Joel Yuen

Joel recently bagged the 27th UOB Painting of the Year competition with his body of work, Anatomical Fantasies of Meat. This generated quite a big wave of debate within our little island, where many felt that a photograph should not win the competition and that they are too grisly to be considered art. Parallels were drawn with Damien Hirst, but conceptually, they are very different.

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TOP TO BOTTOM, (from “Anatomical Fantasies of Meat“)
© Joel Yuen, 2007

Frankly speaking, I think these set of work is amazing. The prints are even more breathtaking (and they are available in limited editions at 2902 Gallery). Being the unprecedented winner with a photographic work in a stuffy “painting” competition, he has helped pave the way for the elevation of photography’s status, here in Singapore.

And I say, it’s about time! It’s beneficial on many folds – our society needs to lighten up and to be educated that photography goes beyond happy snapshots and glitzy fashion shoots. The general public recoils at anything that deviates from the mainstream, often not engaging art on a higher cerebral level. We need greater traffic flow at our exhibitions, we need people to look and go beyond the surface.

But of course, this is coming from a cranky guy with a migraine in the morning. I’m sure things are slowly changing and people are opening up. I shall leave this hanging here while I go visit the doctor for my pills. Anyway, congrats to Joel once again, I do hope he doesn’t melt under the pressure of controversy.