Habitat

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Exhibition

Habitat

27 April – 16 June 2019

Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present ‘Habitat’, which celebrates the fluid yet grounded relationship between man and nature.

This exhibition features Paris-based Japanese video artist Takao Minami‘s Puppet Study #4 (2010), a video installation which consists of computer-controlled blinds and a video projection. At first, viewers will see a closed blind suspended in mid-air. An abstract pattern is projected onto the surface of the blind. After a while, this computer-programmed blind will gradually open, creating gaps through which the image from the projector passes and reaches the wall behind. At this point, the projection is no longer an abstract pattern: it changes into a moving image of a waterfall. The underlying theme of this work is the ways through which individual movements interrelate with one another. Under Minami’s control, the different movements of the video and the blinds are juxtaposed together, in the same manner as how various parts of a puppet come into movement by a puppet master’s will. The pleasure of manipulation is reflected in this perfectly synchronized installation work.

A video work by Shanghai-based artist Tang Dixin, Shooting the moon (2016), documents his outdoor performance at Sifang Museum in Nanjing in 2015. The artist guided a group of participants into a forest that surrounds the museum, wearing special straw hats that he had prepared. For him, the act of creating a path in an untamed territory and linking people with it has symbolic meaning. Eventually, the group reached the edge of a lake, and Tang immersed himself in the water. He then started to “walk on the lake” by simply using a bamboo pole. These simple gestures in his performance do not seem to have a clear goal or message to convey. However, Tang’s performance raises the question of how art can be defined, especially in relation to the human body. For him, the feeling of being alive has crucial meaning. Using his own body, Tang aims to express the urge that drives him to challenge himself, and human beings’ ability, pushing the boundaries of what contemporary art can encompass.

Singaporean artist Zai Kuning has also been exploring the relationship between human beings and nature. The recent news of forest-burning in different parts of the world, including Sumatra island, has led Zai to think further about these issues. In this exhibition, we present Autopsy 2 (2017), a sculptural work with pieces of burnt rattan and knives placed atop a stainless-steel table alike surgical setting. Human beings burn forests for their own needs. The artist wonders how big mankind’s greed can become, and to what extent nature can provide resources to Man. Zai begins the voyage of ‘finding truth’ in trees’ bodies as if he was conducting an autopsy. The relationship between Man and nature has always been full of contradiction. Zai expresses that human beings must understand that without the nature, they could not have built civilization and their intelligence could have become useless.

Chinese artist Li Qing, in his work Tetris Window: Private Palace (2018), collects abandoned windows and incorporates them into his artworks. Behind the window, one can see an imaginary urban landscape that Li paints on the glass pane, appearing somewhat futuristic yet not entirely utopian. These combinations of surreal landscapes with time-worn windows provides a new perspective to the urban environment and the concept of passing time.

Chen Wei is also a keen observer of the urban Chinese landscape. Based in Beijing, Chen takes inspiration from the rapid changes in sceneries of the capital and creates a series of staged photographs. In his work Mushroom (2016), one will see a rather bizarre situation whereby a house is equipped with many satellite dishes on and around it. No one is around in the picture, and it almost feels like this captures a landscape from another planet. The artist explains that at some construction sites, several contractors live together in a simple temporary house and in order to access satellite TV, they install the dishes by themselves. An excessive number of inhabitants in the house creates this strange scenery, and it also represents human beings’ desire to connect with the outer world, especially in this age of digital communication.

Ota Fine Arts Singapore invites you to experience the various expressions of these 5 artists.