I always felt put on the spot when asked to pick my favourite-anything. Being a gallerist demands that I put on different lenses when assessing these artworks. But to be a gallerist is also to recognise that there are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives and perspectives to be gleaned when you put aside personal dispositions and preferences.
However, with that being said, there are some works that no matter what positions I adopt, I always find myself going back to them and there is always this ineffable affinity with them.
This is a great piece if you are in search of Time – time for restfulness and a quiet moment to yourself. Xu Hua Xin facilitates that with much grace. With the use of carefully crafted textures and an immensity of depth, his artistry and vision lead you to a world that is Outside of Time. Or rather, something I like to call “the lost Chinese mood”. Truly an imaginative piece which inspires a sense of hope, and at the same time, some introspection. This is a perfect piece for times like these, as a means for us to recalibrate and to find temporary reprieve in a world that seems fragmented and lost.
Zhao Xiao Hai’s paintings always evoke a consistent mood for me, regardless of the subject matter. It is not a particularly personal or intimate expression, you don’t necessarily feel that the artist attempts to speak to you through his art. Rather, it beams out a collective message that seems to be saying, “I know how you feel. I understand you and you are not alone.” Sometimes we want to be understood, but yet we have reservations about expressing our thoughts because we are sick of receiving trite platitudes. In times like these, I always found that more reassuring and comforting to ruminate over Zhao’s works.
Perhaps, it is the way the contours of the landscape against the backdrop of the sky stretch out into infinity, slowly losing their sharp angles, corners and edges. It reminds me that regardless of what happens, the moment will pass, and the light shall fade. Our years will disappear, and we will wonder what we did with them. But this is not a sad resignation, it is a dignified acceptance.
I find solace in these black inky brushstrokes.
Zheng Yuan Wu’s new series is fascinating study of the artist’s mind. There are two ways to approach his works. First, at a distance where you see the overall silhouette and structure. In this instance, it is a reimagination of Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. Following that, you take step closer (or in this case, zoom in on your device) to get a closer look at the complex, intricate web of imageries and icons that Zheng has interplayed with the overarching concept.
It reminds me of the way storytelling works. There are multiple microcosms that eventually add up to tell a bigger story, and important anecdotes that contribute to a larger narrative. To look at Zheng’s painting is to be told a never-ending tale. Every time you look at it, you find something new. One day you see a beautiful harp and the next day, you find that the harp is also the hull of a ship, and you realised that the ship is also part of another story. All of them are interconnected and weaved together inseparably, layer by layer, line by line.
Perhaps, it is not that different from reading a novel.
Published on 1 May, 2020
by Sharon Yap, White Space Art Asia