The cult of Kult
Steve Lawler was waving his hands wildly in the air, like a demented music maestro.
“We’re going to paint one long stripe right across the middle of the gallery and hang all the artwork in one line across the centre, kind of like a ‘dirty paint job’ theme,” he enthusiastically explained.
Earlier this month, the 36-year-old creative director and co-founder of Kult had given us an animated description of how the next exhibition at Kult will be set up. Titled Girls Of The Underworld, it features works by 33 Singapore-based female artists such as Adeline Tan, Dawn Ang and Esther Goh. Its opening night, which took place yesterday, involved free beer, music and a general party atmosphere.
“We know what it’s like to go to a party, so we make an effort to make this place look and feel different, eliminating the fatigue from the people who’ve been for every one of our shows,” Lawler had explained, to which his co-founder and marketing director Tanya Wilson joked: “We usually get about 400 people hanging around until we kick them out.”
You could say Kult exhibition openings aren’t your run-of-the-mill openings — but, then again, it wasn’t your usual art gallery in the first place.
Set up in 2007, it’s a creative agency, publisher and gallery rolled into one. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with its quarterly magazine featuring up-and-coming artists in the local scene as well as from overseas.
“Most of our work, whether commercial or not, revolves around arts and creativity, so all the different parts to our agency feed off one another. The commercial work we do funds our initiatives such as Kult magazine, which we distribute for free,” said Wilson.
Lawler describes Kult as the “underbelly of the Singapore arts scene”, adding that there are times when the public has had a tough time finding it at all — all the way up on Emily Hill.
“Once they finally find their way, they would really feel like they’ve stumbled upon some kind of underground treasure trove and start feeling really excited! Especially for tourists and outsiders, they would feel that Singapore’s really got something going on and not leave the country feeling like Singapore’s like Dubai, all boring and sh**,” said Lawler, himself an artist who goes by the moniker Mojoko.
Indeed, the small independent art gallery is anything but dull. Its quirky themes change radically with each exhibition.