Saturday, September 24, 2011

BT2,2011, Looking Ahead by Ng Eng Teng vs Growth by Han Sai Por

Looking Ahead
Looking Ahead by Ng Eng Teng, 1987
Bronze,79 x 56 x 29 cm
Growth by Han Sai Por, 1985
Marble, 111.2 x 88.5 x 40 cm
a)Describe the subject matter of both works.

Looking Ahead by Ng Eng Teng shows a simplified head with 2 clasped hands holding it. The hands are at almost 90 degrees with the right elbow resting on 2 thighs with exaggerated proportions. The upper arms, the torso, the neck are all omitted while the thighs and legs are simplified into 2 round lumps which differ in size. The texture of the legs are much rougher than that of the lower arms and the hands. Among all the body parts, the texture of the face is the smoothest of all.
Coming out from the back of the head, is a long flat piece. It may suggest hair. The flat piece also seems to suggest movement of the head, as if it is flying forward. The facial features on the face are very simplified with eyes suggested by an indent and the nose suggested by a long thin protrusion. The mouth is also suggested by a small protrusion below the nose. Although the forms are rather simplified, the viewer is still able to tell that the face is looking forward. This is through the careful positioning of the head.
The omission of the upper arms, torso, and elimination of details such as the feet draw the viewer's attention to what is portrayed even more.  The absence of the parts also create a presence as the viewer can imagine the positioning of the parts and is able to easily tell the body language of the body.
The work seems to suggest that the person is deep in thought looking at the distance, dreaming. Perhaps the work is to encourage the viewer to dream and look ahead beyond the problems and limitations that surround us now.

Growth by Han Sai Por is 5 carefully carved out pieces of white marble that are semi-abstract. They seem to be like shoots growing out of the ground. They all have a round bottom and a slightly pointed tip at the top.They are placed in a circle with each pointing in different directions. Although they are similar in their form, size and texture, they have small differences light their height, thickness, and the curves that make each of them unique in their own way. This makes them look interesting to look at and seem that they are alive.
They are all very well executed, the surface is polished till it is very smooth and have very smooth and soft lines. This is rather ironic as it is made of marble, something that is hard, brittle and cracks easily. 
Because of their different heights and slightly different shapes, they seem to be like seedlings, fragile, soft, needing protection, yet at the same time full of life, curiosity and wanting to understand and discover the environment.

Through her sculptures, Hn Sai Por is able to make the work have a spirit that wants to break out, feeling of nature. It tells the audience of human's relationship with nature, that humans must protect nature.

b)Discuss similarities and differences that exist in their treatment of forms and use of materials

Both works are sculptures that have a meaning that each work is trying to show, they are not just pleasantly looking forms that are empty and meaningless. Looking ahead seems to be trying to encourage the viewer to dream, to look beyond the present. While Growth seems to suggest the beautiful silent beauty of nature and that we should protect it.
both works are simplified. They both do not have much details only the essential parts are kept. In looking ahead, Ng Eng Teng simplified the legs and thighs into just 2 lumps of different sizes. he also simplified the features of the face and omitted the upper arms,torso and legs. In Growth, Han Sai Por simplified the young seedlings to smooth teardrop-like forms, there is hardly any detail. However, despite their simplification, both works are still able to portray a message the artist is trying to express. The simplification further adds on to the clear message as there is less detail to distract the viewer. 
However, both have differences. For Looking Ahead, the texture is rough, making it seem like the texture of rough granite. this can be seen in the lumps which portray legs. The arms also have a slightly rough texture. However in Growth, all the forms are painstakingly sanded down and are as smooth as baby's skin. Even the points, the tip of their teardrop-like forms is also smooth, not one bit prickly.
Another difference is the use of material. Looking Ahead uses bronze while Growth is made of marble. The difference is probably because the artist wanted the characteristics of the material he/she choose. Bronze is dark brown in colour and is durable. This is perhaps to suggest that our dreams and aspirations should last long, we should not give up.
Marble on the other hand is white, hard and brittle, yet it can be polished till very smooth. This is perhaps to symbolise the fragility and beauty of nature.

c)In your opinion, which work would you choose to be displayed in Nanyang Girls' High School as part of our permanent art collection and where will the chosen work be exhibited? Disscuss with consideration given to the artist's background, repertoire of works, approaches to art, etc.

I would choose Growth by Han Sai Por to be displayed in Nanyang. i would choose the green grass patch at the front gate of the school as the location. However, because of the size of the work, it could be placed on a raised platform.
i chose Growth for a few reasons. 
Firstly, some of Han Sai Por's work is already in our school and this would add to the collection.
Secondly, Han Sai Por has taught in Nanyang as an art teacher before, hence it would be more meaningful to have her work in Nanyang.
Thirdly, i think the meaning of Growth is very suitable fro Nanyang.Growth seems to suggest little young seedlings in the midst of discovering their environment and growing up. This ties in very well with Nanyang. Nanyang is a plaace where young girls are given a good environment and the resources to discover about themselves, learning to grow and mature. In Nanyang we are given the protection and loving teachers to guide us. Hence the whole idea of growth that Growth presents is very apt for Nanyang.
Lastly, Han Sai Por Being a rather small and petite woman, has the courage and passion to pursue her interest in sculpture. she has to work with big machines, hard rock to slowly carve these rocks into her art pieces. I think that her attitude in life is very encouraging, to have the determination and courage to pursue an art  career as an artist which is not popular in Singapore.Her determination and courage is very admirable and i think that she and her work will be a great inspiration to Nanyang Girls.

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