Guo-Liang Tan: Soft Turnings


Exhibition microsite:

Soft Turnings


Video interview with the artist: 

In The Studio: Guo-Liang Tan

Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present Soft Turnings, the third solo exhibition by Singaporean artist Guo-Liang Tan. This exhibition will feature Tan’s most recent pieces: five large paintings painted on both sides of a translucent fabric surface and presented as free-standing pieces positioned across the gallery space. Viewers are invited to navigate the exhibition by moving around the artworks for a unique spatial and viewing experience.


This exhibition follows Tan’s last solo presentation Ghost Screen (2017) at the gallery, where he presented a body of paintings made on translucent aeronautical fabric. Tinted with light washes of colour and punctuated by stains and voids, these paintings draw our attention to the surface while revealing underlying spaces. Tan continues to push the boundaries of this medium, and has since incorporated processes from printmaking and collage, creating added layers of detail and depth to his paintings. In subsequent works like 1 & 3 Flat Things (2019) and Montage I & II (2020), Tan began to look into the idea of paintings as objects existing in space, subverting the usual vertical hang of paintings on walls. In 2021, Tan presented Arrive, Arrive, a large public installation consisting of five painterly objects in aerodynamic shapes. No longer taking the typical flat, rectangular form of a painting, their curvatures highlight their 3-dimensional forms, as they move further off the wall and floor by suspending in the atrium of the National Gallery Singapore.


Tan’s new body of works presented in this exhibition marks another significant development in his practice, as he extends his enquiry into modes of abstraction and his exploration of paintings as phenomenological ‘surface-objects’ and markers in space. For the first time, Tan paints on both sides of the translucent fabric surface, presenting alternating views of each work. Playing with the translucency (or opacity) of the paint and the recto/verso of the ground, he builds layers of paint that allow light to pass through, or act as a base for other hues to bounce off, creating shifts in perception by compressing two versions of the work onto a singular surface. These paintings sit individually atop wooden structures fabricated to present them as free-standing pieces, extending the physical and conceptual framing into real space. Reminiscent of projection screens and Asian frame stands, they are arranged in the gallery as space dividers, allowing viewers to physically move around the works in 3-dimensional space. Under the changing light conditions throughout the day, as well as the fleeting shadows of the viewers’ bodies, views of the works are softly altered, inviting us to observe up-close and pause for introspection.


The exhibition is accompanied by a printed publication and microsite (, featuring a newly commissioned essay by Jeannine Tang and an interview with the artist by Sherman Mern Tat Sam.


Installation Views