Founded in 2001, local Singapore gallery Utterly Art, owned by Kenneth Tan and Keng Hock Pwee, held its first exhibitions in a hotel before opening the doors to its own physical space the following year. Joining us as one of the exhibiting galleries at Affordable Art Fair Singapore (20 – 22 November, F1 Pit Building), we firstly spoke to Keng Hock about the inspiration behind his gallery, then met Andre Tan, one of the exciting local artists represented by Utterly Art.
MEET UTTERLY ART GALLERY AND ARTIST ANDRE TAN
Hi Keng Hock, what was your vision when you and Kenneth created Utterly Art?
Coming initially from experience with an art website, we wanted clients instead to be able to engage with the physical work in front of them, next to a body of work by the artist, which would give them confidence about the artist's technique and better understand his or her oeuvre. We also wanted clients to use us as a friendly resource for any queries they might have and as a sounding board for choices they might be considering. In short, we wanted clients to get the full traditional gallery experience! At the time we opened the doors to Utterly Art’s gallery space, we fortuitously became an outlet for the pent-up demand of several Singapore artists who wanted to exhibit for the first time. We helped them demystify the process and logistics of holding an exhibition, and assisted with publicity, funding and sales.
Does the gallery specialise in a genre of art?
Right now, our gallery's strengths are in watercolours and pop art, reflecting the talents of our artists. Ultimately our foundational strength is our representation of Singapore artists. Their strengths, are our strengths, and as a trusted local gallery, they often approach us. We also seek new talents out at graduation and group shows. We have no qualms about approaching young, emerging artists or artists with no formal training if their work engages us. The work we show is work we like.
What can we expect to see from Utterly Art at the upcoming Affordable Art Fair Singapore?
All of our stalwarts will be making a return of course, popular watercolourists like Aaron Gan, William Sim and Leong Chye Chye, plus best-selling pop and street artists like Andre Tan and TR853-1. We’ll also be showing our newer artists like Gabby Malpas, Tay Zhiyong and Kin. Given that there are a few months more until the fair, we’re still keeping an eye out for any talented new artists out there!
Hi Andre, how long have you been represented by Utterly Art? What does gallery representation mean to you?
This year would be my twelfth year with Utterly Art. I think trust and honesty are the key factors in a working relationship.
My focus is to hone my craft and the gallery’s job is to be the mouthpiece for my artworks. Over the past eleven years, we have established a healthy relationship based on mutual understanding and respect for each other. We work as a team.
That’s how I think a good gallery representation should work.
Can you tell us what inspires your creative practice?
I seek inspiration in F.A.M.E- Fashion, Art, Music and Everything. Daily life, random stuff I come across on TV or online, music … all documented in the form of a visual diary. I enjoy taking familiar images and icons and breaking them down to present a new perspective of interpretations. I constantly explore the aesthetics of my works by juxtaposing found imageries and try to make sensible relationships between the spaces and images so as to create a harmonious balance within the work itself. It’s the mishmash of elements that interest me. It’s always about the joy of exploring aesthetics.
Talk us through what a day in your studio looks like
A good day starts with a full stomach. Usually, I’ll plan the day ahead and go through my emails. It takes about an hour to settle down upon reaching my studio. I will either be working on the paintings or in front of my Mac working on new designs. After a good 8 -12 hours of solitary happiness, I'll pack up and head back home for dinner. Then spend the next hour or two on some family time, the internet or TV, looking at random stuff till I feel tired. The next day I wake up and repeat the whole process like clockwork. 7 days a week.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career, so far?
When my Mum took a photo of herself posing in front of my artwork, and used it as her profile pic on her social platforms. This simple gesture has meant a lot to me.
Thanks to both Keng Hock and Andre, for their insights into the lives of an Art Gallery and artist working together. To first time fair visitors joining us this Autumn, Keng Hock has provided his top three tips to get the most out of your fair experience:
1. Come prepared by making a note of all the booths whose artists catch your eye
2. Approach the galleries one by one to find out more about the artists and other works they have. This might mean visiting the fair multiple times, but bear in mind that the longer you take to make a decision, the likelier your favourite pieces might be sold off to someone else!
3. You could also persuade a more experienced collector friend to go along with you to offer opinions but keep in mind that you are the buyer and the piece must satisfy you and not anyone else!
To meet the team behind Utterly Art and see Andre’s work in person, mark your diary with the Singapore fair dates (20 – 22 November, F1 Pit Building), and to purchase your ticket, simply follow the link below.
Utterly Art stand at The Affordable Art Fair Singapore 2019
Featured art from first to last:
Pedro Garcia's opening at Utterly Art gallery
Andre Tan, Besties (S&P) #02, 2019, Mixed Media On Canvas, 2019, 122 x 122 cm, $4800, Utterly Art
Andre Tan, Kitty Rider #26, 2019, Mixed Media On Canvas, 2019, 122 x 122 cm, $4800, Utterly Art
Profile image of Andre Tan
Andre Tan, Hello Yello #05, 2019, Acrylic On Canvas, 2019, 122 x 122 cm, $4800, Utterly Art
Andre Tan in his studio