Bankers Want Art And Artists Want Money

From the steady work as architects to the uncertain canvas of art, Liang-Gek Cheng reflects on what inspired her switch By S. Sakthivel

As career switches go, Cheng made the big one after she had put some cash away. She knew what she wanted to do, but didn’t want to be painted into a corner, so after completing art school in 1990, she spent the next couple of decades pursuing a career in architecture.

She returned to her artistic roots in 2011.

“I needed to make a living, and practising art here was not the most profitable thing to do in those days,” she recalls. With the pressures of a mortgage and raising a family out of the way, Cheng has now made a “late career switch” with the aim of becoming a successful painter.

While she may have been on self-imposed sabbatical from the art world, she has kept a keen eye on developments in this world.


Art And Money
She notes that art, in recent years, has become increasingly commoditised. With more people spending money on art and it being viewed as an alternative investment choice, Cheng says the adverse effects of the influx of money in local art is often not addressed.

“There are certain types of art that people like, and that can sometimes subconsciously restrict the ideas and thought processes of the artist,” she explains. She does, however, concede that such influences are unavoidable, and just part and parcel of the art world today. At the very least, Cheng feels that the increasing interest would do some good for the scene in the short and middle term.

“Funny thing is, bankers are always talking about art and artists are always talking about money these days,” she concludes with a laugh.

Cheng is also not swayed by new-fangled techniques, with multi-medium, multi-platform art coming into the mainstream in recent years. She laments that contemporary art has also become synonymous with the use of technology to convey stories, and to provide “immersive experiences”.

Art Telling Stories
“There is a lot of smoke and mirrors used, but maybe it lacks depth,” she declares.

Much is done to awe audiences and grab their attention, but Cheng suggests that it might be wiser to “teach people how to look at and appreciate art” to build a more stable audience.

Cheng’s work, mostly pastoral scenes, draws inspiration from mythical themes and from her childhood in early Singapore. She hopes that audiences will be moved by the stories they have to tell.

You can find her work, together with that of four other artists, at the Urban-G Exhibition at the ION Gallery.

Urban-G Exhibition
26-31 October 2016
10am – 9pm
ION Gallery, 4th Floor, The ION

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