Home Is Where The Art Is – Chatting with Randy Chan

Where are your art pieces from?

They have been cumulated over the years. Before we moved to Pasir Panjang, we were living in SIT terrace housing at Balestier and didn’t have much space, so the pieces were scattered around various places like my studio in Beach Road and the gallery-bar Night & Day which I co-founded with local designer Kelley Cheng. When we started Night & Day, we wanted it to be a platform for artists and designers to showcase their works.

My soft spot was for illustration art which was sidelined at that time, and after we closed Night & Day, I brought home a number of pieces from there, including works from Eeshaun, Speak Cryptic, Sokkuan. One time we hosted Tiger Translate at Night & Day, where three artists, an excited audience, Tiger beer all night round, and a blank canvas were all thrown together. The collaborative result of that night is hanging on my wall now!

My friend Albert who is an architectural photographer took some photographs of my house project and these are the pieces hanging by the doorway now. You can’t really tell that it is my project as the photographs are rather abstract. Instead of concentrating on the facade he took photographs of the toilet and the unfinished parts that were still covered by canvas.

I previously lectured in NUS (National University of Singapore) so at times would take home some of my students’ working samples and drafts. My wife calls me a “karang guni” (garbage collector), but I like unfinished tactile works, for instance these stone towers that were a result of some students working with Florian Studio experimenting with ventilation holes.

Does your collection have a theme or principle?

Definitely I like unfinished work and prototypes, as evident from those stone sculptures! It is also quite funny that my neighbors are constantly asking me when I am going to complete construction of my home – they think my home looks unfinished! I tend towards form, style, tactile perception, materials, so that could be a reason why I like creations where you can see its process and form, not necessarily the finished product.

I tend to collect local artists as their works have a lot of material that I can identify with. Local content is not only exciting and resonates well with regional collectors, but using local identity and motifs in artworks can also be very contemporary and unique at the same time.

I recently bought some blue and white ceramic plates from Super Mama. The artist behind the design used the visual identity of HDB flats as motifs for the plates. I like these a lot as they have a clean, simple design that focuses on lines and spatiality, most of all they celebrate the everyday Singapore flat as an icon.

I have one of Tang Ling Nah’s charcoal drawings, “Aligning”. This was the piece that was exhibited in Unit 17 of the Lorong 24A Shophouse series, the unit that I was coincidentally asked to design. Ling Nah’s use of light and dark shades that gives homage to a transitory urban space in an MRT station resonated well with the architectural elements of my own design and I have taken it home since!

Any practical concerns/considerations in displaying art at home?

I have a very green and open home, so definitely humidity and exposure to natural elements is a concern. So far I haven’t had any problems but I have to keep the house well ventilated.

I have collected a whole bunch of old school ready made materials and objects, like “ang ku kueh” (a type of traditional glutinous rice cake) stone moulds, bows from the Orang Asli, mousetraps. Because the art pieces I have are material, usually with concrete, earth or wood elements, they go well with the green design of my home, and I can also decide where to place them. For instance Ling Nah’s charcoal drawing survives well indoors.

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I also intended the first floor of my home to be a gallery, however with my parents and in-laws visiting, they had problems climbing the stairs, so I had to move the living and dining area to the first floor and think about how to shift the art around according to the built and natural elements of the other levels.

I have also been thinking about the bare vertical walls in my home. RIght now they have an open brick surface which is a distracting background for more colorful or complex artworks. I may paint the walls white as I would have more flexibility in choosing pieces and the white would also bring out the art, or maybe overlaying the open brick with some timber.


Photography by Attilio Rapisarda

Attilio Rapisarda is a 42-year-old Singapore Permanent Resident, originally from Sicily, Italy. Attilio has been living in Singapore for seven years, working in psychiatric research and, more recently, teaching medical students. He trained in both digital and film photography at the Photographic Society of Singapore and Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking. His main photographic interests lie in the area of performance art but he has also published in the domains of food and architecture photography, on websites and magazines distributed locally and overseas.


About Gladys Teo

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A freelance art writer currently based in Singapore, I was a regular features contributor to The Pocket Arts Guide covering contemporary trends in Asia. With a background concentration in economic development and social anthropology, my special interest is in the different mediums of sociopolitical art as a tool, genre, expression.

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