ to carry the idea I want to convey. Having a message in my work is always important to me. I think my background in branding developed a sense of delivering an idea through symbolism. I used to create logos that represented ideas. Now I do it with another form of identity, the face,” he said.
For Singapore Art Week, he’s curating the APAD group show Once Upon A Hill at Galeri Utama at Fort Canning. Seven artists will look to the site’s history in their works and Rofi himself will be presenting three pieces: An installation using salvaged wood from Fort Canning Hill, his first attempt at a sculpture and an imagined portrait of Sang Nila Utama using the map of Fort Canning Hill as the outline silhouette.
THE DAILY SENI (Malaysia), 27 December 2013
Visitors to Galeri Chandan are greeted with an entrance decorated with wire fence. This time, the exhibition features works by Malay Singaporean, Rofi, who started as a graphic designer and has spread his wings into the world of fine art. A total of 13 pieces of art work in a variety of media including charcoal, acrylic and fabric on canvas, with two pieces installed with wire link fence, adorn the walls of the gallery. These works have been featured at Hillyer Art Space, in Washington DC, USA and The Imaginarium, Georgetown, Penang, prior to coming to Galeri Chandan.
Based on the titles of the works and images presented, it appears Rofi is interested in portraiture and figurative works that inspire feelings of inner turmoil, trapped behind precise swabs of palette knives. Portraits are broken into planes like cubic fragments, that while sharp, do not create a harshness in the faces. ‘Speak Your Mind, But Mind Your Speech’ features a man seemingly suffering in the tangle of barbed wire as he is forced to be careful with his speech. ‘Guide Me’ combines the face of a Malay woman staring upwards, weaved into motifs of a batik, to appeal for God’s guidance (perhaps?).
The application of dark hues and a shiny finish resembles oil painting, but he uses acrylic paints. Nevertheless, the use of collage fabric looks quite awkward aside a well-executed acrylic treatment due to lack of surface treatment. ‘Padi’ for example, using fabric as ‘corduroy’, looks weak when viewed in person. ‘A Storm Brewing’ is the most impressive work in my mind, because the sense of anger in the face of the man is apparent under dark clouds.
’Sinking’, is also a good example of the successful use of mixed media. Swathes of acrylic on the fabric (batik) strengthens the work surface texture. ‘No Trespassing’, a close up of a pink-nosed woman with red metal plate across her lips, as if forced to be silent.
Rofi, has travelled far in the field of visual arts. In addition to his work in the collection of the Singapore Art Museum, he has had shows in the United States, Netherlands, Belgium and China.
cosmoArteTV, 5 September 2013
Transcript: (2:05 – 3:10)
His name is Rofi and he is also having an exhibition in Washington DC right now, and he’s expressing his political, social, cultural views through his mixed media paintings.
Very powerful work, very powerful... It's three-dimensional, he uses of course the metal fence which when you see in person you actually get a great sense of what it is that he's doing. It doesn’t always translate well on images but in person it's more striking. And of course, it's about one's ability to be able to communicate and not be silenced. It's about censorship, very much, (and democracy)... absolutely.
ANGELA DI BELLO
Director, Agora Gallery
THE WASHINGTON POST ONLINE, 20 July 2013
Rofi’s show is titled ‘Psyche’, but he seems most interested in the surfaces of the human countenance. The Singapore artist boldly divides faces into a series of planes, although he doesn’t distort their geometry with cubist vehemence. The starkest aspect of his work comes from mixed-media additions, including metal shards, barbed wire and the newspaper that obscures the top of one subject’s head. The menace in these works comes not from Rofi’s palette knife, but from external forces the artist doesn’t (or perhaps can’t) fully depict.