STPI x The Corner Shop

Jimmy Ong: SGD


Veritas Branding & Marketing Pte Ltd, 2010, 23 pp

Jimmy Ong, Singapore’s most coveted artist returned from New York, to see this country where he grew up transforming into something unrecognisable. His exhibition “SGD” at STPI, is a flipside commentary on Singapore’s characteristics of material wealth, achievement and good governance. The bold forms and colours of cosmopolitan Singapore in “SGD” is a departure from Ong’s last seen monochromatic series “Farquhar Descending”, depicting colonial Singapore. “When I arrived at STPI in August with National Day celebrations at its height, my head was filled with grandiose ideas of patriotism, and the excitement of returning home, all of which I was eager to explore in my works” said Ong.

What he eventually created was less adulation than a reckoning of his own personal relationship with the country and the architect of its economic success, Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew. In proposing the use of an alternative iconic face on the dollar bill other than Yusof Ishak, Ong selected an image of Mr Lee before 1965 – the year Singapore gained independence, and the artist “processed” an image of power through the mechanical separation of colours for printing.

STPI Director, Emi Eu said, “Ong’s new works offer poignant, personal reflections of home and his residency at STPI opened new doors to unexplored technical and thematic territories. This will mark a milestone in Singapore’s visual art history.”

With texts by Sor Ching Low and Peter Lee.

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