Ben Puah

INSTINC' Square Invasions 50cm by 50cm Painting Competition 2011

INSTINC Prize winner : Ben Puah 

was awarded one month residency in LW44, Munich Germany.

The Ten Brothers project exhibition is made possible with the support of Singapore Internationale Foundation, LW44 and INSTINC.

For this exhibition, Ben Puah presented a painting titled: Cooking the Merlion where he take inspiration from the chinese legend "Ten Brothers" and added a humourous touch in response to issues in the society. He reinterpret this to go parallel with our this globalised world that we experience and live. By doing so, Ben placed himself in both real and unreal situation to seek unexpected possibilities for the work, with opinions from the audience that could possibly create an interesting conflicts that goes beyond the canvas surface.


On his experience at LW44 in Munich 


What was your most memorable experience at LW44 in Munich? 


This can be said to be my first exhibition in Europe and this trip to Munich was an eye opener for me. LW44 was a wonderful space that is rare in Singapore where you can have a lodging space, studio working space and an exhibiting space together which is fantastic.


Did having a lodging, studio and exhibiting space all combined into one influence your artwork in any specific way? Or did you enjoy the experience greatly because you were able to access your artwork 24/7? 


Yes I think it is very convenient to have your living and working space under the same roof, which I would also want to have in Singapore if I have the ability. So that one can quickly work on your art whenever inspirations come. 


So it was your first time travelling to Munich? How long did you stay there? 


Yes, this is my first time to Munich. I stayed for nearly a month in this trip.


Was there anything that struck you as being very different or strange? Or very interesting? 


I guess the only thing that was different is the living style because it is very different from Asia where I come from, so I needed to adjust in terms of food and communicating due to language differences, as German is widely spoken there. I love the architecture there, especially the churches which are hundreds of years old and which I won't experience in Singapore as our nation is pretty young. As for the rest, nothing was strange for me.


What would a typical or average day in Munich during your residency be like for you? 


For the first week in the trip, I would get my breakfast and then start working on my painting, have a lunch time break, continue painting, and stop work by dinner time. The second week was the start of my exhibition and I got to know new friends from the arts and to understand their working conditions in Munich. Some days, I would have a walking tour around Munich to experience this new city. 


Did you make a lot of new artworks and new friends during your time there? 


I created and presented one huge painting measuring 6m long for the exhibition. And I made some new friends in Munich.


How was your opening?


The exhibition opening went well with guests asking me about my presented painting and we had great constructive exchanges of views.


Were there any challenges that you faced while in Munich?

As English is not a widely spoken language there, there is bound to be a gap but it can be interesting in other ways. Overall everything seemed fine.


So did the language gap make you feel a little bit like an observer? 


Yes, it did in a way.


Did you discover anything interesting because of the language gap? 


As long as one learns to open up and doesn’t see this as a disadvantage, one can see the good in being an observer, and see things from different angles.


What did you enjoy most about the whole experience? 


The visiting of various old churches in Munich, and relaxing by the rivers at times.


Any insights from your time there that you think will also be beneficial for other artists or arts organisations here in Singapore? 


I think one needs to open up so as to absorb new things, people, culture and arts in a foreign land. It’s not necessary to be attracted or influenced by them but they can be interesting inputs for one's creative pursuits.


Has Munich or LW44 influenced your new artworks?


I think Munich, LW44 did have an impact on the way I work on my art, on my working process. I believe it is the relaxing pace I felt over there. 


What are your new inspirations from the journey there? 


I don't know how to put it, but I am inspired to explore other cities in Germany if given the opportunity in the future, so as to have a greater picture of Germany.


What has changed for you after you came back from Munich? 


I am still me, the same me.