At first glance, it would be easy for some to overlook the layered complexities which multi-disciplinary Singaporean artist, A’shua Imran brings to his body of paintings, titled "La Rouge". This deceptively simple collection of red painted canvases bound with rope do not only appear to ask similar questions of the medium of painting as Modern Masters the likes of Rothko did, but also provide the viewer with snapshots into Imran's chance encounter with a community of ‘shibari’ artists - rope bondage practitioners.
As alluded to earlier, these works do draw correlations to many of the Modernist "restrictions" the medium of painting provides. The flatly painted red canvases wrapped with rope certainly open themselves to readings which could point in these directions. The initial usage of the dominant colour red commonly attributed to love are expanded upon to include emotions such as passion and human desire. This expansion comes about from the artist’s keen observations of the intuitive relationship between ‘shibari’ partners. These works now take on a richer, more dynamic conceptual framework.
It’s at this point where Imran's penchant towards disruption reveals itself. It's an element he often uses in his performances, where he instructs his collaborating performers to disrupt the nature of a space. In his La Rouge paintings, the expectations and nature of the painted canvas are disrupted once again; this time with the addition of rope which encases each canvas in a web-like weaving.
However, beyond serving as a purely aesthetic devise, Imran's treatment of each rope mimics that of the treatment of ropes used in some ‘shibari’ performances. A long and tedious process involving the boiling of ropes in hot water, drying, stretching, oiling & burning off excess hairs. By doing this, A’shua Imran imparts elements of sensuality usually reserved for and shared by some ‘shibari’ practitioners and transfers them onto the inanimate canvas. He subverts our initial readings of both canvas and rope, reintroducing both, not as red canvas bound by rope, but instead as red canvas freed of the expectation of the medium via the addition of the rope.
by: Nolan Stevens
(Curator, Johannesburg, South Africa)
“Reality is More Virtual Than Virtual Reality”
A’shua Imran’s practice is important to us because of its rawness
and focus on touch and tactility. In this performance, the arbitrary
forms and shapes controlled by Imran’s skill indicate a natural,
earth-created mimicry of life’s movements.
Here he continues his practice of using clay from when he was an
assistant artist to a master sculptor for a large-scale ceramic
mural at Marina South Pier MRT. An entirely improvised
collaboration on the rooftop of a ship at Marina South Pier, the
viewer is drawn into a strange journey or procession of the
movement of a body imprinted through clay and open space,
guided or agitated by the sporadic sounds in the background. He
“Clay signifies a tool to build community. The role of an
artist and viewer in a performance is challenged through
the invitation of the audience to reconstruct the process of
the 'artists'.” (email, Apr 11 2017)
Amongst his active involvement in mural projects with public and
private educational systems, corporate and community groups,
he also founded an independent platform Mural Lingo through
which he trains young artists and designers to collaborate on
mural painting projects.
- X (x-online.sg)
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