Dancing in Unison (2021) / Singapore

St+art India Foundation, continuing its long term partnership with Singapore Tourism Board, lands for the first time in Little India, Singapore to bring to life the mural titled 'Dancing in Unison'.

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Dancing in Unison (2021) / Singapore

The piece is the result of a unique collaboration between Padma Shri recipient Bhajju Shyam and renowned Singaporean artist Sam Lo. Created on the occasion of ARTWALK 2021, it adorns now the large facade of the Broadway Hotel in Little India, Singapore.

Sam Lo giving a stencil making workshop at Lodhi Art District. by Sam LoSt+art India

Meet the Artist / Sam Lo

Sam Lo is a non-binary visual artist whose work revolves around daily observations intertwined with research into the sociopolitical climate. They use the streets as canvases to narrate these investigations, especially focusing on how our actions are interdependent on each other.

Sam Lo giving a stencil making workshop at Lodhi Art District. by Sam LoSt+art India

They use the streets as canvases to narrate these investigations, especially focusing on how our actions are interdependent on each other.

Bhajju Shyam for ‘From Craft to Contemporary’ - a month-long residency by St+art and Asian Paints. by Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Meet the Artist / Bhajju Shyam

Born and raised in the village of Patangarh in Madhya Pradesh, which is known to be the home for the Gond Pradhan indigenous tribe, Shyam is one of the primary living exponents of Gond art. He began his practice by filling colours in the works of his uncle, Jangarh Singh Shyam, one of the pioneers of Gond.

Bhajju Shyam for ‘From Craft to Contemporary’ - a month-long residency by St+art and Asian Paints. by Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Over the years, he has developed a unique style, mixing traditional folklore to stories from his travels, giving shape to a new and contemporary aesthetic for Gond Art. In 2018, he was awarded a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award given by the Republic of India every year.

Bhajju Shyam for ‘From Craft to Contemporary’ - a month-long residency by St+art and Asian Paints. by Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

The Gond Art of Patangarh

Starting as a tradition of decorating walls of homes with relief work during festivals, the art form usually draws extensively from the community's intimate relationship with their natural surroundings. 

Bhajju Shyam for ‘From Craft to Contemporary’ - a month-long residency by St+art and Asian Paints. by Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

According to the Gond belief system, each element whether a hill, a river, or a tree is inhabited by a spirit and, consequently, is sacred. All natural elements are said to have healing properties, extending to their artistic representation and it is believed that everything in the world is interconnected in inherent ways.

ARTWALK, Little India, Singapore

The Little India ARTWALK showcases the rich art and cultural diversity of the Little India precinct in Singapore. Narratives pertinent to the community are weaved through murals, public art installations, and free performances every year.

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

The theme of ARTWALK 2021 is – “In Spite Of”, where artists overcome limitations and geographical boundaries to come together to realise their creations, made possible by their passions and hope for harmony for the future.

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Dancing in Unison aptly resonates with this theme. In spite of the distance and the unprecedented moment the artists found themselves in, they explored new ways of creating and collaborating in the digital realm. Executed solely by Sam, this work bears the fruit of months of planning, and a back and forth of ideas and sketches. Together, Shyam and Lo transcended limitations and allowed individual elements to come together holistically. 

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

The mural sets itself as a symphony of traditional and contemporary visions where India, one of the oldest cultures of the world and Singapore, a modern city-state, come together under a discourse around nature, as a metaphor of what links us all together.  

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Establishing a marriage between the old and new, the mural embodies the idea that respect of the environment at large is what will guarantee our co-existence. 

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Through the mural, the artists lyrically investigate the value of nature and our relationship with it, by bringing together their perspectives, to reveal that despite varying histories and cultures, we all are interconnected.    

Dancing in Unison by Sam Lo and Bhajju ShyamSt+art India

Every feature in the work extends on this narrative. The tree - an iconic element from Gond art designed by Bhajju – engulfs the urban environment of human dwelling (personified by the windows of the building) and becomes a metaphor for our enmeshed universe.

The branches host vibrantly coloured sparrows, an element which reoccurs in Sam’s work, as a symbol of freedom, being one of the most common birds in India and Singapore.

Sam's deer serve as a tribute to Gond art, which in this gentle appropriation manifests a sense of harmony, where varying elements are seen blending together in our globalised and accessible world.

Lo further reinforces this idea by designing a red ribbon, another common element in their work, as a reminder of an omnipresent energy that connects us all, and one which connects their beliefs with those at the core of Gond Art.

Dancing in Unison, Sam Lo and Bhajju Shyam, From the collection of: St+art India
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Ultimately, this artwork and collaboration showcases the power in coexisting and breaking boundaries, and thus opens up new horizons to remind us of the healing power of art.

Dancing in Unison, Sam Lo and Bhajju Shyam, From the collection of: St+art India
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Brought to you by St+art India Foundation and Singapore Tourism Board

Credits: Story

Artwork done for Artwalk 2021 through the partnership between St-art India Foundation and Singapore Tourism Board’s regional office in India.

Exhibit by Rhea Maheshwari and Radhika Malhan

Curation: Akshat Nauriyal

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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