The year 2015 - Eugene Soh

Eugene “The Dude” Soh is one of the top emerging photographic artists in Singapore and has earned a well-deserved reputation for delivering humorous yet thought-provoking messages that narrate contemporary life and social issues in the modern day city state.

Eugene’s work is inherently humanistic, and his empathy for the common man, his challenges and foibles, resonates with his audience.  Eugene’s parodies of living conditions in Singapore are both a tongue-in-cheek commentary on contemporary life and a raw exposé of the struggles facing people of all ages in the Lion city.  Like Woody Allen, Eugene frequently appears in his own works, alongside his girlfriend Kareen Chin and various relatives, friends and the occasional by stander – delivering dead-pan satire while implying a deeper underlying message.

According to Art Consultant Audrey Phng, “Eugene Soh, or rather, the DUDE.SG - the art world moniker he has bequeathed on himself, is a force to be reckoned with. Under that seemingly docile and somewhat quirky demeanor lays a spark of brewing genius and bubbling eccentricity that underlines the making of a great artist”.

The Abacus Capital Calendar 2015 features works from two of Eugene’s collections: Renaissance City and Family Series.

In Renaissance City, the artist combines popular locations from Singapore’s social geography with icons from the lexicon of Renaissance and Impressionist art: in The Last Kopitiam (2010) he overlays Da Vinci’s The Last Supper with a lunchtime hawker crowd at the Maxwell Road Food Center; in Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Singapore (2014) he mimics the pointillist Seurat’s impressionist 1884 masterpiece, shot at Upper Pierce Reservoir; and in The Arrival of Venus (2012) Eugene echoes Botticelli’s 1486 work, injecting his girlfriend onto an open shell in East Coast Park.  The overall effect produces an amusing trompe l’oeil photograph that forces a double take on the viewer, and incites deeper thought into the background of both references. When asked about his Renaissance and Impressionist influences, Eugene believes that in appropriating and learning from them, he is “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

In Family Series, Eugene focuses on the issues of raising a family in Singapore’s existentialist, materialistic society. A sense of play is also evident in this body of work, in which a Singaporean couple, Eugene and his girlfriend, feature in a variety of works, such as Cost of Living (2013), Monumental Task (2013) , and Education Nation (2013) – which address respectively the high cost of living, the quandary of having a baby, and the drudgery of learning, amidst the materialism, stresses and expense of living in Singapore. Eugene says he was “inspired by discussions with his girlfriend about starting a family, and whether or not they should have children.”

Eugene Soh (b. 1987, Singapore) obtained his BFA in Interactive Media from the Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media, Singapore in 2013.  His new media art explorations include the establishment of the virtual art gallery Gallery.sg as a site for webart exhibitions.  Eugene held his first solo exhibition at the OCBC Centre Branch, Singapore (2013); in the same year, he was a Finalist with Honorable Mention at the 2nd France + Singapore Photographic Arts Award, Singapore, as well as a Finalist in the Student Category, Sony World Photography Awards, Student Focus, World Photography Organisation, London. Eugene’s works were recently exhibited at the ICON Martell Photography Prize 2014, National Museum of Singapore and Sensorium 360, Singapore Arts Museum.  He lives and works in Singapore.