We Dance Together is the first solo exhibition of Sumatra-born painter and sculptor Lugas Syllabus with Chan + Hori Contemporary in Singapore.
As an artist, Lugas Syllabus draws upon ideas found in parables, anecdotes and traditions ranging from Islamic, Hellenistic and, in particular, Sriwijaya and Minangkabau-associated origins of Southeast Asia in reference to his Sumatran heritage. Through paintings and sculptures, Lugas borrows and juxtaposes iconic modern-day elements such as electronic gadgets, neon billboards, and precious golds and jewels against a background of lush flora and fauna. Lugas’ animalistic forms are often playfully hybridised, conjuring its various associated symbolic meanings and powers. These forms, like the reconstructed betta or Siamese ornamental guppies, deer antlers, parts of birds, snakes and horses are conjoined into eclectic, otherworldly forms. Amongst these animated forms, one also find extraterrestrial objects such as brightly-coloured eggs with skins reminiscent of traditional songket textiles referencing birth and creation resting amongst a composition of streams and flowering trees.
Taking personal experiences of a domestic migrant from Sumatra to Java, his work could be read as a sharing of personal introspections to foster dialogues, starting with his pet themes concerning the psyche of migrants. Between the otherwise traditional motifs, he invites our participation in these dialogues by embedding humanistic and universal layers with gestures concerning wealth and consumption as an example.
In these fantastical dualities of nature and the constructed environment on canvas and as sculptures, the artist delivers us into portals of parallel dimensions. Each one feels organic and natural, yet is reminiscent of science fiction.
The abundant visual and symbolic intensity of Lugas’ realm is one that reflects our contemporary realities. It comprises daily inventions, interventions, oddities and contradictions that have become normalized experiences and choice options for our everyday selection. With an exceptional visual vocabulary, the artist leads us to find a resolution between the realities that are captured by our mortal sight and worldly desires.