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Asia at Full Speed with Kim Gravelle

In his latest solo exhibition “Terminal Velo-cities”, the French-Canadian artist captures impressions of Asian cities through the eyes of a business traveller moving at high velocity.

Asia at Full Speed with Kim Gravelle


March 1st, 2012

Architecturally trained Kim Gravelle has been living in Asia for about 16 years now, first in Hong Kong, then Singapore, spending much of this time working in various architecture firms, and in the corporate world. In between, he works on his art, his outlet for more creative self-expression.

Terminal Velo-cities

Emergency Take Off, acrylic and spray paint on canvas

“Terminal Velo-cities” is Gravelle’s third solo exhibition and captures the rapid rate of change in Asian cities from the viewpoint of a business traveller who is also moving at high speed. Across a collection of 15 oil and acrylic paintings on canvas and plywood, Gravelle presents snapshots of fleeting images as seen from the window of a fast-moving vehicle – ‘mental postcards’ where meaning is formed by the traveller’s own perception and imagination.

Terminal Velo-cities

2d Invasion, acrylic on canvas

Gravelle, who has decided to leave his corporate day job to focus on more creative pursuits, tells us about the inspiration behind this collection.

How did the idea for “Terminal Velo-cities” come about?

I had just finished my other exhibition, which was more focussed on people and places in Singapore, and I was looking for something to do. I started travelling quite a lot, maybe 2 or 3 times a month, and spending a lot of time in airplanes and taxis. I started looking out the window and experiencing the city through the car window. And when you start to visit many places you begin to see the similarities.

Terminal Velo-cities

Terminal Velocitation, acrylic on canvas

What sort of similarities?

Well, airports in Asia, they are all brand new. They are all located in the middle of nowhere… the space between the airport and the city is normally either a kind of wasteland, underdeveloped land, or you would have extensions of the airport, where they develop the whole airport and the highway together.

So the road to the city starts to become like an extension of the airport, and you still have this feeling that you’re nowhere…. And so you spend an hour in the taxi and then suddenly boom, you’ve arrived in the city.

Terminal Velo-cities

Dystopic Landscape, acrylic and oil on canvas

The experience of spending more time looking out of the window on the way to or from the airport, is when you sort of settle down, it’s when you breathe a little bit, because you feel that there’s more space, and then you start looking and admiring and picking up things and I guess that’s where my paintings came in as I saw sculptures, and lots of billboards, and planes, and cars, and I started to imagine things, started thinking what it would really be like to experience the city.

Terminal Velo-cities

Subliminal Message, acrylic on wood

Terminal Velo-cities

Urban Fuzz, acrylic on canvas

It sounds like a lonely experience. That said, your paintings feature pops of strong and bright colours…

I think I tried to use more muted colours but I guess I just can’t get away from the colour… I’ve tried to have backgrounds that are largely one colour. And then have a few things happening on top of it. Instead of just having colour everywhere.

Maybe there’s some hope or a kind of joy in that solitude that you would feel as a business traveller. In one painting there’s a sunset… so there are some nice things that you can spontaneously stumble upon. It’s not just emptiness.

Terminal Velo-cities

Target Practice, oil on canvas

I see that apart from canvas, you choose to use plywood in your work. Why plywood?

Well my last show was mainly plywood. So this was kind of a transition. This time, I have about 3 to 4 pieces I think, that are plywood. I like plywood just because it absorbs the paint a lot better. And the colour sort of transforms as you layer it on. With canvas it’s a similar thing, but I think with wood you really feel the process, you feel the layering, you feel the colour changing. And the first layer you put on, the wood really absorbs it. And it gives a kind of deep, dark quality to it. Maybe it’s almost like sculpture, you’re kind of chiseling away at the deep colour. You’re lifting it and making it brighter, and creating some spatial quality to it.


Terminal Velo-cities
Date: 14 – 17 March 2012
Venue: MTM Loft, Level 1, 85 Playfair Road
Time: Thursday – Friday (10am to 5pm); Saturday (10am to 3pm)
Admission: Free
Contact: +65 6479 2445 /

Kim Gravelle

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