Using the Merlion as his main figure — an half lion, half-fish dreamed up by the Singapore Tourism Board as a mascot for the country — Zhen peppers his acrylic on canvas works with auspicious Chinese signs, such as bats of good fortune, peaches of longevity, ancient coins of wealth, and auspicious clouds and balls. The Vanda Miss Joaquim, the country’s national flower, is not forgotten.
Taking a poke a recent survey highlighting the population’s lack of fun in everyday lives, Zhen uses the Merlion as a party animal in several of his canvases.
The artist used pop art colors in a coded way (yellow for Chinese, blue for Indians, green for Malays, etc.) to reflect on the issues of racial harmony and cultural multi-racialism, while his use of Chinese paper cuttings aims to highlight the current disconnect between the local Chinese community and their original cultural roots.
The exhibition opens tomorrow at Utterly Art and runs until Sunday 17th Feb