Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple ideas to enjoy the exhibition "Dreams and Reality" better

Special thanks to the generosity of the National Heritage Board and the National Museum of Singapore, a few fellow bloggers and myself was treated to a guided tour to the current blockbuster exhibition, Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, held at the National Museum of Singapore on 20 Nov 2011. Credits also go to Ms Belinda Tan and Shaun from National Heritage Board for making this visit possible.

With an overwhelming number of more than 140 paintings, photographs and drawings from the collection of the world renowned Musée d’Orsay, an art museum in France, what could a visitor do to better appreciate this exhibition?

In this post, I shall attempt to share some suggestions that may guide a visitor, especially one who is totally new to visual art, to enjoy this exhibition like a seasoned visual art-lover.

Suggestion #1: Attend one of the free guided tours.
Guided tours to the exhibition are available. (Admission fee to the exhibition applies.) During one of these guided tours, the well-trained volunteer guide will take the participants for an one-hour walk-through of the exhibition. During the tour, some of the most interesting and important works in the exhibition will be highlighted and discussed.

To check the schedules for the free guided tour please visit this link or check with the museum's Visitor Services Counter when you purchase your admission tickets to the exhibition.

During my recent visit to this exhibition, our volunteer guide, Ms Elaine Tan, gave us a very informative tour. I left the exhibition with more understanding of many of the artists and the artworks.

Suggestion #2: Rent one of the audio guides.
Some of the times, there may simply be no available guided tours during our visit. The audio guides to the exhibition that are available for hire are equally wonderful alternatives.

For S$3, the audio guide will give the visitor an overview of the exhibition. In addition. the audio guide will give the visitor a good introduction to thirty of the works from the exhibition. The best thing is that the visitor can listen to the audio guides at his own pace and for as many times he would like during his visit. One thing that I like about the audio guide is that the pronunciation of all the French names and terms sounds pretty authentic.

Suggestion #3: Walk through the entire exhibition. Identify your favourite painting. Learn more about it.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night.

One of my favourite paintings is Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. One of the ways to appreciate this painting is to look at this work from various distances and angles.

Take a closer look at the upper half of this painting and one will realize that Vincent Van Gogh had applied very thick paints in horizontal fashion when he painted the skies.

Interestingly, Vincent Van Gogh used a different kind of brush-works when he painted the reflections of the gas lighting on the surface of the river. Did you notice that the brushstrokes were more fine and less broad compared to those used to paint the skies?

Thanks to technology, with the use of search engines such as Google, we can learn more about the painting of  our choice, and about the artist behind the works. Here are some of the related links to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night:

Suggestion #4: Read the reference materials provided
The organizers of this exhibition were very thoughtful and provided a number of reference materials for visitors to browse and read. These materials can be found near the exit of the exhibition halls.

Visitors are also invited to draw an impression of their favourite art work from the exhibition and share it with their friends and loved ones.

Suggestion #5: Choose an artist whose artwork has caught your liking. Search the entire exhibition for other works by this very artist. Compare the similarities and differences in the various artworks by this artist.
I have combed the entire exhibition and there appears to be only one work by Vincent Van Gogh.

So I chose another painting that I like. Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right by Claude Monet is one of the other paintings that I like. This painting was painted in 1886.

Monet's Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right

The next step is to walk about the entire exhibition to look for paintings by Claude Monet. Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionism art movement. Some of the characteristics of this 19th-century art movement are the emphasis on the depiction of light in its changing qualities, the depiction of ordinary subject matter and the use of unusual visual angles.

I have found that there were at least five paintings by Claude Monet that were exhibited at this exhibition. It is interesting to compare and take note of the differences and similarities in the various paintings by Claude Monet.

Monet's Portrait of Madame Gaudibert.

For example, the brush strokes in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right are comparatively more thin and visible than those found in Portrait of Madame Gaudibert. 

Monet's Camille on her deathbed

Monet's Camille on her deathbed depicted Monet's first wife, Camille-Leonie Doncieux Monet, at her deathbed. She died at the age of 32 years old from cancer.

In terms of the choice of colours, the colours used in Camille on her deathbed are comparatively more dull and darker compared to the colours used in Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

Monet's Boats: Regatta at Argenteull, 1874.

Monet's Branch of the Seine near Giverny, 1897.

