Most people find themselves having to separate their passion from their professional life. But not Faris. By day, you can find him in the operations department of the Singapore Art Museum, giving tours at the museum’s temporary exhibits. But most art aficionados recognise him as a prolific name known for his architecturally driven works – boasting sold-out shows at S.E.A Focus and Richard Koh Fine Arts on his resume.
My works focus on that element of discovery. Visually, some parts of my artworks are hidden – there are parts you don’t quite get to see in the 2-D space. They don’t photograph well and force people to come down and experience them. It is an act of negotiation with the artwork and the space that it’s in. You discover new things – sometimes it’s joy, sometimes it’s confusion, and sometimes it’s discomfort because you have to be in positions where you have to press your face against the wall just to see that little bit of detail.
You know it’s your passion and something you really want to do when you’re dead tired and still want to create. That’s how I know art is definitely for me.
As an artist who also works in a museum, I’m still shocked that the public does not understand what contemporary art is. Because it’s not the typical painting, drawing, or sculpture – it’s more than that. Sometimes contemporary art is not objective. It can be an installation of lights; or it can be an environment that you create. People don’t understand that. Sometimes they say, "what I’ve seen is not art". Seeing the public’s unwillingness to learn and understand what contemporary art is hurts me a lot. My mission is to educate people about contemporary art.
I had a full year of hearing negative feedback, especially because my artworks do not photograph well. Whenever an artist wants to be part of shows, they have to send images of their works first. One sentence that really hurt me was, "oh, is that it?"
For perceptions to change, we have to start educating people from pre-school. Children understand art and are more willing to find out more about what contemporary art is. I think as a whole, we’re lacking art education.
This interview is part of our February to April issue. You can download the digital version here.