The Merlion Hotel | Tatzu Nishi

Reported by Tan Jing Wen

Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi, he lives and works in Berlin and Tokyo. He attempts to make the encounter between an art object and its viewer a different, often surprising experience. He plays with public spaces transforming public monuments or sculptures into a temporary, mostly private usage. Rather than making art for homes, he creates homes around art.

The Merlion is the main symbol if Singapore, a hybrid animal that pays metaphorical tribute to the city’s name and history. The lion element refers to the city’s original name, Singapura (lion city) while the fish torso honours its maritime heritage.

Tatzu Nishi wanted to bring forward the character of Singapore and present it as a port city. A port city is a transit location where tourist stays for a while and leaves for another place shortly after. People come and go; strangers meet by chance and then move off to another place on their own.

He also stated that classical art is highly valued for its aesthetic presentation. For example, a beautiful real life painting serves as a decoration on the wall and a sculpture is used as an ornament in the room. But for contemporary art offers you a chance to evaluate your sense of being and daily life by showing different viewpoints of artists and suggests other possibilities to our ordinary lives. He has been working towards providing different possibilities since he was young and will continue to work towards this goal.

The 3 keywords behind his artistic concept, Nishi: funny, violent, and sexy. The fun part is to overthrow common sense, stimulating people’s imagination by instantly turning things upside down. Violent refers to art that should be revolutionary. Sexiness arises when private and public aspects are mixed.

I really like the idea of reinvention of Singapore’s iconic landmark which brings giving Singapore and tourists a different framework to view and value the national icon. It brings us closer to the icon. During the day and night of spending with the Merlion is a different thing altogether. It’s fun and novel in the day but unique and refreshment in the night. 


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