by Lin, Ashley
S. Chandrasekaran (b. 29 November 1959, Singapore–)1 is a visual artist who works across many different disciplines and mediums. He is known for the intense physical nature of his performances and the incorporation of elements from the biological sciences into his performances.
Chandra began his formal art education at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), where he received his Diploma in Fine Arts in 1988. He furthered his studies in art at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1990, a Master of Arts (Visual Arts) in 1997, and a Doctor of Creative Arts in 2007.2
In March 1988, Chandra and fellow NAFA graduates, Salleh Japar and Goh Ee Choo, launched the exhibition Trimurti at the Goethe Institute, where they showed works executed in a range of mediums, from paintings to performances. Trimurti has since been critically regarded as a landmark exhibition in the history of contemporary art in Singapore.3
Upon the completion of his first degree, Chandra began to delve further into issues pertaining to identity and culture in his art practice, drawing on his Indian heritage, which led to works such as Kala Chakra (1991) and Atman (1992).4
Chandra was one of the first recipients of the Young Artist Award, awarded by the National Arts Council of Singapore in 1992.5
In 1992, Chandra travelled to India and was based in Cholamandal Artist Village in Chennai, South India for two years, during which he explored new ideas and reflected on his works. During this period, he learned wood carving and studied temple architecture from masters in India. The new direction in his art practice was reflected in the form of new works that were exhibited in ICONS, a show curated by Constance Sheares in 1996.6
Chandra was also commissioned for public works both locally and internationally.7 In 2003, he was involved in one of Singapore’s biggest art commissions by the Land Transport Authority. This project involved the installation of visual and tactile art within the stations of the northeast Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line. Chandra’s featured work, Memoirs of the Past, is influenced by traditional Indian folk art and aims to evoke memories of Little India’s past, while celebrating the uniqueness of Indian culture in Singapore.8 Chandra also displayed his talent globally at the World Sculpture Park in Changchun, China, with his work Water for Nature in 2001.9
One of Chandra’s research interests lies in studying the co-relation between bodily presence and life sciences through performance art. He worked with Gary Cass, an Australian scientist, to fuse biology, chemistry, installation art and performance art. He put up several performances that incorporated the physical experience of bodily pain, one of which included inviting audiences to stick metal pins in his back. Bleeding Angel, a performance art display nominated for the APB Signature Art Prize in 2008, featured Chandra immersing half of his body into a mixture of wine and bacteria, which then produced a film that encased part of his body. Chandra focuses on performance art because it allows audiences to have a greater connection to his work, as well as to witness it in real time.10
Chandra is the founder and artistic director of Biological Arts Theatre (BAT), together with choreographer Santha Bhaskar, laboratory scientist Gary Cass, and guest artist Madhura Nayak. BAT aims to be a practice-based research network that provides a platform for art and non-art practitioners to create new works, with a focus on contemporary art. Infinite Saree, a project developed by BAT with the support of the National Arts Council’s Arts Creation Fund 2011, held three phases of workshops in 2011.11
Apart from his outstanding contribution to the local art scene, Chandra is also an accomplished academic with significant appointments in the field of arts education. His teaching areas include drawing, painting, art photography, installation, new media, performance art, art theory, psychology of art, art history, Southeast Asian art history and aesthetics.12
1994: Madras Madley, Lalit Kala Academy, Madras, India.
1996: ICONS, Fort Canning Gallery, Singapore.
2002: Akasa, Earl Lu Gallery, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore.
2012: Living Stories, Substation, Singapore.
1997–99: Senior lecturer, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts.
1999–2002: Head, School of Fine Arts, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts.
2002–08: Part-time lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, Curtin University.
2009–10: Head, Department of Fine Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
2010–11: Senior research fellow, Institute of South East Asian Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
2011: Part-time lecturer, Department of Fine Arts, Goldsmith’s College, University of London, LASALLE College of Arts.
1994–95: Artistic Director/Founder, The Arts Fission Company.
1998–2007: Member, Board of Director/Founder, The Arts Fission Company.
2007: Artistic Director/Founder, The Quasi-Living Group.
2009: Founder/Artistic Director, Biological Arts Theatre (BAT).
1. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
2. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
3. Cheah, P. (1987, May 17). ‘Rebel students’ make the grade. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sabapathy, T. K., et al. (Eds.). (1998). Trimurti and ten years after. Singapore: Singapore Art Museum, pp. 7–9. (Call no.: RSING 700.95957 TRI); Mahizhnan, A. (Ed.). (1993). Heritage and contemporary values. Singapore: Times Academic Press for Institute of Policy Studies, pp. 50–51. (Call no.: RSING 306.095957 HER)
4. Sabapathy, T. K. (1991, April 26). Art of time travel. The Straits Times, p. 6; Sabapathy, T. K. (1992, August 28). Chandra installed. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Ho, S. B. (1993, September 10). National awards for 8 young artists. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Sabapathy, T. K. (2012). Living stories. Singapore: S. Chandrasekaran, p. 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 709.2 CHA-[SST])
7. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
8. Tan, C. (2003, March 11). $10m worth of artworks adorn north-east MRT line. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; SBS Transit Ltd. (n.d.). Art in transit. Retrieved 2016, September 28 from SBS Transit Ltd website: https://www.sbstransit.com.sg/transport/trpt_nel_art.aspx
9. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
10. Cheong, J. (2007, May 31). He works with a canvas of pain. The Straits Times, p. 98; Chia, A. (2008, August 1). Artists in for top award. The Straits Times, p. 77. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Biological Arts Theatre. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from Dr S. Chandrasekaran website: http://www.schandrasekaran.com/Biolgoical-Arts-Theatre.php
12. LASALLE College of the Arts. (2016). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from LASALLE College of the Arts website: http://www.lasalle.edu.sg/academics/s-chandrasekaran/
13. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
14. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
15. Dr S. Chandrasekaran. (n.d.). Dr S. Chandrasekaran. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from S. Chandrasekaran website: http://schandrasekaran.com/documents/chandraCV2012.pdf
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.