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Three Studies on Abstraction and Existence

#1 - Blind Portrait

Dimensions: 60 x 84 (cm)

Medium: oil, acrylic, ink, charcoal powder, watercolour on paper

In “Blind Portrait”, I experimented with a new form of art – painting by touch. Like what its name suggests, I completed the painting with my eyes closed and painted myself by tracing my contours with my fingers and making marks simultaneously. Painting in this way almost seems paradoxical because we have come to associate the very act of making art with the act of seeing.

My “blind” painting, therefore, seeks to challenge this tradition.

I used a wide range of colours, mediums, and tools painted on top of each other to create visual depths and perspectives, revealing many forms of myself – different but the same. The large size of the paper enabled me to paint expressively, and my upper body moved with each stroke carved enthusiastically. I was inspired by the action paintings in Abstract Expressionism, in which artists painted with spontaneity and intensity of gestural movements. By applying similar concepts to my self-portrait, I wanted to show that our understanding of ourselves, or anyone, is often restricted to the doors of visual perception, and infinity awaits us if we unchain ourselves from one sense.

#2 - Blind Portrait of Self: Monster Underneath My Bed

| There is a monster underneath every child’s bed. But what if it is no more a monster than ourselves?

Dimensions: 50 x 60 (cm)

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

I have always struggled with fear. Fear of darkness, worms, silence, abandonment, of Mama and Papa never coming back… but most frightening was my fear of self – that one day, I might find out the truth about myself that I was ordinary, an empty shell, that there was nothing in me worth applauding. All these fears, I attributed to the wickedness of the monster.

For years, I feared being alone – asleep, in showers, on bus routes – because it left me vulnerable to the monster. I made sure I was always surrounded by people, my existence well-protected with deafening music, and the yellow lamp on at night. But as the pandemic forcefully sent me into exile in solitude, I began talking to the monster.

I came to understand the monster underneath my bed that I was so afraid of was nothing but fear itself. So when I pulled up the linen and looked into the dusty darkness, all I saw was a whimpering, curled-up figure of a girl – the reflection of myself.

#2 - Slumberland

| Is it that our whole vision was never quite complete, that it was too transient and not always well-informed?

Dimensions: 50 x 60 (cm)

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

I painted this to capture the moment of falling asleep when the border between dream and reality deliquesces and mingles. Like the dark and light colours blending into each other, the two lands entangle. Visions, no longer concrete yet always demanding remembrance, become a succession of distorted, ephemeral pictures, like the geometric patterns painted. Time, the measure of all things, fails itself in this enigmatic realm, hence explaining the clock without hands. The crimson blob is at once alarming and inviting, appearing as both the closest and the furthest point in the painting, embodying an entrance into slumberland and a reminder of what is left behind.


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