art

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’ by Annie Leibovitz

A part of a project that began over 15 years ago visits Singapore on its global tour.

An exuberant and vivid celebration of women and womanhood, these are Ms Leibovitz’s portraits of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs.

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The venue is an art deco building, a national monument and a former railway station (1932 to 2011) and it stands slightly derelict and unoccupied; signs of neglect evident.

Four reliefs of white marble by Angelo Vannetti – allegories of Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport – grace the exterior.

It is overcast; a grey evening of rain-sodden clouds heightening an awareness of somber abandon. This once was the nucleus of urban life, a buzz that is now a fading echo in the memories of those who remember.

The photographs speak for themselves and Ms. Leibovitz needs no introduction. But the choice of venue is intriguing and perhaps a part of the exhibition. By occupying a relinquished space, the focal point perhaps is the recognition of enduring strength everywhere, be it the woman, the architecture or the experience.

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But inside, inside are vivid images, radiant with colour, bold and strong in subject and presentation.

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The space is cavernous, ill-lit (or perhaps it is the evening); chairs scattered around for leisurely viewing and contemplation.

Grime and cobwebs grace the walls, disappearing into the dimness.

But one doesn’t notice this at all. One is rapt, subsumed.

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Viewers become part of the exhibition, unwittingly creating compositions within frames.

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Erstwhile offices, lamp-lit, offer an extension of the viewing experience and visitors make their way from room to room, a part of the subtle play of light and colour, the past and the now, of the experience.

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All photographs (of photographs and others) by A A Thomas.

 

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