Singapore Tyler Print Institute
In the heart of Robertson Quay is a hidden gem – the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI). Stretching the length of Caseen Street, it sits in a restored warehouse that fronts the Singapore River and has an unassuming shop front that reveals very little the treasures held within.
Still take its lift (or stairs) to the second floor and you will find yourself walking into a spacious gallery showcasing contemporary art pieces created by renowned artists primarily of pan Asian origins. So over the course of 10 years, STPI has held solo exhibitions by Filipino portrait painter BenCab (2006), mainland Chinese conceptual artist Zhang Wang (2012) and Singaporean celebrity photographer Russel Wong (2005), to name a few.
Yet if you had expected to see BenCab’s paintings, Wang’s conceptual art and Wong’s photographs displayed in these STPI exhibitions, you would have been in for a great surprise. Although these artists had come to STPI’s attention based on their established statue in their specialized area of art, STPI had invited each of them to a solo 6-week residency at its institute to learn about and be inspired by its print and paper making expertise.
The invited artist comes and lives on its 4th floor (where its residential quarters are sited) and gets his hands dirty in the print workshop and paper mill located in its basement, and in the process gets acquainted with the ins and outs of lithography, screen printing, intaglio, relief printing and hand-making paper.
STPI’s aim is to stretch the artist beyond his comfort zone and inspire him to collaborate with its print and paper-making team of technical experts to create new artworks.
One result of this collaboration is Russel Wong’s “Lotus Dream”: a limited edition print using mixed media, colour silk screen, lithography and gold leafing. This print enshrines Bollywood actress and Miss World 1994, Aishwarya Rai, with traditional Indian decorations as the quintessential Asian beauty.
While the artist and STPI collaborations in the early years have resulted in primarily mono- or limited edition prints (like Wong’s artwork) partnerships in recent years have resulted in a diversity of media.
Zhang Wang’s exhibition “My Universe” taps on STPI’s paper making expertise and stretches its technical team beyond its proficiency in print making – Wang wanted the team to reproduce his shattered rock fragments in metallic chrome. The results are untitled cosmic artworks solely in mixed media; encapsulating his fascination with the Big Bang.
Even then not all its exhibitions result from an artist’s residency at STPI. Occasionally it exhibits existing artwork by established artists the world over: in 2007, pieces of art from Pablo Picasso’s “The Vollard Suite” were displayed. These are his most celebrated series of etchings.
There was also Herme’s Couleurs de L’Ombre by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Presented earlier this year, it documented the prolific Japanese photographer and artist passing morning light through a crystal prism of immaculated clarity to create the subtlest variations of colour gradations onto Herme’s signature scarves.
Clearly, STPI showcases the finest of print-making the world over.
Log onto http://www.stpi.com.sg/ to stay updated on the institute’s upcoming exhibitions.
Its gallery (at 41 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238236) is also open between events to visitors interested in viewing artwork still available for sale. Visit Tuesday to Saturdays, between 10 am to 6 pm.