18 November – 13 December 2008
The Fullerton Hotel 1 Fullerton Square #01-08 Singapore 049178
After its first appearance in the early 1980s as a collection of inimitable wood sculptures, Ju Ming’s Living World Series has undergone various stages of development, and has climaxed to become a central theme that efficaciously depicts the artist’s creative dexterity. By reconciling two disparate ideas, namely the traditional woodcarver’s technique with a more modernised, abstract inclination, Ju Ming has impressed upon the art world his ideals regarding social phenomena.
Portraying various age groups and walks of life both at work and at play, the Living World Series encapsulates the rich diversities of humanity, at times satirising the nonchalant, mundane lives led by certain individuals trapped in a dubiously tainted society. Ju Ming has adapted comfortably to change, not only concerning new media but also in the varied ways he treats his subjects. He once commented in an interview, “I do not like to repeat what I did. I like variations and trying different things.” In 2007, he created his third Living World Series in white with a hint of black.
“From now on I will apply only white on my sculptures”, Ju Ming describes, ascertaining the belief that this new perspective is best able to capture his awareness of social values, and the nuances of urban life. Reaching the age of seventy, the artist progressed to a stage where he desires to abandon all colours, to pare down form and movement; his Living World protagonists share a bizarre connection with the rustic wood pieces, and black and white shades that forge their very existence. The coarse textures, rough inundations, and monochromatic colours emit an impression of simplicity, captured by the notion that a constituent of mother earth, being utilised to form an artwork, is in truth a newly created but nonetheless, ‘living’ object.
The process of tearing the wood apart, and hacking it with a chisel to amass a formation of such exceptionality is what Michael Sullivan describes as the heroic dialectic struggle between Ju Ming and the recalcitrant materials. This allows the audience to witness the artist’s feelings and life experiences. The integral aspect of the figures in the Living World Series represents Ju Ming’s vision of the human being locked in a struggle with self. The colour white does not bring an aura of stillness to the completed creation, but is used as a concentrative ploy to enhance the material’s natural texture and flavour. Its beautiful yet rigid angularity, imbued with a depth of pathos that enables the viewer to connect with the silent, trapped and untapped energy that lies within.
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