Jahan Loh experienced art at a young age, and he hasn’t turned from it since.
The talented and adventurous artist, who is currently based in Taipei, boasts an array of vibrant and energetic works ranging from paintings and graffiti art to sculpture and 3D animation, and more.
A native Singaporean, he received his Bachelor’s degree from La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore and graduated with a Master’s degree in Design from the University of New South Wales in Australia.
He received the Singapore Press Holdings Fine Arts Scholarship in 1996, and went on to win the first Nokia Arts Award in 1999, as well as the TIAF Taipei Special Award in 2005. He has held a joint exhibition with Crashone at the Esplanade in Singapore, and he has also exhibited in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.
He recently exhibited his works at ARTSingapore 2008, an art fair held from 10 to 13 October at Suntec City , which showcased art from all over the world.
Jahan shares with City News his inspiration and the evolution of his art over time.
When and how did you start painting?
I started drawing when I was two years old with crayons and paints, so I guess that was the start.
What forms of art do you specialize in, other than painting? Which do you prefer the most and can you tell us why?
I do art in many different mediums, as I do not believe that we should restrict our expression to just acrylic, crayons and watercolor. In this modern day and age, media such as computer animation also serve as contemporary tools for our expression.
What or who is your art influenced and inspired by?
My art back then was driven by a lot of negative energies, but recently in August, after an exhibition at the 8Q (Singapore Art Museum), I was hard hit by God. Through my walk of finding God, my inspiration came through visions and prayers, and all the negativity that drove my art was changed.
How has your art evolved over time?
I guess every series of paintings that I do reflects my mental or spiritual state. Energies get transferred to the canvas when I paint, and I think more positive messages are coming through.
What are you working on currently and where are you based at the moment?
I have been based in Taipei for almost six years, and I am hoping to relocate back to Singapore next year. I am working on a few projects, one of them being the cover for the ‘Asia for Jesus’ magazine, and a new series of paintings and sculptures called ‘Babylonian Dreaming’, for my first solo art show in the ‘798 Art Space’ in Beijing.
|PHOTOS: Jahan Loh|
What is the meaning behind the image you created for the ‘Asia for Jesus’ magazine?
That image is a walk with God. Often along the way, even though we know the path, the road is not easy and smooth as the devil has laid many traps and temptations designed to bring us down. I drew that image the way I did because [it is] at ground level [where] you can have a perspective of how truly high and mighty God is, and he is symbolized in that drawing as the Holy Trinity.
What are some of the more notable companies and figures you have worked with? What about the exhibitions you have held around the world?
I worked with companies like: Vans, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Vestax, Sony and several Asian entertainers like Vanness Wu, Machi, JJ Lin, Edison Chen. I [have] exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taipei, Thailand, Beijing, Glasgow, Taipei, Korea and Singapore.
Tell us more about the exhibition of your works recently showcased at ARTSingapore 2008. How is it different from your previous works?
The art I showed at ARTSingapore was done after a very life-changing experience this September in Taipei. I was baptized in the spirit by Pastor Johnathan Chow, Pastor Philip Mantofa and Pastor Jaeson Ma after I was possessed by an evil spirit. After this experience, I had visions and a new kind of energy which took over my expression. Everything from themes, expression, concepts in these new pieces was a breakthrough from my older art. I think you can see my past art in the 8Q museum which will run till 2009.
What is the one outstanding experience or project you have encountered which left a deep impression on you and why is this so?
I think the experience I had in Taipei, as I think my eyes were really opened.
What is your motive and vision in painting? What do you aim to accomplish through it?
I think there are many different messages in my art, but most of it is how I grew as a person, and I hope that my art will inspire the people who see it and set them thinking.
Who do you attribute your success to?
God. He has been watching over me and keeping me out of harm’s way even when I did not know it.
What are some of the challenges you face as an artist and how do you overcome them?
I think that a main challenge is getting out of institutions like schools and museums and getting my art into the marketplace. Whether my art is good or bad is subjected to the demands of the art market and it’s a real challenge to get people to believe and appreciate my art. I think the main thing is to persevere.
How do you feel about the arts scene in Singapore and in what areas do we still have room to grow in, compared to the global arts scene?
Singapore is a very young nation and we are still searching for what defines our cultural identity as a nation. I think that we are slowly getting there as long as there continues to be support for the local art scene.
What projects and plans do you have coming up in the future?
The art show in the ‘798 Art Space’ in Beijing and revamping my website www.ja-han.com