When Goh Beng Kwan turned 60 in 1997, someone suggested that he stage a retrospective exhibition of his works. But the second-generation Singaporean artist thought, “I was too young”. Now, 25 years later, “I think I’m ready. I’ve worked every year and accumulated many new and old works, so now is a good time for me to do so”.
The Medan-born Goh, who turns 85 in December, has dedicated his life to art, and #GBK85 is a comprehensive solo exhibition of works produced throughout his illustrious 60-year career. Featuring 85 of his original artworks organised by period, from his early works (1950s to ’70s) to those produced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the exhibition is held across an entire floor of Conrad Centennial Singapore until May 29.
In a bid to reach out to new audiences and inspire younger generations, the show also includes 11 augmented reality (AR) works, a medium uncommon among local artists of his generation. Visitors can view the works through a mobile application developed by art platform ArtAF, which is founded by his daughter Hazeleen Goh. Both father and daughter spent the past two years working on a digital inventory system of his artworks, alongside other archival materials such as newspaper clippings and videos.
Goh has also taken to embracing new technology, with his NFT artworks minted as tokens of appreciation for guests of National Gallery Singapore’s fundraiser, Gallery Benefit, in January this year. He even has his own accounts on Instagram, and TikTok—even though he has yet to make his own videos.
“In my generation, everything seemed so easy. Today, everyone is so immersed in technology. Everybody looks at their computers, tablets and smartphone everyday—this is daily life. So for artists, we have to keep up with the times if we want our work to reach new audiences, especially the younger generation,” he opines.