Arts Picks: Walking musical tour of Katong, exhibitions by Kumari Nahappan, Israfil Ridhwan

Shawn Hoo, The Straits Times, August 31, 2023

Katong Dreaming: A Musical Tour is a walking tour through nine sites of the Katong and Joo Chiat neighbourhood. PHOTO: BETEL BOX TOURS


Katong Dreaming: A Musical Tour


Put on your walking shoes and journey through the rich heritage of Katong and Joo Chiat in this unusual walking musical tour of the neighbourhood. 


Katong Dreaming: A Musical Tour, run by Betel Box Tours, returns for its second season and will take participants through nine sites along a 2km route. 


This is not the kind of tour where you are inundated with historical facts and dates.

Instead, weaving through brightly coloured terrace houses and traditional eateries, participants encounter the cultural history of the Peranakans and the neighbourhood through about two hours of song, dance, poetry and storytelling.


At the core of this project are artists Mark Tan, August Lum, Marc Nair, Valerie Lim and Jamie Lee.


No tour of Katong is complete without food and so each ticket includes a snack and beverage from Kim Choo Kueh Chang, which has been selling Peranakan cuisine since 1945.


Where: Starting point is at Rumah Kim Choo, 109-111 East Coast Road
MRT: Dakota
When: Till November, Fridays, 7.30pm; Saturdays, 4 and 7.30pm; Sundays, 4pm
Admission: $68


Dancing With The Cosmos: Three Decades Of Work From Kumari Nahappan

Many will recognise Singaporean artist Kumari Nahappan’s public sculptures inspired by spices, fruits and seeds.


The 70-year-old artist is behind works such as Pedas-Pedas (2006), a 4m-tall tall chilli sculpture displayed outside the National Museum of Singapore, and Nutmeg & Mace (2009), placed at the entrance plaza of Ion Orchard.


Her work over three decades will be on show at The Private Museum’s new premise in Upper Wilkie Road and promises to reveal another side of the artist.


Curator John Tung says: “What is interesting about the exhibition is that I have departed from the typical way in which these career surveys are organised. Rather than a chronological approach, I’ve approached all the works by colour.”


Visitors will get a chance to see over 50 works, including paintings, site-specific installations, as well as new works that have not been seen by the public.


Those who are interested to learn more can sign up for a talk by the artist and curator – on Sept 9 at 11am – through the museum’s website.


Where: The Private Museum, 11 Upper Wilkie Road
MRT: Little India/Rochor
When: Until Oct 22, weekdays, 10am to 7pm; weekends, 11am to 5pm; opening reception for public viewing on Aug 31 begins from 7.30pm
Admission: Free


Spaces In-Between by Israfil Ridhwan

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduate Israfil Ridhwan’s second solo at Cuturi Gallery comes after a year-long residency with the gallery. PHOTO: CUTURI GALLERY


Singaporean artist Israfil Ridhwan will hold his second solo exhibition at Cuturi Gallery on Saturday.


Spaces In-Between, the result of a year-long residency at Cuturi, comes on the heels of the 24-year-old’s first solo exhibition which sold out in 2021. 


This newest exhibition draws on his fascination with the male form, as his intimate, warm-hued portraits of men at rest and anonymous torsos brim with an insouciant sensuality. 


The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduate says he is influenced by a global range of genres and artists, from Renaissance painters to the American film-maker Wes Anderson.


If Touch Is What I Desire, Cut It Off (2023) is Israfil Ridhwan’s first self-portrait and references Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas (1939). PHOTO: CUTURI GALLERY


His works also often allude to motifs in Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s works. His painting If Touch Is What I Desire, Cut It Off (2023), for example, references Kahlo’s The Two Fridas (1939). 


Israfil says this is his first self-portrait, having only recently gained the confidence to render himself on his canvas. 


The difference between this exhibition and his first, Israfil says, is that he is no longer just relating the stories of his friends, but is now learning to tell his own stories on the canvas.


Where: Cuturi Gallery, 61 Aliwal Street
MRT: Bugis/Nicoll Highway
When: Saturday to Oct 1; Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12 to 7pm; Sunday, 12 to 6pm
Admission: Free


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