John Berger, English art critic, once said, “Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one.” In accordance, Arundhati Roy wrote, “There can never be a single story. There are only ways of seeing. So when I tell a story, I tell it not as an ideologue who wants to pit one absolutist ideology against another, but as a story-teller who wants to share her way of seeing.”
This exhibition features three collections by Shaumyika Sharma. Three themes with three different artistic modes of production, Sharma’s influences range from modern and contemporary art to architecture and design. Sharma’s mother was also a great influence during her developing years and she gives much tribute to her for teaching Sharma about art.
At the front of the space, our viewer is presented with The Seasons – a mixed media series of four collages exploring the theme of change. Towards the middle wall, a twin set series of past and present explores the notion of memories and is depicted through a series of photos taken when she was a young girl, entitled Childhood Dreams. The third series, facing the back of the space, two strikingly blue images made up of smaller individual ones explores quite a popular theme in Singapore – food and our interactions with it.
Artist’s statement: Architecture can seem permanent and static, yet the seasons impact it visually, transforming its appearance over time, and technically, affecting materials and inhabitation. The seasons represent change and are a reminder that architecture can’t be conceived of as purely static.
Seasons IV is a mixed media series of four collages depicting the changes Sharma’s felt during her time spent in New York. The idea sprung from a series of drawings she had from childhood and was later influenced by Cy Twombly’s The Four Seasons, where Sharma was inspired to create new work to express the language between space and time in her professional and city life.
Here’s a quick glimpse into some of her childhood drawings which we absolutely adore:
And in case some of you were wondering about Cy Twombly’s The Four Seasons, here’s what they look like:
Executed with an eye for composition and detail, Sharma will be using watercolours, acrylics with paintbrushes and found objects such as magazines and discarded materials such as corrugated card and foil from her studio to compose a new and lively series that is reminiscent of her previous work, influences and in a lot of ways, cubist art.
Artist’s statement: In the timeline of a design project, photos are more or less the first and last step. As a child I took these black and white photos at a school and developed the film in a dark room, soon after which I decided to study architecture. Revisiting the site last year, I captured the same locations in full colour with a digital camera. Recalling pre-digital photographic processes, both sets of photos are presented as enlarged negatives.
This series came about when Sharma presented her portfolio, which included photos from when she was a child. Why she had them in there, she wasn’t quite sure but they were first seen at the Highline Open Studios, a bi-annual event in New York City allowing artists of the West Chelsea district to open their studios to the public. It sparked a conversation between us about memories and what it would feel like to go back to the exact spot and take the same picture.
“Going back there was a revelation as I remembered being really happy, feeling like I was somewhere where I could be free to explore ideas, creativity, without feeling embarrassed about being studious.”
The black and white images were originally processed as slides and are the photos she took when she was still a young girl. They are processed as a negative image today to inform our viewer that “we never remember things exactly as they were…” And perhaps that is why the images that she took today when she revisited the same spot last December have the same subject matter but are not duplicates/replicas of the images taken over 20 years ago. Our memories are never 100% accurate, the wider the gap between past and present.
Artist’s statement: Cyanotype, the photographic process used to make blueprints, intrigues me as a way of studying light and shadow. In this series, the raw ingredients from two dishes-laksa and biryani-are composed to form imagined landscapes, using skills similar to those used in model-making. The pieces are intended to explore the disconnect between agricultural processes and city-dwellers in relation to food.
Much has been written about food in Singapore. No other subject is better suited to smartphone camera shots than food. Whether these shots are for the purpose of keeping a personal record of great places one has patronised, or for the instagramification of social life, more people are snapping photos of their favourite dishes than ever before.
Blue Topoi explores food culture in Singapore and consists of discrete and disparate images of: Laksa and Biryani, two of the most commonly found dishes at public housing food shops and hawker centres, places indigenous to Singapore’s food and urban landscape. In this series, Sharma deliberately considered every ingredient that makes up the essence of each dish’s recipe and gives us a new perspective of how food can look when framed. By rearranging each ingredient to create a surrealistic landscape, Sharma’s images look entirely different from a typical laksa or biryani. Each image can be taken apart and appreciated on its own but the images are more inviting together.
Using one of the earliest forms of photography, Cyanotype, otherwise known to some as a Photogram, the medium seems to counter the speed at which photos of food are being taken and posted onto social media platforms, quite simply for the instant gratification of getting “liked”. Little goes into truly appreciating the skills and processes that go into making that dish.
By looking at this series, we’re lead to think about what an ingredient actually looks like, the ingredients that go into each recipe, the colours and the flavours of that dish, which have been stripped down to their basic shapes and form.