Brunei teacher to showcase creative works in Singapore

National 2 minutes, 52 seconds


ART teacher Faizal Hamdan will be the first Bruneian to exhibit his artwork at the Singapore Biennale 2016 (SB2016) this October 27.

The SB2016 is one of Asia’s most exciting contemporary visual art exhibitions organised by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM).

The exhibition will carry the theme ‘An Atlas of Mirrors’ which will be explained through nine curatorial sub-themes.

Faizal’s work, along with Nobuaki Takekawa’s from Japan will focus on the sub-theme of National and Cultural Identities as well as personal memories.

From the personal to the communal, from ethnicity to gender and from the cultural to the national, the concept and formation of ‘identity’ is constantly changing, mutable and entangled, read the SB2016 release.

Faizal will be exhibiting a two-channel video projection titled ‘Dollah Jawa’ edited by constructivistworks.brunei.

The projection will proffer the intersection of dual histories: macro and micro. Faizal said the video projection will portray his grandfather’s life story; who was one of the many Javanese forcefully expatriated to Brunei during the Second World War by the Imperial Japanese Army.

After the occupation ended, his grandfather stayed in the country, married a local and raised a family. His work will engage the neglected history of forced migration in Southeast Asia during the war and his personal family history.

Faizal said one side of the projection will feature photographs of his grandfather as well as fragments of scribbled notes found on the back of the photographs. Meanwhile the other side will show images from the Japanese Occupation including scenes of the arrival of the Japanese troops in the sultanate and the late Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin with the occupying forces.

“The artwork reflects me. I am the product of this fusion,” said the 41 year old who started working on ‘Dollah Jawa’ in February this year.

“I am very grateful (for the opportunity) to represent Brunei and feel lucky to exhibit my artwork outside of the country,” adding that he hopes to achieve new experiences through the SB2016. Faizal has been an art teacher for 10 years and has produced more than 100 artworks. He hopes the country will have a permanent gallery or national gallery to provide a platform and outlet for local artists to display their artwork as well as express themselves.

Louis Ho, Curator at Singapore Art Museum and one of the nine curators of the Singapore Biennale said Faizal’s practice is unique within the broader ecology of contemporary art in Brunei.

“We invited him to submit a proposal, based on the strength of his existing oeuvre. His work is both materially and conceptually engaged and very much speaks to his personal background.”

Ho said it was important for the curatorial team that artists selected for this edition of the Singapore Biennale, who hail from the region, to bring to their projects an acute sense of the specific socio-historical position of Southeast Asia.

“The curatorial team considered one or two other artists (from Brunei) but from the outset, Faizal was a very strong contender, as he was also one of the Bruneian artists longlisted for the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize in 2014 organised by the SAM.”

“We were aware of his practice, and were keen to see how he would respond to the theme of ‘An Atlas of Mirrors’,” he added. The SB2016 exhibition will present 60 artworks that respond to the theme ‘An Atlas of Mirrors’, including 49 newly commissioned and adapted artworks.

The Brunei Times