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Looking In Is The Only Way Out
By Soh Ee Shaun
21 November 2015 - 9 January 2016 (Reception: 20 November 2015)
In LOOKING IN IS THE ONLY WAY OUT, we’re seeing Ee Shaun’s art rounding a curve. His latest works see him decisively striking out on a trajectory that was up to this point incipient but backgrounded in his art. It’s a risky move for him, artistically – where much of what we might characterise as the ‘kooky’ first phase of his art made him immediately accessible and appealing – with its renderings of faces clearly marked by blissful delight or trepidation, he seems to be continuing deeper into abstract territory, where colour, composition and shapes serve as the vehicles for emotion and meaning.
At a first glance, the shapes are the same, the composition familiar – but what we might term the elements of human action – the factory chimneys and their cloudpuffs, the funnels and forlorn fingers and paint spills and teardrops – these are gone, resolved into bands of colour. The sense of haste and waste are gone, transmuted into a second innocence.
It’s that mastery and ease of perspective shifting, of ways of seeing - that really jumps up, when you look at his exhibition it its totality. There are pieces which feel like we’ve zoomed in on parts of his other artworks. With other works, like ‘What’s done is finished’ (2015), there’s a clarification of vision, a zooming out and defocusing. It’s as if his gaze has become more versatile in its ability to focus and unfocus at will. As if there’s a message in there for us, somewhere.
Individually, Ee Shaun’s pieces are invitations to play, to just for a little while get caught up in the gloops, whorls, ridges and pleats of his shapes. It is in likening Ee Shaun’s newest art to mandalas, that we can perhaps most productively understand the turn that his art is taking. As a carrier of positive intention, as an expression of deep levels of the unconscious, as a contemplative tool for the stilling of what has been termed the monkey mind and for experimenting with new ways of seeing – Ee Shaun’s artworks check all of these boxes. This is art as the contemplation of sheer magical possibility, the artwork as a crystallisation of one set of potentialities, one pearl in a string of infinite worlds.