Examine the qualities of these works - depth, colour, texture, materiality - and one will find a respect of formalism and skillful execution that is at odds with the young age of these artists, who have launched themselves full-force into the process of creation.
Their methods could be viewed as opposite ends of a spectrum. Jay Ho is a process painter inspired by the existentialist school of thought, where “to act” and “to do” is an affirmation of individualism and existence. He embraces chance and randomness as chemicals are combined and recombined, with effects that are often unexpected and out of his control. These accidents are the basis for the formation of each work, opening up new possibilities and directions. Naturally, his works are inclined to the sublime and infinite, addressing both creation and destruction.
Conversely, Gerald Tay organises pictorial space through intentional stacking and overlapping of figures and forms. He returns, each time, to the motif of the mask as a representation of power dynamics - referencing facades, multiple and ever-changing personas. Drawing parallels to the historical act of portraiture, where status and respect are accorded to the subjects of a portrait, he questions the observer versus the observed and the various hierarchies that we inhabit.
For both artists, perception is central to understanding. Jay quotes Henry David Thoreau on approaching the world as “nature looking into nature” - acutely aware of the relationship between the form of our own perception, and what we are able to perceive. This speaks to looking inwards as a signifier of personal purpose, perhaps using nature as a platform to do so. In turn, Gerald believes that status and power is affirmed through a gaze - each subject not being passive, but active in accepting, challenging or rejecting the gaze of the viewer. His nuanced title, 眼神, further speaks of the expressions or emotions which are present in one’s eyes as a reflection of an individual – the eyes being the symbolic gateways to the soul.
In essence, what the works encourage the audience to perceive are a reconsideration of relationships between individuals, the external world and the self.