Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present Materialised Condition, a group exhibition featuring works by Chun Kwang Young (b. 1944, South Korea), Leonardo Drew (b. 1961, USA), Dale Frank (b. 1959, Australia), Jason Martin (b. 1970 in the Channel Islands; now resides in the UK), Gatot Pujiarto (b. 1970, Indonesia), Ezzam Rahman (b. 1981, Singapore), Ren Ri (b. 1984, China), Carlos Rolón/Dzine (b. 1970, USA), Yinka Shonibare MBE (b. 1962, UK). Taking the physical qualities of painting, sculpture, and installation works as a starting point, the exhibition seeks to uncover the sentiments behind the artists’ specific choices of material. With material as the focus, the immediate, direct and intimate relationship between object and artist is revealed. Materials such as fabric, thread, mulberry paper, wood, and natural beeswax evoke an appreciation for the tactile and visual. They resonate sensorially with the viewer to bring about an intimacy with the “small” or microscopic, the everyday, and the sphere of personal experiences. In this context, objects or materials have played an intermediary role, rooted in reality and connected to the vision of freedom and imagination. Reflecting upon this, Materialised Condition proffers a panoramic view of time that emerges from the “smallness” of materials.
Singaporean artist Ezzam Rahman will be executing a new performance work during the opening reception. Inspired by the longing for lost love, I was your amber but now he’s your shade of gold deals with the saudade, or deep love that remains, for an absent lover.
Artists Jason Martin and Dale Frank challenge the conventions of painting with their manipulation of the medium. Using a physically intensive process that engages the whole body, Jason Martin creates luxurious surfaces of oil and pigment that can almost be described as sculptural. Dragging smooth oil or thick pigments across the surface, the curvatures catch the light, creating depth in our visual perception of the works. Dale Frank explores the possibilities of paint and surfaces in his pieces. Pouring paint stripper and acid onto Perspex, he allows them to create his abstract “landscapes” by pooling, converging, and diverging, by both careful manipulation and by leaving things to chance. The disturbances on the otherwise pristine surfaces can be deciphered as wormholes that lead to alternate dimensions with infinite possibilities, with his imaginative titles suggesting unlikely narratives.
Leonardo Drew reflects on the universality of existence and the interconnectivity of all beings to one another through his works, illustrating these relationships through the visceral qualities of his chosen materials and the abstract sculptural forms they make up. These cosmological frameworks are meant to mirror the organic reality of existence and reveal the resonance of life and humanity.
Similarly, Chinese artist Ren Ri chooses to work with beeswax, a material found in nature, in order to demonstrate the tensions between man and nature through his relationship with his material. The artist employs bees in the creation of his works, introducing the queen bee and the rest of her hive into transparent polyhedrons and cubes with inner frameworks of wooden dowels. He then rotates the sculpture every seventh day based on the roll of a die, an act that he says references the biblical concept of creation. Ren Ri describes the process as a collaboration with the bees as neither party has full control on the outcome, much like the tension between man and nature.
Inspired by his childhood, Carlos Rolón/Dzine alludes to the ornate aesthetic style favoured by the American middle-class at the time. Walls and furniture were embellished with exotic colours, textures, and patterns in an effort to create a distinct identity. Mirrors were aplenty in his family’s houses, adding a sense of an extended area in tiny spaces shared by many, even lending them an aesthetic of grandeur that referenced upper-class culture. Raised in this environment, Rolón incorporates custom culture, faux luxury, and excessiveness into his work today as an homage to his personal history.
Indonesian artist Gatot Pujiarto “stitches” his stories together, taking elements from his everyday experiences and surrounding occurrences. Pujiarto embeds them into his works through the perspective, techniques, and language of expression that he normally uses. As early as 2008, Pujiarto started using fabric/textiles in his works to tell his stories. The fabrics are patched on, cut, pasted on, braided, or torn. They are used to create forms with stitches, highlight, or act as outlines of forms.
Korean mulberry paper is at the centre of Chun Kwang Young’s artistic practice, deeply imbuing his works with a Korean sensibility by lending its potency for metaphorical associations. Delicately translucent, yet strong and durable, mulberry paper was used for a variety of purposes in Korean households, including packaging herbal medicine in triangular bundles. It is no coincidence that the wrapped triangles of Chun’s Aggregation works are visually similar to their spiritual ancestors, as the artist investigates ideas of healing in his exploration of the socio-cultural issues particular to his country and universal conditions of human trauma and suffering.
The exhibition will also feature a sculpture by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, clothed in his trademark material—brightly coloured African batik fabric he purchases at Brixton market in London. The fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch, and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa where it became a new sign of African identity and independence in the 1960s. As with Chun Kwang Young’s works, the artists’ chosen materials afford their works an authentically deep connection to the artists’ cultural background.