I was struggling to digest all these extraordinary images, then I came across this one..
What the heck is an old man doing sucking on a lady’s breast while a giggling child looks on??????
Apparently this all has something to do with Chinese mythology, even though none of the above scenes came with any explanation provided. Fortunately the gruesome depictions of hell were clearly labelled, so we know for example that being disrespectful to one’s elders will result in having one’s heart cut out, so watch out kids!
The Haw Par Villa park was built on the outskirts of Singapore in 1937 by the brothers who came up with the Tiger Balm ointment, and decided that they should allocate a part of their fortune made to promoting Chinese culture. Back in the day, the park used to be a real hit with locals and tourists, a sort of low tech precursor to Disneyland. As the appeal of late 30s Art Deco kitch wore off and the local tourism board. started charging high entrance fees, people stopped coming. Even though the entrance is now free, visitor numbers are still on the wane and there are rumours of the park being closed, with the (mis)management reportedly incurring a loss 31.5 million dollars over 10 years.
While I was there a schoolgirl asked me a couple of questions for a survey about how to improve the park while her friend furiously wrote the answers down. One question where I think she hit the nail on head was “do you find the statues.. well, a bit creepy?”. “Creepy” would be the right word, I mean even the most “normal” statues I could find in the park like these pandas had creepy facial expressions:
And if anyone has any idea what the statue of liberty was doing there, please email me!
Another spot off the beaten track I visited in Singapore was the Ritz Carlton hotel, which houses a collection of 4,200 pieces of modern art valued at around 5 million dollars. The hotel entrance itself is not particularly obvious for pedestrians but it’s worth a look, even if you don’t have a particularly strong attraction to contemporary art like me, but rather just to marvel at the fact that paintings and prints worth crazy ammounts of money are allowed to be left unattended and ignored in far corners of basement rooms.
According to this link, a similar limited edition Warhol print to the ones above sold online recently for over a million bucks.
At the entrance, someone thought it was a good idea to hang a Frank Stella sculpture of three tonnes of fibreglass dangling over everybody’s head in the lobby. It didn’t make me very comfortable standing underneath it..