Genevieve Chua’s solo exhibition at STPI opened in late February and had to close just over a month later, because of the circuit breaker. It recently reopened, but will close for good on July 19. If you miss it this time, you should kick yourself. Simply put, it’s one of the best solo art shows you’ll see this year.
Chua, 36, has been actively working for more than a decade. Over time, her works have become more complex and technical – and yet oddly more delicate and impalpable too. The STPI show titled Twofold is her largest showcase ever, with works curated by Melanie Pocock from four different series all in one room, sometimes right next to each other, to create a dialogue.
Hence, even If you are familiar with her oeuvre, this show offers a rare chance to track and evaluate her decade-long development as an artist.
The strongest of the four series is perhaps Edge Control, which consists of over two dozen small paintings, each about 60 by 42 cm, and each challenging the notion of what a painting could be. Some of them take on deliberately strange shapes, with a craggy edge here, or a jutting corner there. Others look almost like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – if you put them right next to each other, it would seem they could fit perfectly.
Chua has often described the genre of painting as “old and loaded”. Her attempts to break new ground consists of reimagining the shape of the canvas and stretcher, as well as the use of only white and black paint, instead of a more vibrant palette. The paintings are often stark and harsh, but also beautiful in their rigour and restraint. Her investigations into the possibilities of painting recall those of her compatriot Jane Lee. But whereas Lee revels in the ornate and fantastical, Chua opts for a sheer, stripped-back approach.
This restraint continues into her new series of works created for STPI, in which she screenprinted very fine moire patterns on a colourless rectangular piece of acrylic, and lightly adorn them with additional small pieces of acrylic, turning the two-dimensional works into three-dimensional ones. Unlike the Edge Control paintings, here she opts for soft, light colours to create an ethereal feel. The finished works are so exquisite, they’re almost an affront to the massive, nearly 3-metre-long canvases of her Ultrasound series, now hanging on the walls of a number of collectors’ homes.
Other Genevieve Chua’s works on display at STPI
Of course, Chua has always had highly delicate sensibilities, as evidenced in her After The Flood series, an earlier collection dating back to 2011, also showcased here. For this series, she photographed black-and-white images of jungles on the fringes of Singapore’s urban landscape, and then hand-painted portions of the vegetation to suggest nature’s resilience and vitality, even in a skyscraper-studded city like Singapore.
The entire show helps you make sense of Chua’s impressive artistic practice, one that – like her canvases – has frequently shifted, morphed, expanded and even upended itself, in order to find new answers.
Photos Tony Cuhadi & STPI
This article first appeared in The Business Times.