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On Common Ground
22 April – 20 May 2017
Mulan Gallery, proudly presents On Common Ground, an inaugural solo exhibition showcasing the latest printmaking works and paintings by local artist Chen Shitong. The exhibition will run from 22 April – 20 May 2017
On Common Ground features a new series of works that throws our surroundings into sharp relief. Playing homage to the ever-changing ground surface of Singapore, where every day, mundane things such as walking on a pavement is often taken for granted, Chen seeks to present the beauty of the ground by using printmaking as a primary medium of expression. This series puts the spotlight both on people from different walks of life who play different roles in our society, and the singular chorus of the nation, where each individual offers a unique tenor to the country’s well-being and a distinctive imprint on its social geographical terrain.
The printmaking works in this series are created using collagraphy, a printing method that Chen has been experimenting with in recent years to create works rich in texture and colour. In conjunction with these prints, this exhibition will also showcase a series of paintings, a medium that Chen returns to after some years of hiatus. On Common Ground challenges the artist to strike a balance between the two media, in a way as to find a common ground between chance and will, translation and direct expression, external forces and self-determination.
Inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paintings and in particular Zhang Zeduan’s Song dynasty masterpiece Along the River During the Qingming Festival, Chen’s works present panoramic scenes of small figures set against expansive landscapes. This characteristic play of scale and balance serves to highlight a sense of vastness, evoking a Zen sense of peace and tranquillity. The energy in and between nature and people is transmuted unto these aesthetic, pseudo-archaeological artefacts via an interplay between dimensions, colours and layers in Chen’s carefully constructed palimpsests, etching for all posterity fragments of how people and things once fit within the larger scheme of nature, history and society.
Chen Shitong 陈时桐 (b.1985, Singapore) is a printmaker and painter producing works that regularly
translate between the two media. Drawing inspiration from a contemplation of man-made and natural
objects, as well as a fascination with surface textures and human figures, Chen’s works offer meditations
on contemporary living and existence.
Chen’s printmaking work has recently been shown in the first edition of the Contemporary Printmaking
Festival 2017, amongst 20 artists and designers as part of the Singapore Art Week. His works have also
been exhibited in Locals Only, an initiative focused on home-grown talents by TAKSU Gallery (Singapore,
2016), in Phrase, Rephrase, a group exhibition with Galerie Steph (Singapore, 2015), as well as My
Dreams. Our Hopes a duo exhibition showcasing Singapore art at LWH Gallery (Shanghai, 2014). His
works have been selected for Spot Art 2013, the first edition of the annual juried visual art festival aimed at
putting young, emerging Southeast Asian artists on the global contemporary art map, as well as for SMRT’s
Art In Transit programme, where artworks are integrated with MRT station finishes, as part of a group
initiative by LASALLE.
Chen is a recipient of the Winston Oh Travel Award in 2012 and the NAFA Fine Art Award (Wood Award)
in 2009. He holds a diploma in Painting at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts
from Goldsmiths College in partnership with LASALLE College of the Arts.
“My work is a reflection of our surroundings in this diminutive world. The crushing pressure inserted between the plates and the printing press creates imprints that are an homage to the land that we inhabit. I look for simplicity in colours and form amidst the disarrayed amount of information in this current society, while seeking tranquillity in the process.” —Chen Shitong