Thursday, 28 January // National University of Singapore, National Gallery, National River.
I wake up late and come down to a breakfast of bacon, egg, toast, papaya, guava juice, yuzu juice, and coffee. I'm still tired and sweating. Josh tells me we're going to meet his girlfriend at National University of Singapore, which he says has nice architecture and many foreigners. He's right about both. The buildings ascend infinitely. It makes me feel like NYU is a small city university in comparison. Long strands of vines hang maybe 10 stories from massive balconies high above me. We eat in the university food court. We get Chinese food. I feel nauseated and my stomach is turning before we arrive. I order only vegetables with my rice: bok choy, green beans, a light ma po do fu, and watermelon juice.
Joshua leaves me to prepare some notes before a lecture he will attend. I'm off into the city again. I stop at City Hall, near Raffles Place, and wander sweating to the National Gallery. It occupies both the old City Hall and the old Supreme Court buildings, joined by a unifying wing that was recently constructed with modern architecture. The two traditional buildings were colonial, so they inherited colonial stylistic traditions - imagine any building in Washington.
The gallery itself was quite good. I visited the exhibit Earth Work, 1979 (featuring works by Tang Da Wu). These pieces range from mineral pigment drawings to earth installations. I felt that they reflected Singapore's changing landscape of the late 70s and early 80s.
I also visited the formal complement to this exhibit, A Fact Has No Appearance, which features Johnny Manahan, Redza Piyadasa, and Tan Teng-Kee. These artists resisted traditional art forms that could be presented in galleries; instead, pushing for ephemeral work that would become a part of the cultural psyche.
I finished at the gallery after viewing the regular exhibits of historical Singaporean art. And then I met with my Indonesian friend Kanya (IG: @kanyacatya). We planned to go to Clarke Quay. And then I asked if we could go to the Merlion, since it's so close. And we got distracted by the river on the walk over. And then it started raining so we camped in a Starbucks waiting for it to stop. And then after we saw the Merlion, she had to go home to help take of her sick friend. Her friend is okay now.
Joshua's grandmother scolded me for forgetting to eat dinner. She was right. Joshua drove me to a local Hawker Centre and we got hokkien mee (prawn with noodles) and some carrot cake (which is actually made from radish). Super good.