The first exhibition to show print and paper works by artist Melati Suryodarmo, titled Memento Mori will open at STPI Gallery on Sunday 24 November. It will d raw from 70 unique works and 30 editioned works created by the artist during her residency with STPI in 2018 and 2019.
Celebrated for her performance art, print and papermaking are notable new mediums of expression and avenues of exploration within Suryodarmo's practice, culminating with the solo presentation in Singapore.
The show will present a series of works that centre around the theme of abandoned spaces and the forgotten memories they contain. It is rooted in the artist's own experience—every house that she and her family has lived in, has either been demolished or repurposed. Suryodarmo also draws inspiration from some of the abandoned sites in Singapore, and the histories, identities and relationships once inhabiting them. This theme is explored through screenprints, collographs, charcoal rubbings, paper pulp paintings and paper casts.
Screenprints and collagraphs
Suryodarmo focuses on abandoned homes as witness to now neglected histories for her series of screenprints and collographs.
The screenprints depicts imagined architectural renderings of interior spaces with an artistic intervention by Suryodarmo to convey the energies that may still reside there. The collagraphs act as an expressive recreation of the screenprints with the artist, placing herself within the spaces—represented by a single square of black fur- like material. The discord between the black and its setting reflect the artist's own sentiments within disused spaces. This is further emphasised by a thin red rope, referencing Suryodarmo's past works on alienation.
This unique series of charcoal rubbings maintain the ethos found in Suryodarmo's performative works, such as the role of chance in each piece and the recurring subject of the body, its surroundings and its memories. Using charcoal, the artist applies the material with her hands into wet paper pulp to create a sense of depth and movement within the stark, black-and-white abstract projections.
For the artist, charcoal acts as important symbol of the life cycle—a source of finite energy which initially burns brightly but fades over time. Previously used in works such as I'm a Ghost in My Own House (2012), she returns to charcoal in this series of prints to further explore the concept of generation and regeneration of energy, and of birth and rebirth.
Works on paper
In her exploration of forgotten spaces, Suryodarmo uses the medium of paper as a means to explore the objectivity and subjectivity of memory.
For Suryodarmo, moss growing along surfaces of abandoned architecture becomes a 'silent witness of time'. It records the passing of time, while simultaneously representing the growth, life and destruction of its surroundings. For her residency, Suryodarmo utilised the texture of paper pulp to create striking paintings that mimic the texture of moss on a surface. They are at once beguiling while referencing the duality of their subject.
The artist created two series of paper casts for the show to show the development of memories over time. The first is comprised of large architectural casts which objectively capture various patterns and surfaces found by the artist—the concept of 'casting a memory'. The second series of casts contrasts the first by looking at much smaller features and adding pieces of mulberry fibre. Here, they reflect what happens to memories over time: how they are often amalgamated with others, augmented or truncated, coloured by emotions like love, longing or desire.
Memento Mori opens Sunday 24 November at STPI Gallery in Singapore. Free entry.
Press release courtesy STPI.
Singapore Art Week returns from 11 to 19 January 2020 with a host of island-wide events, at the centre of which is the second edition of S.E.A. Focus (16–19 January 2020) at Gillman Barracks, showcasing the best of contemporary art in Southeast Asia.