You might know Jahan as the man who turned a ‘Ma Ling’ luncheon meat tin into pop art. This iconic artwork was last shown at B-Side and Rarities, an exhibition at Ion Art Gallery which showcased Jahan’s various works of the last decade. As the first artist to bring street art to galleries in both Singapore and China, Jahan has been credited for taking Singapore Pop Art international, and has influenced modern art practices in Taiwan. In 2011, his works were selected by the Andy Warhol Foundation to be showcased in Andy Warhol's exhibition, 15 Minutes Eternal, at the ArtScience Museum?.
“In 2008, I gave up all my safety nets and did art full time,” Jahan shares. “I didn’t want to have regrets in my life. The first two years were tough, as there was no income coming in.” The man who gave up law to do art cites Singapore’s contrasting cultural landscape as one of the key influences on his passion: “In Singapore we are exposed to a lot of different cultures so growing up in Singapore, we develop that duality of East-meets-West very naturally.”
As an artist whose career has been a study in contrasts, Jahan is inspired by locales where the traditional meets the bold, and where East merges with the West. See Singapore through his eyes.
“At this point, I draw quite a lot of inspiration from nature,” says the MacRitchie Reservoir frequenter. “During my travels, I realised that a lot of countries do not have green lungs anymore. Singapore has a lot of unspoilt greenery, and that’s something very underrated about our city.”
Much like Jahan’s artwork, Tiong Bahru blends the new and the traditional. “Tiong Bahru’s vibe takes you back in time,” he observes, of what he calls one of Singapore’s most inspiring neighbourhoods. “You can see original residents alongside young hipsters. It’s a blend of Old World and New World.”
Jahan’s exhibition, ‘Cherry Poke: Reconstituted Philosophy’ explored Singaporean identity as a fusion of East and West. The artist’s love for contrasts is evident in his preferred art space. “I really like the National Gallery,” he shares. “The space as a whole is a fusion of east and west.”
Jahan has seen Clarke Quay grow, having “painted there when it wasn’t so developed”. He has come full circle in recent years, with commissioned paintings on the walls of Phuture, Zouk’s most avant-garde dance room. “Zouk was a huge influence to me—I grew up with its music and flyers.”
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