Morning Noodles & Gossip At The Toapayoh Hawker Centre

ZoyaChaudhary_MorningNoodles&GossipAtTheToapayohHawkerCentre_2018_MixedMedia_76cmx76cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper

The ritual of getting together at a neighbourhood Hawker centre and having a meal with family, friends and neighbours, make the Hawker centres more like a community gathering space. People having meals together in the same place and sharing their lives with their community, over decades, make the hawker centres a very important part of the Singaporean culture. Studies have shown, that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. Retired elderly people specially depend on these spaces for their social interactions, sometimes spending their entire day there. The older Hawker centres that take up large areas of land currently, have a bleak chance of surviving in the changing landscape of Singapore. Many centres have been moved inside malls that don’t encourage the same culture.

The artwork juxtaposes press articles on hawker food, which is one of the major discussions points amongst people living in Singapore, with a scene of people gathered and chatting together at a Hawker Centre.

Telling Of Fortunes At Waterloo ST

ZoyaChaudhary_TellingOfFortunesAtWaterlooST_61cmx46cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint papers 46cm x 61cm

The Waterloo Street landmarks include the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, Sri Krishna Temple and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple. Religious buildings line this street, reflecting the multicultural community that Singapore is. Being a small city state, with its Chinese, Malay, Tamils & people with many varied ethnic backgrounds, Singapore makes a very conscious effort in maintaining the harmony of the island, while each race is encouraged to preserve and practice its unique culture and traditions. 

This is the artist’s depiction of a fortune teller, peacefully napping in his street office, while all the various elements of the artwork manage to maintain a quiet balance.

Xiangqi Players and the Sleeping Champion

ZoyaChaudhary_Xiangqi(ChineseChess)PlayersAndTheSleepingChampion_2017_MixedMedia_61cmx46cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper, 46cm x 61cm

People who haven’t ventured into the smaller streets and hidden alleyways of Singapore, rarely get to witness these scenes. In the times of online and virtual gaming, this painting gives us a peek into the vanishing traditional gaming culture of Singapore.

Thinking Tamil, Talking Singlish, Eating Chinese

ZoyaChaudhary_ThinkingTamil,TalkingSinglish,EatingChinese_2017_MixedMedia_61cmx46cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper, 46cm x 61cm

This is a mundane, ordinary scene of a corner in Tekka Market, Little India, with a little Taoist shrine in the background, where people of different ethnicity, hang out together. In its contrast lies the essence of this composition, where each element brings its unique cultural texture, yet providing a sense of balance and connection.

Choices Between the Many Reds

ZoyaChaudhary_ChoicesBetweentheManyReds-_2018_MixedMedia_76cmx76cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper 76cm x 76cm

The Straits times press articles collaged with this painting, are a preview on leaders of Singapore ruling party, their strengths and weaknesses. The title, ‘Choices between the many reds’  and the imagery of a girl in China town market filled with red lanterns, are a metaphorical representation of a citizen and the state.

Hues of Koon Seng Rd

ZoyaChaudhary_HuesofKoonSengRd_2017_MixedMedia_61cmx46cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper, 46cm x 61cm

Koon Seng road is one of the few by-lanes of Singapore where you can visualise what old Singapore looked like. These Peranakan style homes and shophouses are an escape into the past in modern day Singapore. In this artwork, collaged newsprint with shophouses as the background, the old tri rickshaw rider, the pedestrian and the young girl on her bike, form different layers almost placed one on top of the other forming a whole, though, if placed separately would represent a different decade from the other.

Kopi Gu You At Heap Seng Leong

ZoyaChaudhary_KopiGuYouAtHeapSengLeong_2017_MixedMedia_92cmx61cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper, 61cm x 92cm

The ‘Heap Seng Leong’ coffee shop has stood at this location in Lavender since 1974.  With its 1950s kopitiam setting, with no false ceiling and a coin operated payphone, it as if time has stood still here, while everything else outside has moved on and been modernised. The artwork is an attempt to preserve this tiny little part of history in the visual memory of Singapore.

Once Upon A Shop in Singapore

ZoyaChaudhary_OnceUponAShop...inSingapore_2017_MixedMedia_61cmx46cm(sm)Acrylic on canvas with collaged newsprint paper 46cm x 61cm

Mareara Trading Co, which recently closed down, was an old school shop which sold toys, hand made by the owner Mr Seow himself. This shop was one of its kind, trying to stay in business among digital games and hi-tech branded toys and global giants like Toys R Us. The artwork is an attempt to keep alive the memory of these small wonders of Singapore, that otherwise might not be important enough to be remembered. It is painted on collaged news print articles about small shops & traders struggling to survive in Singapore.

Lost And Found- Singapore

‘Lost & Found- Singapore’

Artist Zoya Chaudhary has been interested in the visual documentation and celebration of the local character and flavor of places. There is a realization that this character is quickly being lost.

To sell global products, media also sells ideas, often one-sided, and creates unjustifiable fascinations with ways of life that hardly represents a natural progression for many vanishing cultures and communities around the world.

The artist in her current series, tries to explore Singapore stories from her point of view, digging for cultural references and then juxtaposing them to form a seamless visual. According to the artist, her mind collects and pieces together facts and figures, visuals, news and content, to make sense of places, people or situations. She thinks of herself as a visual writer, who puts together a scene to represent the story.

Life as an expat artist living in Singapore is like ‘living in a bubble’, the artist explains. She further explains that living in expat condos and moving around international schools, clubs, malls, watching western shows and global news can make one feel completely disconnected from the local community in any place. The newspaper and media is the only source of knowing what goes on in the local community. Thus the newspaper articles, as a material, form a key part of the narrative. She uses relevant newspaper articles as one of her mediums to construct the imagery. She says she has explored many parts of the city, first by reading about them, and then exploring those places physically.

Acrylic paints & Straits Times newspaper articles stuck and treated with mediums and varnish, form the primary materials used to create the artworks.

In her series ‘Lost & found- Singapore’, she depicts everyday scenes from various parts of Singapore, that have a very local flavor to them. Some of the works show places that have very recently been closed down.