Emerging Singapore-born artist TAN SHAO QI finds endless inspiration in nature and all its quiet, ever-evolving phenomena. Having grown up in in Singapore, where the urban landscape is constantly changing as new infrastructure is tirelessly being built across the city, Tan turns her gaze towards the unseen, overlooked changes in the city’s natural environment. She employs mediums connected to documenting such as paper and photography, evoking how the fragments of flora she captures are poignantly transient, vulnerable to being lost at any moment—and must thus be recorded into permanence. Time is thus a crucial force in her practice: she holds a profound awareness of the inevitable passing of time and its effect on the environment, but at the same time, it is as if she resists its fleetingness by pouring lengthy amounts of time into meticulously capturing every detail in her highly intricate pieces, making visible all the textures, patterns and shapes that give even the smallest and most insignificant parts of nature its inherent beauty.
For her series in the show, Tan transforms her signature paper-cut pieces of dry and decomposing leaves into exquisitely complex, delicate white porcelain pieces. Though one can instantly recognise the thin, skeletal details of the leaves in these works, Tan assembles and entwines these elements of flora into almost abstract compositions, bringing new life into their forms that move beyond their functions in nature.
In Little Ironweed I and Little Ironweed II, she recreates dozens of these decaying leaves, attaches them evenly together and forms them into one circular shape—assembling what would have otherwise been discarded parts of nature together into an almost sacred, unbreakable union.
LITTLE IRONWEED I
40 x 3.6 cm
LITTLE IRON WEED II
45 x 4.5 cm
In Rain Tree, the leaves are, rather than spread apart, piled and tangled together on the left side, appearing like gentle bones on the verge of disappearing into dust. As she renders these nature abstractions in porcelain—a material vulnerable to breaking with just one negligent shake or movement—Tan makes monument of their fragility. These porcelain pieces implore audiences to not only be aware of the ephemerality of natural things, but to see precisely the value and raw beauty in all their stages, especially the moments closest to their demise.
50 x 7.5 cm