Culture / Art Republik

Not Against Interpretation: Untitled

To what extent do names and titles give meaning to art?

Dec 28, 2013 | By Staff Writer

Do names and titles attach meaning to a piece of art? For example, does knowing that painting X was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci and is titled “Mona Lisa” give the painting its significance? To a certain extent, yes. However, to what extent does a name or a title define the meaning of art?

In July 2013, the Singapore Art Museum held their second series of the “Not Against Interpretation: Untitled” exhibition. The exhibition encourages the audience to embrace open-endedness by devoting the show to untitled artwork by Singaporean artists such as Cheo Chi Hiang, Chua Ek Kay and Goh Beng Kwan amongst others.

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Angeline Choo’s Untitled or Angeline Choo’s Junk Food For Butterflies (courtesy of SAM’s Kim May). Photo: SAM

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Anthony Poon’s Untitled (Octagonal — Red/Gold) or Anthony Poon’s SMRT 2050 Map (courtesy of a museum-goer). Photo: SAM.

When viewing art, most people would study the title then associate it with the artwork after. However, this exhibition showcases a collection of drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures all titled, ‘Untitled’. As none of the works of art have a title, this exploits the ‘openness’ of contemporary art, the face that it can be interpreted in many ways and it acts as an opportunity for the audience to interpret the artworks in their own way.

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Tang Mun Kit’s Untitled or Tang Mun Kit’s Sumatran Plantation July 2013 (courtesy of a museum-goer). Photo: SAM.

The audience is also encouraged to engage with the artworks as they are invited to give their own titles to the works. After inserting the labels into slots placed beside the works, other subsequent viewers can then see the gamut of titles each work inspired. This interactive element creates a whole different experience for the audience and truly encourages the idea of open-endedness thinking in art.

The exhibition runs till 27 April 2014 at the Singapore Art Museum.

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