Solo Exhibition By Hong Sek Chern

8 - 30 December 2016

The poem Stages by Herman Hesse has put into words what this series of paintings tried to address in Chinese ink.

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.

The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slave of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

The series was conceived first in 2013 with the depiction of Singapore landscape in multi colour in reference to the description of Singapore as a 'vibrant city' (Mr Goh CT ,1999). The use of different colours then enabled high key contrast, resulting in a flattened pictorial plane reminiscent of planar diagrams such as maps. With Hesse's urging to "prepare for parting and leave-taking" a map can serve as a guide.

For this exhibition, each painting seems to be referencing some form of structure that hovers within the pictorial plane. These can be seen not as actual structures but as a suggestion of them. 

Hong says, “To construct them, I have made many drawings of various places with emphasis on the buildings located there. I like the idea of a place with an address as it seems to suggest some form of habitation. The places chosen to be drawn are random. Usually they are based on sites and places mentioned in news articles; that are newsworthy places where sometimes human tragedy has occured. I don't go to the actual site to make drawings. Rather I rely on Internet resources such as Google Map StreetView. I then transfer these drawings onto rice paper putting the disparate building parts together to form the structure that I hope can convey a sense of some form of vessel – a ship perhaps or, specifically, a space ship.”

Hong Sek Chern (b.1967, Singapore) graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1995 with Diploma in Fine Art and from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1998 with MA Fine Art. Hong’s preferred medium is Chinese ink though she has explored definitions of drawing and painting with other media. Hong is interested in exploring various themes within urban settings. She likes to work with flat surfaces and through the application of drawing methods such as the use of linear, non-linear or multi-points perspective, she hopes to enable an appreciation of these painted surfaces. Sek Chern has held seven solo exhibitions in Singapore and participated in group exhibitions held locally and overseas. In particular, she was selected to participate in the President Young Artist Show organised by the Singapore Art Museum in 2001 and represented Singapore at the 25th Sao Paolo Biennale in 2002. Hong with her interpretation of Singapore’s urban landscape, in Chinese ink, has won several awards in Singapore and she was also a recipient of the Young Artist Award from the National Arts Council in 2000.