We are pleased to present a solo exhibition by prolific Los Angeles-based artist Pae White. Having arrived in Singapore for an STPI residency in 2018, the artist allowed herself to be guided by the space, people, food, presented opportunities and Singapore itself. These factors informed the multiple series of works realised through chance and collaboration with the Creative Workshop team. Such encounters and relationships provided her with a profound experience whose effects carry forward till today. It is this connection and closeness that forms the basis of Friendship is Magic.
Taking reference from her large-scale three-dimensional thread installations spelling out words, White's flocked alphabet and numerical works are an exercise in exploring space in the two-dimensional realm. The typeface itself is a custom design developed in the artist's studio, titled GHOST FACE. In an optical illusion-like manner, the dazzling prism effect created by the multicoloured flocking technique suggests a certain volume that seemingly jumps out from the paper. The fibre from the flocking itself creates a real solidity and depth by a microscopic amount—measurable by the millimetre—to complicate the idea of occupying space. And alluding back to the sentiments behind Friendship is Magic, the flocked work UNLOST (2018) speaks to her time spent wandering all around Singapore. Though it being her first time here, there was hardly any sense of being lost but rather of feeling right at home.
The GRAYSCAPES series (2018) similarly examines space. Using threads to create space on a two-dimensional plane, the material was expertly, almost surgically, sewed onto paper with the support of the workshop team. This created the same prismatic effect seen in her flocking words. Put together side by side, the undulating landscapes of floating letters and numbers impart a sense of lyricism, rhythm and movement. At the same time, there is the tension of struggling to come together, both within the canvas and from one GRAYSCAPE work to another.
Heavily utilising the embossing technique on bronze, cream and silver papers for her Hearing Things series (2018), the works evoke a feeling of a certain something, perhaps a sound or some small chaos, going on yet being indiscernible, which the artist likens to an "afterimage". The use of a simple, commercially produced paper stock that uses a mirror metallic coating suggests the elevation of a basic object to something elaborate and extraordinary – and in this case, almost ornamental and jewellery-like in nature.
Her accordion books recall the artist's own inclinations toward designing and collecting books, as well as her love for stained glass. The paper materials themselves connote the idea of strength and fragility. Inserted into the sturdier frame are untreated mulberry papers (bleached and unbleached) and lettuce papers made largely from lettuce and a binding agent. Through this kind of translucency and malleability in being, the work holds open the space for change and transformation to occur over time.
Especially relevant in times of social distancing and a lesser degree of human interaction, Friendship is Magic reminds us of the unexpected yet especially rewarding—and for White, magical—outcomes that can occur when we are given the space to connect and find inspiration from one another.
Press release courtesy STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery.