For my favourite people.
It’s been five years 🙂
This essay explores the aesthetic differences and thematic parallels between the works “Terra Firma” by Frayn Yong and “A Day Without A Tree” by Yeo Chee Kiong from the UNEARTHED art exhibition at SAM.
In terms of formal and physical qualities, distinct differences lie in the use of color, scale, medium and texture by both artists. Yong’s work takes on the form of a miniature panorama constructed with pencil lead. The artist’s choice of material confers the artwork a minimalist, monochromatic appearance along with a carefully calculated yet raw finish. Yeo’s installation on the other hand occupies a significant area of the museum’s interior, establishing an imposing presence. The site-specific work adopts the color scheme of the museum – ceramic white – in order to blend in perfectly with the surrounding space. Unlike Yong who has chosen to use a single material (graphite), Yeo strategically employs mixed media to visually “melt” the brick and plaster columns of the museum’s rotunda, creating a perception of the solids being liquefied and later solidified in that state.
Despite such differences, the works share profound similarities on a conceptual level. Both works seek to examine such issues as the ephemeral and fragile nature of human existence, versus the potent and enduring forces of the natural environment. By using a brittle and insubstantial material, Yong’s work draws reference to how civilizations and buildings we have painstakingly constructed could be easily decimated by the larger forces in nature. Interestingly, the title “Terra Firma”, a Latin phrase for “solid earth”, juxtaposes with the nature of the work which is in fact delicate and fragile, highly susceptible to changes in the external environment. In contrast, the title “A Day Without A Tree” of Yeo’s installation effectively echoes its message: the devastating effects of climate change due to human interference with nature.
Title of artwork: Dreams Collide, Thoughts Connect
Write up on artwork:
paint is the only medium that separates us,
you are what i create,
i am what you reflect,
you and i, collide.
we are insubstantial,
we are perceptions,
we are working together,
to ignite dreams,
and make sparks fly.
My painting is a visual metaphor for the expression of artistic identity of an individual. As a young artist, I have always been looking for a concrete identity just like most people in my age group. Through painting, my innermost emotions and heartfelt desires are conveyed in the most abstract yet appropriate way, i can find no other platform where i can be myself freely and entirely, without any constraints and artificialities of the real world. In the painting, both personas appear to be real, yet by logic we understand that one of them must be a reflection of the other. However, it is ambiguous as to which is real and which is not. It is exactly this play with perception, confusion and constructed reality that forces us to rethink the art-making process. Painting, and any other creative practice, is a double construction process, a collaboration between the artist and the artwork. The painting is a creation by the artist, yet it so strongly reflects her development as an individual, so in this way it is creating her as well. Both the artist and artwork are presented on the same canvas to show their interdependent relationship. The tip of the brush is the point where a deep connection is established between the artist and the artwork, and it is the point where sparks of creativity, creation and imagination, fly. There is almost no boundary that separates them, if we must find one, it is the layer of paint between them; they are so closely-related, yet so illusory. The concepts of space and time are forsaken, leaving only the artist and her art world, having an incomprehensible and inaudible interaction with each other.