It was International Women’s Day of this year and I remember busting my ass painting a portrait and being a dull girl while Soph happily paints bacon, eggs, and nipple-shaped clouds on the floor above me, smelling faintly of gin and spray paint; she’s a ray of sunshine at three in the morning. A fringe bang short from being Dora the Explorer, she’s always curious and ready to go out into the world, with a spring in her step, maybe a flask in hand (or backpack, because Dora) and a fistful of paint.
Here’s a share-worthy exchange that took place in conjunction with the artist’s debut solo, Logic Chromatic.
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We like to live dangerously so let’s go straight to the deep end. What were your experiences of psychological and physical displacement like behind this upcoming solo show?
I tend to travel out of Singapore for extended amounts of time. When I embark on these trips, I do so with great excitement — I love the idea of being free to experience a new place full of sights, sounds and smells. There’s so much to absorb from both historical sites and cosmopolitan cities, they both share so many similarities. They are layered with details, information and ultimately document life. Even in unfamiliar places, the eye captures traces of home.
We’re at our most natural state in our homes, yet it is filled with man-made objects. When I’m creating works on-site, my immediate surroundings become my home and the project is one that documents the efforts to create a safe space. Once the project is over, these remnants of memories are packed up and often never see the light of day again.
Does your headspace often operate within a lived or imagined reality? How does that affect your art?
Both! That’s why science fiction delights me. It allows the imagination to take control and resulting creative energies often spill over to reality. There’s so much knowledge that is still unknown to us. We live in an age that is advancing at a tremendous rate, where information is so freely available to us yet we know so little. This work was informed by readings about dark matter, cosmic dust and atomic particles, and microscopic views of the infinite landscapes and cityscapes around us. The ink illustrations are based loosely on these readings but then drawn from memory. Art making is an intimate process. The smell and the feel of the saw dust, the touch of the wood while painting (sometimes finger-painting) — these interactions are personal but somehow detached. The results are an impression of an impression, abstract pieces derived from, but nearly foreign to the end illustrations. All the layers of meaning have been stripped down into a visual landscape of forms and colour.
I’m just trying to make sense of these worlds.
A solo show is an introduction to the artist, what would you like people to learn about you in this show?
I don’t want them to necessarily learn much about me but instead more about my work!
Gotcha. What would you like the audience to takeaway from the show instead?
The show is presented in three rooms. The first has the finished paintings which are accompanied by a site-specific floor painting. The second room takes these forms and colours and further abstracts them. The third room is guarded by a cascade of rubber bands; an intimate zone where the illustrations, reference books and prints are presented alongside plants and wall text. My intentions is to allow the audience to experience the works first before moving into the room where they can experience some of the safe-home which was generated here.
Million-dollar question: Art for art’s sake or message-driven art?
Strange question. I think art doesn’t have to solve a problem. It can question, evoke conversations, draw parallels, be layered onto existing knowledge, et cetera. It is a field unto itself. Artistic intentions are important but I think the birth of the reader has meant the death of the author.
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P.S. Here’s a parting selfie from the artist for good measure:
Logic Chromatic is the first major solo show by Soph O investigating the push and pull between the natural organic world and our constructed, man-made realities.
The new body of work presented draws reference from the artist’s constant preoccupation with her own psychological and physical displacement, inviting dialogue around the themes of lived vs. imagined realities, the notion of ‘unnatural nature’ as well as evolutionary dislocation.
Logic Chromatic will be running at UltraSuperNew until Saturday, May 12th, with an intimate closing party happening on the last day. Swing by for a healthy dose of colour and inspiration if you haven’t!