For the second phase of Visual Notes: Actions and Imaginings, the prep-room project sees a continued examination of modern/contemporary artist Jimmy Ong’s practice, delving into the liquid identities the artist and his constructed personas inhabit. Drawing upon the artist’s experiments in video from the 2010s, alongside a selection of Ong’s earlier study sketches, drawings, paintings, photographs, and personal effects since the 1980s, the prep-room becomes a fluid space to consider various streams: Of the colonial histories, art histories, political histories, personal histories, and mythic narratives that surface across Ong’s works, as well as their inflections across modern and contemporary temperaments.
Visual Notes continues with the notion of the preparatory study, with permeable clusters of works that posit thematic ‘studies’ for further examination. These ‘studies’ thus serve as open modes of inquiry seeking to situate Ong’s extensive practice from the 1980s to the present within broader discursive formations. The project’s subtitle takes from art historian T. K. Sabapathy’s reading of the Sitayana works made by Ong in 2010. In noting the choice of Sita from the Ramayana as subject, Sabapathy describes how such seminal characters “represent the worlds of human aspirations, actions and imaginings”; here these grand notions are both deployed and softened in Ong’s work.
Gallery impression of Jimmy Ong’s sketches in Visual Notes: Actions and Imaginings. Image courtesy of NUS Museum.