An Art Show by Mr. & Mrs. Sabotage
Mark Ong and Sue-Anne Lim are Mr and Mrs Sabotage – the dynamic husband-and-wife team behind SBTG. With an amalgamation of influences, SBTG’s works is a bricolage of punk rock and metal music, skateboarding, 80s America, military motifs, and B-grade horror movies that resonates with those growing up immersed in the subcultures of the 1980s. The appropriation of military motifs in particular, like nose art, tigerstripe camouflage, and the American flag, harks to punk’s subversion of the establishment. Yet, such delineation is complicated by Mark’s own dedicated service with the Singapore Armed Forces where he developed an interest in texture, camouflage and the masculine persona. SBTG’s artistic practice is one infused with moral courage; living by the punk and skateboarding tenet of having the freedom to be what they want, they pursued a path in visual arts independently, relying on discipline, hard work, and DIY entrepreneurialism.
Their new series of works on various mediums is titled Acoustic Anarchy, and was first exhibited in 2012 by FLABSLAB. A semi-biographical account of Mark’s life growing up in Singapore through the honest reflection of his influences,
it captures the struggle against conformity and the spirit of rebellion. Acoustic Anarchy Redux will be shown at Galerie Steph, Singapore in July 2013.
Initially a label with which to identify and brand himself, SBTG became Mark’s moniker, symbolising his aggressive and rebellious individualism. Having been immersed in skateboarding and punk culture since young empowered Mark with a DIY ethic, from building ramps to learning new tricks. As he carried on with skateboarding, he found himself getting through shoes faster than he could afford to buy new ones. He started patching them up with leather, rubber, bicycle tyres and whatever else he could get his hands on. His venture into painting on sneakers began when he could not afford a pair of sneakers in a particular colour that he really fancied. Undeterred, he bought a cheaper pair of white sneakers and painted them to that exact colour himself. It was then that he realised he could produce serious works even with limited means. And true to this punk aesthetic, self-taught and working from his parents’ kitchen, he began putting his vision to his choice of canvas – the sneaker.
In 2003, Mark entered a competition for customised sneakers on Niketalk.com. He won and immediately gained transnational recognition. The resulting publicity scored him a total order of 72 pairs of sneakers from Tokyo retailer Atmos and Chapter, and Singapore retailer Ambush. In 2006, SBTG together with Nike released a limited edition SB Dunk Low. It was sold out on the day of its release, and is now a cult collectable. SBTG has since gone on to collaborate with renowned international brands including DC, New Balance, and Thrasher on exclusive sneakers. In the last decade, SBTG has customised and hand-painted over 3000 pairs of shoes, some of which are worn by pop figures like Kobe Bryant, Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn of Linkin Park, James Lavelle and Q-tip.
SBTG’s wholly distinctive and inimitable style marries grit with finesse, craftsmanship with artistry, expressiveness with urbanity, and is in great demand by lifestyle brands outside of the sneaker industry. SBTG has collaborated with MediCom Toy on Be@rbricks; Casio on a limited edition G-Shock watch; Johnnie Walker on Black Label bottles, and Thrasher on exclusive tees and skateboards.
In 2010, SBTG began the transition from sneakers to larger canvasses, most of which were found materials from their environment. It was while on a tour with DC Shoes through various old cities where wooden signs still continue to be traditionally made that they were inspired to explore different mediums and expand their repertoire of
motifs and imageries. With a natural ability to evolve beyond their surroundings, SBTG quickly gained various commissions for their deftly painted acrylic on wood from both private and public collections. Their works are on view at Titan, Manila; Bomba Paella Bar, Singapore; Facebook, Singapore; Darkroom Army, Singapore; Blackmarket, Singapore; Surrender, Singapore; GOODSTUPH, Singapore; FICE Gallery, Salt Lake City, and +65 Supper Club, London.
Through cultural osmosis, SBTG absorbs influences from both history and their surroundings. With these works on wood, SBTG appropriates various motifs and adroitly juxtaposes them to create a collage of convergence in culture. In Enjoy Napalm (2013), a Lufthansa flight attendant poses before a tropical war scene á la Apocalypse Now with “Enjoy Napalm” in the foreground – these are the imageries skillfully deconstructed then pulled together with playfulness and acerbic wit for a visually arresting articulation of the various recognisable idioms melting into one another.
Mark and Sue-Anne together conduct DIY workshops in Singapore and abroad, such as Paris and South Africa. This commitment to a community of would-be DIY dedicatees is done in the hopes of empowering them with the freedom to create. With their self-taught background, they are enthusiastic to share their accumulated knowledge in the spirit of the DIY ethic.
DC - The HUB
15 rue Montorgueil, 75001 Paris
16 May 2013 (Thursday 1800hrs till Late)
17 May - 22 June 2013 (Open Daily)