I find Monet's landscape paintings to be visually pleasing. After viewing his works at a distance, it often helps to take a closer look at Monet's works to get a better glimpse of how he created beautiful works of art using seemingly visible and rapid brush strokes.

We have come to the end of this post, may you find yourself armed with a few suggestions on how you can better enjoy Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris as if you were an informed visitor.

If you have yet to visit this blockbuster art exhibition, please make some time to do so by 5 Feb 2012!

Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Till 5 Feb 2012.
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $11 including SISTIC charges
Ticket Bookings: SISTIC counters nationwide
SISTIC hotline: (65)6348 5555
SISTIC online booking:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Budak Pantai at The Republic Cultural Centre

The Republic Cultural Centre

Budak Pantai - The Concert that Puts Hair on Your Chest (Women are Welcome)
Dates: 16 and 17 Nov 2011
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Venue: The Republic Cultural Centre, Studio, Singapore.
Tickets at S$20 each

Raving reviews about the local A Cappella group, Budak Pantai, has prompted me to accept an invitation to a concert that claims to "put hair on your chest". I was trying very hard to figure out what the concert title would mean only to conclude that I should not take myself too seriously.

Listening to Budak Pantai (which means "Beach Boys" in Malay) was very entertaining and musically pleasing to the ears. In this concert, there is a theme of nostalgia with modern twists. It was my very first time listening to Budak Pantai live.

Magically, their charming and rich voices that harmonize in perfect harmony won my full delightful attention. Before the concert, I was ambivalent if I would like the concert. After the concert, I dare say that Budak Pantai has the magical factors to be one of the A Cappella groups to listen to.

I later learnt that members of Budak Pantai have been singing in perfect harmony with one another since 1994. The group continued singing after winning the television "Rollin' Good Times" Beach Boys contest that year.

What are some of Budak Pantai's magical factors?

In my humble opinion, these are:
1) the members' love for good music.
2) each member capitalizes well on their strengths and expresses these strengths creatively through their performances.
3) the group's infectious and interesting sense of humour.

This concert opens with an opening act by the Republic Polytechnic's A Cappella interest group - Rhapsody. I learnt that these students had the privilege to exchange learning points with Budak Pantai. I thought that such collaborations were great ways to encourage a community of music lovers to exchange and sustain the art of making good music.

The Republic Cultural Centre, which is the venue of the concert, is also worth a good mention. It is envisioned to be the cultural hub in the North and is a home to 26 student arts group. The facilities look excellent, and I hope I could visit The Republic Cultural Centre again in the future.

For your easy references, please find the links to the websites of Budak Pantai and The Republic Cultural Centre here:

Special thanks to Budak Pantai for the invitation, and to Marcia Tan and Belinda Tan for making the invitation possible.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Musée d'Orsay travels to Singapore

This is the time to be inspired by some of the collections from the world renowned Musée d'Orsay, right in Singapore. More than 140 paintings, photographs and drawings from the collection of Musée d'Orsay, Paris, are now exhibited at the National Museum of Singapore.

Students studying Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.

The pleasure of being able to see the masterpieces personally is very inspiring. I was inspired to study one of the highlights of the exhibition, Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, that I could not help but to visit the exhibition thrice in a span of a week. Each visit, I took time to study the ingenious brush-works, the apt choice of colours and the interesting composition used by Vincent van Gogh.

Other highlights of the exhibition include Paul Cezanne's The Card Players and Alexandre Cabanel's The Birth of Venus. The sense of permanence and froze-like character in the former left a strong impression in me while the fine brush-works in the latter intrigued me.

On the left: Paul Cezanne's The Cardplayers.

I was also particularly drawn to the paintings by Claude Monet, particularly Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

Claude Monet's Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol Looking to the Right.

This exhibition is titled Dreams and Reality – Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, and explores the reaction of man towards the rapid changes towards modernity at the turn of the century from 1848 to 1912.

If you like art or simply wish to expose yourself to masterpieces by brilliant artists, this is the exhibition to attend. Till 5 Feb 2012, at the National Museum of Singapore.

To enhance your appreciation of the artworks, consider renting one of the audio guides for $3.
Dreams and Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $11 including SISTIC charges
Ticket Bookings: SISTIC counters nationwide
SISTIC hotline: (65)6348 5555
SISTIC online booking: