Ben Puah, Stranger in a Beautiful Land, 2017, mixed media, 30 x 30 cm. Image courtesy of the artist


Opening: 9 April 2018, 6.30 pm, with an opening performance from 6 pm
Dates: 10 April – 9 May 2018
Hours: Weekdays, 12 – 6pm and by appointment
Venue: Independent Archive, 71 Aliwal Street, #01-01, Singapore 199944
Enquiries: indiearchive@singnet.com.sg


Independent Archive (iA) is pleased to announce I LIKE HANOI AND HANOI LIKES ME, a solo exhibition by Singaporean artist Ben Puah. This series of paintings were first shown earlier this year in Hanoi, in an exhibition of the same name, held at the Art Exhibition House. In the seventeen years since Puah first fell in love with Hanoi, his perceptions and experiences of the city have been filtered through his characteristic mode of abstraction, yielding fresh perspectives of the capital of Vietnam.
Following the tradition of artists ranging beyond their home countries in search of new experiences to inform their art, Vietnam occupies the imagination of Ben Puah in a similar fashion as Bali did for Liu Kang, or the Swiss Alps for J.M.W. Turner. Rather than some fantasy of ‘going native,’ these paintings capture the tension of growing ever closer to a place while being keenly aware that one can never truly be a part of it.

Instead of melancholia, however, this asymptotic relationship finds its expression in Puah’s exuberantly vibrant brushwork. In these paintings, Puah does not confine his depictions of Hanoi and himself to straightforward resemblance. Instead, he assembles disparate fragments of sensation and symbol, reconfiguring fleeting experiences and excerpts of visual texture into new wholes, greater than the sum of their parts.

The opening will feature a durational collaborative performance of Ben Puah and iA’s founding artistic director, Lee Wen.