Forth Gallery presents – SLING! featuring the paintings of Kim Gravelle, a promising young French-Canadian artist currently based in Singapore.
This is Kim’s first solo exhibition in Singapore- having spent the last six years juggling between the “serious” corporate world and a strong desire to paint. Before this, he was based in Hong Kong, where he pursued a keen interest in Architecture and Theatre. His latest collection consists mainly of large-sized acrylic paintings- inspired by the array of colorful characters encountered in Singapore, where the “Sling” is a popular cocktail.
In his work, Kim uses a distinctive palette of bright colors arranged in contrasting warm & cool tones. An expressionistic/ pop style enhances the sense of drama and imparts the basic human emotions of joy, desire, fear and greed.
The main subject of his paintings is the relationship between man and woman. The woman, often depicted as a Can-Can dancer (a reference to the paintings of Lautrec and to his French heritage) occupies centre stage and “performs” while the prototypical business-man in a 3-piece suit looks on, spectator-like but introspective. The dancer’s performance is desirable but her face, tragically disfigured (as in Martini Bar) induces terror and fear. Suspense is also a consistent theme, which is enhanced by the presence of various weapons and explosives.
Kim depicts Asia as an underworld of excesses and addictions fuelled by sex, drugs and alcohol- a world where disposable income opens many a door. In Happy Birthday, a man celebrates in an open bar in the company of a Can-Can dancer, shadow puppet and mama-san. The piece highlights the tension between life’s potential and man’s desire. Loss of innocence is a consistent theme, represented by the presence of a skateboard and young woman in foetal position.
Double Happiness is another typical nightlife scene showing a wide variety of characters and cultures competing for attention. An old man is carting his young bride down the hill, past a Beauty Queen, Elvis, a street vendor and a couple entering a taxi. Observing the scene from a distance is a drunken man about to attack a plate of bacon and eggs.
Underlying a range of “dark” emotions is a light and humorous theme. In Pass the Salt, a man is flying backwards- having seemingly been hit across the face. Behind him are 3 oblivious couples getting ready for a formal dinner. In Chicken, a woman is pointing a gun at a man, while the word “Chicken” appears in the background as an illuminated signboard.
Through humor and suspense Kim’s art explores the complex world of human relationships- a world transcended by cultural and social hierarchy. By imparting the most basic human emotions, the artist highlights the wonderful drama of human life.