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Experiential Recalls
by Teo Eng Seng
Exhibition: April 10-24, 2011
Venue: Muse House, 22 Marshall Road, Singapore 424858
Visit: By appointment Tel: 97727852
  In 1979, Teo Eng Seng famously declared he had decided to abandon oil painting in order to seek a more Asian identity for his work. He turned to paper making and started to manipulate paper pulp. Ever since, the 1986 Cultural Medallion winner has become closely associated with his striking 'paperdyesculpts' which straddle the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Now though, for his latest exhibition, Experiential Recalls, Teo returns to painting. However, retaining his love of experimental twists, he paints on sewn canvas to take full artistic advantage of the lines, ridges and crevasses created by his various stitching methods.  
  After spending most of his career expressing his concerns about the world around him, from the Vietnam War and other conflicts to issues as varied as euthanasia and urban migration, Teo is now taking on a more introspective approach focussing on the world just around him. "I used to look at events that happened all around the world. That has been my preoccupation for a larger part of my career. But now, I feel that I should look maybe at more immediate things, more personal experiences, rather than watching big events and interpreting them," he says.

Many of the new works are inspired by his daily walks along the Siglap Park Connectors. His repeated experiences there trigger images in his mind of flowers, water and people, and he then tries to conjure these on his canvas. "I'm not trying to reproduce what I saw, but more recollect something," he explains. Still trying to push himself at 72, the artist has also for the first time done an installation using digital imaging photography related to his theme of "recalling." Experiential Recall greets visitors as they enter the Muse House and comprises two giant wooden window shutters that bring to mind those viewers will have seen a few minutes earlier on the Peranakan houses of Marshall Road. Here, they hide a digitally manipulated photograph of The Love Letter, a small painting by the famous 18th century Dutch painter Johann Vermeer, in which the artist has replaced the original maid looking over the shoulder of her mistress with a Peranakan lady and has also inserted himself in the painting, creating a new narrative in a well-known image. By changing the scale of the original painting, the artist invites viewers to ponder how images in the mind can actually be much bigger than in reality.

To coincide with the new exhibition, a new book will be released. Written by well-known art scholar and critic T.K. Sabapathy "Teo Eng Seng: Art & Thoughts" is a comprehensive critical review of the artist's varied career.


To interview the artist, email to teoengseng@ymail.com or call 97727852
 
     
 
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