Tuesday, May 23, 2017

La Kopi Tour

The first stop of the La Kopi promotional tour is at Brunner Coffeeshop. The guys from the management invited me to collaborate with them for 3 weeks, from May 1 to 21st.  So technically, I was a hawker for 21 days. The long hours in a non-airconditioned environment producing endless perspiration and smell is very real. Art or art show in a kopitiam environment has probably not been done before, so logistically, this was going to be a learn while you work out the kinks exhibition. 

The biggest thing to deal with is all that grease floating around the coffee shop, so putting up my oil paintings is not an option and also because of that, I had to bag all my products with a ziplock. Another big thing is that customers visiting the coffee shop come with the mindset to eat. To have them realise it's an Art pop-up stall or having them switch from food shopping to 
art shopping mode can be exhausting. 

"My name is Alvin Mark, I am an oil painter by profession, this is a pop-up exhibition... ."

"No, I am not selling kopi here, but I'm selling copies of my books..."

"Nope, the prata guy left." 
(My stall is right under a prata signboard.)

"Really, I'm not kidding...  I don't serve coffee..."

The idea of this pop-up was to 1) let the public know about my new book, 2) open up minds that art exhibitions don't have to be held in a fancy gallery or art space), 3) test out peoples' reactions, 4) see how creative I can push my work, and 5) doing my bit to preserve heritage (specifically food and architecture here) through art where the general public can absorb 
and understand easily.  

It was a great 3 weeks!  Besides handing out my calling cards, I made a quite a lot of friends, la-kopied with old friends (I used to live in this part of town) and forged a couple of kickass partnerships. Stay tuned for more art at Brunners! :) 

Posters of my art inspired by the book, La Kopi, are displayed all over the coffee shop.

I worked out some coffee shop deals with some of the hawkers!

I had a lot of time to sketch and that attracted a lot of customers, 
even customers from the surrounding eateries. :) 

Even the staff at the coffee shop were inspired by my work! 
[The painting you see is a still life from the porridge stall.]

 The best part of it was having food waiting for you immediately after a sketch session.
[Plein air of the coffee shop from diagonally across the road.]

Sketching the hawkers busy at work. Here are Sally and Huimin preparing porridge.

Work in progress: a night sketch of the gas station across.

As with all art exhibitions, the surprise visit time is by Chen Chi Sing, son of Mr Chen Chong Swee - 
one of the 4 Nanyang painters from China that came to Singapore in the 1930s. 

I end all blogs with a video clip. 
So here's a little more about my time at Brunners Coffeeshop.

I am so grateful for the management team at Brunners Coffeeshop for spotting my work and were willing to try something unheard of in Singapore. Looking forward to more collaborations! 

Do let me know if this has inspired you in anywhere or if you have 
a comment about my art adventures, do send me a message. 

Till the next post! 


This weekend 27 - 28 May 2017, I'll be at Open Deck selling my small framed oil paintings.
More info here. Drop by to say "Hi!" and see these works of art up close. 

If you are interested, La Kopi can be found here: