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Asian Artists to Watch 2024: Hilmi Johandi

Asian Artists to Watch 2024: Hilmi Johandi

Each year, we identify the Asian artists on the rise, shining a light on the exciting and provocative works enriching the region’s artistic and cultural landscape. Singaporean artist Hilmi Johandi shares his story.

How do we remember what we never knew? When is collective memory reliable? Deconstructing nostalgia, memory and the past, and all of their discontents is what occupies Hilmi Johandi. The Singaporean artist, a graduate of Lasalle College of the Arts – Goldsmiths, explores and reinterprets the familiar and symbolic in Singapore’s memories. Using archival film, photographs and prints, Johandi composes and paints fragmented montages of our past, provoking viewers to take a different look at these familiar national icons.

Artist to Watch 2024: Hilmi Johandi
Artist to Watch 2024: Hilmi Johandi

For example, in a 2018 art installation based on Singapore’s former amusement parks Happy World, Gay World and Great World, Johandi started from the premise that he’d never known these parks, which were demolished before he was even born. Yet, collective memories of these spaces continue to permeate Singaporean consciousness through nostalgic reimagining of these parks in popular culture and toponymics, resulting in fragmented memories and understandings.

Johandi’s works thus sought to convey the sense of fragmentation and question the realness of our collective memories, through impressionistic paintings of the scenes based on archival materials, and fuzzy slow-motion video installations of amusement-park structures, such as a Ferris wheel.

Hilmi Johandi, Landscapes & Paradise (III), 2019
Hilmi Johandi, Landscapes & Paradise (III), 2019

In modern societies, nostalgia often serves as a resource to idealise and romanticise a purer, simpler past. Johandi’s works, which have been exhibited in international galleries from Dubai to Japan, compel us to remove rose-tinted glasses, challenge our stories of idyll, and confront the uncomfortable tension between modernity’s demands and our desire to seek certainty in an imagined history.

(Header image: Hilmi Johandi, Monogatari II, 2014)

See Also

See our Art Basel Hong Kong coverage here.

Source: Prestige Online

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