What is your name: Shi Wei Teh
Do you have a formal art education or are you a self-taught artist? From the age of 15, I knew that art is the thing that I want to do in life. So I chose to take up art as a curriculum subject in my high school days. However, I started as a painter. After high school, I entered junior college and chose to take up the art elective program which provided me with more specialized training and exposure in art. The turning point from a painter to a photographer came in my university days. As painting was not offered as a major, I chose to do photography as it was the closest to fine arts. From then on, I am hooked to it! I graduated with a Degree in Fine Arts (with Honours), majoring in Photography from Nanyang Technological Univerisity, Singapore.
What is the style of your pieces? My works always revolve around topics that are close to my heart. I am constantly reflecting on myself through deep thinking and observation of the world around me. So most of my works are a reflection of my thought process and my beliefs in life. For instance my latest work, Paths, is a reflection of my thought process of the routes and decision I sought to take in life. I also sought to push the
photographic medium beyond the two-dimensional medium, so my works always explore ways in which I could challenge the traditions of the photographic medium, bringing about a new way of seeing. I am also a
believer of the world as a family, hence my documentary works uses photography as a medium to see and understand the lives of others. In terms of aesthetics, my works are of high abstraction qualities as I was an abstract painter prior to doing photography. Hence that training influences how my art sees things!
What is the medium in which you work? I love the film medium, especially black and white films. This is
because they are highly manipulative throughout the photographic processes. I do my own developing of film and then scan them with high resolution to create digitalized images which I could work in Photoshop for further editing and compositing. This workflow suits me as the different types of photo paper can then be chosen to suit the different themes of my works.
What started you on your path as an artist? The need for self-expression. Also, strong encouragements from my mother and my high school art teacher, Mdm Yong Sok Cheng made me more determined to embark on the
route as an artist. Honestly, without their support and encouragement then, I wouldn’t have been the person I am today.
What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: One of the most important things that art has brought to my life is the ability to push myself and embark on a process of self-reflection through the creation of art works.
What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in? My favorite genre of art is painting. I love the work of abstraction expressionist like works of Jackson Pollack and contemporary chineselandscape painters like Gao Xingjian.
Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like? I usually show my works in gallery.
Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in? No particular set of clothes but it definitely has to be comfortable and cooling! I work a lot outdoors due to the nature of my work. I love being in nature! Well, but when was doing painting then, I had to wear a particular apron! It makes me feel like I’m all prepared to work!
What is the most frustrating part of being an artist? Money..
What is your favorite sandwich of all time? In Singapore, I love to eat subway but I just came back from Scandinavia, Norway’s open-face sandwich was great. I am still craving for it till now!
Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they? Yes. While working on my latest project, Paths, I was exposed to the ideas of Taoism and the way of living, which is to live life in a natural manner and achieve harmony within yourself and the external world. Such ideas made me able to face challenges in life more bravely as well as be able to take setbacks with an optimistic attitude.
Who is your favorite artist alive or dead? I love the works of Gao Xingjian. The exploration of space and tonal
qualities is amazing!
What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person? The roman sculptures that I saw in NyCalsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen was absolutely moving. The entire set collection of works was fantastic. Every part of the body builds up the intensity of the work by the detailed study of the muscular contraction and anatomy of the human body, expressing an emotional quality. As I work mainly in two-dimensional medium, the sense of all-rounded experience that I get from the three-dimensional medium while I was walking around it was so intensive and awe-inspiring. It is certainly a different experience that you get from the two-dimensional medium!
Do you have any animals and what do they think about your works? I am a vegetarian, I love animals but don’t have any pets.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us? I am currently working on a series of works that explores an alternative spatial construction inspired by the Chinese Landscape Paintings for an exhibition that will be curated by Chris Yap and would be shown in Lighteditions Gallery in Singapore and may be
involved in a touring exhibition around Asia. However, the details of the exhibition is still not confirmed. I am also a finalist for Crowbar awards 2011 but I still waiting for the final results to be out in August.