'When the odd ones out get in' by Kray Chen

This work depicts a legendary winning hand in the Chinese tile-based game mahjong commonly known as “Thirteen Wonders.” It is made up of the 13 least versatile and hence most discarded tiles in the game. While few players are willing to undertake the challenge of winning with this hand, Chen recognises the humour, creativity and wit of its rare combination which defies the rules, structure and logic of mahjong, and provokes an exchange of favourable odds for aesthetics.

These tiles are variously named the Winds, Dragons, Warriors, and Orphans or Lone ones. Even these names liken them to artists and visionaries who defy and transgress norms, showing exceptional resolve in taking chances to achieve a more beautiful win. This winning hand is a demonstration of solidarity and the power of banding together for the better. 

About the Artist

Kray Chen is a visual artist based in Singapore. Chen's practice explores the body politic and its lived experience, reflecting on the various intersections of culture, policy and identity. His works have been showcased in solo exhibitions in Singapore such as Hot Temple (2020), 5 Rehearsals of a Wedding (2018) and It’s a Set Situation (2016), as well as international exhibitions including the Bangkok Art Biennale (2018), Singapore Biennale (2019) and Art Encounters Biennial (2019). Chen received his MA in Fine Art in 2014 and was conferred the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council in Singapore in 2017.

Hero image:
Kray Chen, When the odd ones out get in (detail), 2021; image courtesy of the Artist.

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A rare, winning combination makes up the Singapore Art Museum’s latest hoarding commission series by artist Kray Chen. When the odd ones out get in is inspired by the legendary “Thirteen Wonders” winning hand in the Chinese tile-based game of mahjong. The artwork celebrates those who transgress norms and take chances, and even boosts the museum’s luck!

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