Flowers Wilting in a New Day: Chris Huen
Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present a solo exhibition by Chris Huen: Flowers Wilting in a New Day. This marks Huen's first solo presentation in Singapore and South East Asia. Featured here are seven of his latest paintings bearing his signature airy brush strokes. Huen's lines travel freely on the surface of the canvas, going in different directions with a feeling of liberation. At first glance, the forms appear spontaneously drawn, but these are in fact the result of his profound observations on perception and memory.
The main subject matter of Huen's paintings is his surrounding environment, primarily his home. His wife, son and new-born daughter, along with their three dogs, are always present in his work. The painting Balltsz, MuiMui, Joel and Doodood (2020) depicts a scene where a little boy is leaning towards the glass door and looking outside, with three dogs in his company. What appears to be a mundane scene at home reveals several anomalies upon closer observation -- the door frames are distorted, and parts of the painting are left "blank". These surreal depictions reflect the uniqueness of Huen's practice. He paints entirely from his memory, instead of first photographing or sketching down what he sees. To him, the act of recalling a memory allows him to recognize what had left a strong impression in his mind and to identify what had been forgotten. Painting in this way becomes a process whereby fragments of memories are carefully reconstructed by Huen atop the canvas surface.
Another piece showcased in this exhibition, MuiMui and Haze (2020), presents an outdoor scene largely veiled in sunlight, enveloping the artist's wife, Haze, and the dog lying next to her. On the right side of the painting, as well as a small portion at the top left corner, an arc clearly demarcates a section of the scene covered in shadow. Such expressions of light and shadow (or, day and night) is another prominent characteristic of Huen's paintings. He deliberately paints parts of a single scene with differing tonal values, creating sharp contrasts which illustrate the transition of day from various perspectives. Against a tranquil background of rich greenery, Haze stands still, and her gaze draws viewers into the two-dimensional canvas.
The title of this exhibition describes Huen's reflection on the 'new normal' of the Covid-19 pandemic. Regardless of how the situation develops, our lives need to go on, and the cycles of life will continue. "There is no judgement in my work. I am painting my everyday life, and there is no 'good' or 'bad'," says the artist. Ota Fine Arts Singapore invites all to experience the unique perspectives of Chris Huen and the beauty in the mundane.