The environment where the artists live has a direct impact on their senses, their emotions, their relationships with nature and wider culture. Being a tiny island city-state constantly in a state of construction and renewal, the notion of development and progress has given rise to a long-standing dilemma regarding solutions on modern living and the impact it has on the natural environment. The works in this exhibition attempt to capture nature, not only as they experience it – magnificent, enchanting, unpredictable – but to immerse in its whole and to engage the viewer in a contemporary interpretation of their environment’s ongoing transformation through paintings.
Boo Sze Yang paints imaginative topographical vistas referencing traditional Chinese landscape paintings and Chinese philosophical teachings such as Daoism. His recent series of near-monochromatic visions conjures a natural world gradually dissected and displaced by urban development. This series of painting are constructed via a process of moving, marking and shifting wet paint across a surface, balancing on the edge of recognition and abstraction to create dreamlike images where meaning is constantly shifting and interpretation becomes multifaceted.
For Tay Bak Chiang, nature is perfection, balance and harmony. He believes his work should bear the imprint of his environment and reflect the spirit of contemporary times, even if it is rooted in Chinese ink painting. Hence, he often interprets anew nature themes familiar in Southeast Asia, such as heliconias, banana and palm trees, stones and lotus ponds. Earlier in his practice, he experimented with deconstructing and reconfiguring nature motifs. More recently, he has attempted to move away from representational forms, abandoning motifs that may bear his feelings and points of view. He interprets lotus flowers as minimalist forms; stalks as thick, unembellished strokes; and stones as aloof, silent silhouettes, creating vistas that invite viewers to imagine and discover nature for themselves, just as nature intends for us to do.