“Metamorphosis 蜕变” is Singapore sculptor Aileen Toh 卓雅兰’s 8th solo exhibition. She graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 2008 and won the prestigious CDL Singapore Sculpture award in 2016.
In this art exhibition, she continues her use of upcycled wood for the sculptures, in line with her firm belief on the importance of sustainability in her art practice.
Metamorphosis means profound change. The inspiration for this exhibition came from the past two years of the Covid 19 pandemic, where she witnessed some people falling into the deep abyss of depression.
But she also encountered people who overcame their fears and doubts in the midst of all the uncertainty to create profound changes in their mindsets. These people went on to achieve personal breakthroughs, soaring to greater heights.
Through these sculptures made from upcycled wood from Singapore, Aileen hopes to encourage us, that we too, can make profound changes and transform.
This fellow here is my favourite, and it is easy to miss, as the three big sculptures take all our attention when we first arrive at the exhibition.
Examine it closely, and you will see a man, squatting, with his face buried into a pillow. He is hiding, from his problems, from the world, from life. He forgot about the wings at his back, that everyone can see but him, wings that he was born with, wings that can make him fly, but he has clipped these wings, unable to move.
The man is in the inner side, the dark side of “Noah’s Ark”.
“Noah’s Ark” is an awe arresting tall sculpture where Aileen cleverly makes use of the natural qualities of the raintree. Raintrees apparently have different colour tones – the external layer of the trunk is lighter in colour and the internal layer is significantly darker.
For this sculpture, she used the darker part of the raintree to symbolise the inside; our struggles in the shadow, our dark fears, falling deep into the abyss. She used the lighter part as the external, with a door that once opened, will bring us brightness, cheerfulness and life.
“Care” is a charming sculpture that has a seat with intricately carved wings that are enclosing. If you sit on the seat, you will feel that the wings are giving you a tight hug. Coming out into the brightness is scary, but support is here for all of us.
“Set sail” is a stunning sculpture with massive wings. With all the care and support, we can now bravely set sail, open up our wings and soar.
Like the squatting man, all of us have wings, the potential to achieve the best of our own life. But sometimes we are so overwhelmed and fearful, that we start to hide, and keep our wings closely clipped.
But our wings are always with us. With a little courage, we can slowly make the changes in our mind, to gradually open up our wings again, and eventually take off. It is not easy but it is not impossible.
There are many things that I like about this exhibition; the pretty sculptures that are so Instagrammable, the interactive nature of these huge sculptures where you can even sit on it, the use of upcycled wood in today’s climate of sustainability, the deep meaningful symbolism of wings, the very natural beauty of wood.
And the squatting man, who reminds me of me.
PS: As sculptures are 3D, it is hard to look at them from the screen. So visit them in person before the exhibition ends!
“Metamorphosis 蜕变 ” sculpture exhibition by Aileen Toh 卓雅兰 runs from 1 to 31 October 2022 at library@orchard in Singapore.
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