Not to romanticise the profession, but artists make for strange bedfellows sometimes. Rarely do we meet artists who are the revealing sort, who are prone to articulating their creative impulses or even intentions when a question is put forward. Yet, the biography of an artist, or at best the understanding of his or her artistic persona is intrinsic to the understanding of an artist's practice.
Enter the Proust Questionnaire, a personality test popularised by the French essayist and novelist, Marcel Proust in the 19th century. The idea, which came to us as randomly as would be suggested, is to invite artists to fill out answers for our abridged version of the famed questionnaire, and see what surprising insights might be revealed of them!
In this issue, we catch up quickly with the artist Benny Teo on his latest developments. It has been exactly a year since Benny staged his solo exhibition,Picking up Fallen Leaves with us. What has changed since, and what are his current preoccupations?
Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A: I don’t believe in the idea of perfect happiness.
Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Q: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
A: Having no control of your own life.
Q: What is your current state of mind?
A: Exhaustively energetic.
Q: Your recent works display a bolder use of colours as compared to those we have seen from your previous series, Picking up Fallen Leaves - would this be the new direction in your next part of the career?
A: The things around me or any decisions made throughout the day can shape my direction. Colours is just part of the change. Things like what you see at that moment, a book you read, the state of emotions or even the stranger sitting beside you.. certain actions may ignite or affect the changes too. For my new series, I will be reflecting on the balance between space, movement and rhythm in my paintings. Right now I am more of experimenting and also giving myself allowance to making errors, but on the overall I'm always trying to explore painting in an honest and straightforward way.
Born 1988 in Singapore, Benny Teo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore in 2013. His work has been featured in several group exhibitions, including Roadless Travelled, German Centre, Singapore (2013); SPOT ART, MICA Building, Singapore (2013); DRIVE - A Gillman Barracks Public Art Festival, Singapore (2014); Art of Our City: Singapore Young Artists, The Art Space@ SUNTEC, Singapore (2015); and Presence and Distances, Flaneur Gallery, Singapore (2015), among others.
Picking up Fallen Leaves (2017) gestures toward a new beginning in Benny's artistic exploration. Through a heavy palette rich in tonal expansion and provocative brushwork that oscillates between a fluid, searching spirit and a bold, agitated character, Benny's work captivates with its honest pursuit of emotions, both raw and controlled; feelings and desires, freedom and entanglement translate into compelling interactions in pictorial space.
Q&A with Benny Teo