“What has occurred in this future? A kernel of thought transformed by a collaborative mind. A tint of shadow, a strange loop, parsing text and shapes in ellipsis and ellipses. All of that, in a sense of place that is now, granular.”
– Genevieve Chua
STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery is pleased to present grrrraaanularrrrrrr, a solo exhibition by leading Singapore artist Genevieve Chua, curated by Reuben Keehan, curator of Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Running from 14 January to 26 February 2023, the exhibition showcases a texturally evocative new series that creatively explores the multiple quirks and angles of materiality, reality and identity — a clever play on technology’s role in the rhythms of contemporary human experience.
grrr,,,.aanuular,,,,,,,] brings together experiments that Chua has conducted while in residence at STPI since 2021. It consists of several bodies of work: series of shaped canvases, sandpaper pieces and cement constructions (evocatively titled Typestracts, Breeze Blocks and Pathways), as well as standalone pieces in two-and-a- half dimensions.
Pathway #2, Steadfast, 2022, Eyelets, magnets and thread on casted STPI handmade paper with cement mixture, oak wood frame, 86.6 x 76 x 10 cm. © Genevieve Chua / STPI.
A painter by training, Chua’s primary medium is the pictorial plane, which serves as both a device for creating allusion and illusion, using a tangible surface to open a window to other worlds while still firmly rooted in this one. Even Chua’s forays into sculpture refer to the geometry of the canvas or the page, as an extension of the playfully subversive spirit that animates the artist’s work in painting and printmaking. While these objects occupy three-dimensional space, their constant thematic oscillation back to Chua’s pictorial work— which might be better described as planar—could be conceived as a certain reduction, a collapse or folding into Chua’s familiar space of two-and-a-half dimensions.
In a series of relief sculptures constructed using cement paper, Chua explores the tonal variations and porous quality of the material. The largest of these, Blink, is perhaps the simplest in composition, an off-kilter, semi-circular depression that cuts dramatically into the surface at its lower edge, easing into a gentle incline as it rises upwards. Apex and Depressions is more complicated, a conjunction of right angles, curves, and sharp corners. Chua was drawn to how the application of sealant highlighted the texture of the surfaces to create an almost painterly variance in tone that recalls cubist and futurist experiments in pictorial construction and depth when an image of the work is viewed on a computer screen.
Apex and Depressions, 2022, STPI handmade paper cast with cement mixture on dibond, 44.5 x 25.4 x 3.5 cm. © Genevieve Chua / STPI.
Raw tonality is further navigated in Chua’s Breeze Blocks, which are composed on a computer, and focus on a single form in repetition and variation. Named for the open bricks that provide natural ventilation in concrete structures, they are illustrated in acrylic on unprimed linen, with an elemental quality that recalls the texture of their namesakes. Produced systematically, the artist starts with a shape (Chua describes this as a ‘slab’), later diagonally multiplied and tessellated using design software. The forms appear to flutter or cascade across the surface of the linen, in stutters resembling the jagged digital artefacts of a window dragged across a desktop screen, before coalescing in pools of white ink.
Breeze Blocks #35, 2022, Acrylic on linen, 39.5 x 31.5 x 5 cm. © Genevieve Chua / STPI.
In Headset, a cement paper construction, the work’s title refers to virtual reality headsets, the devices required to access immersive and occasionally interactive 360-degree audio-visual presentations, among them certain versions of the metaverse. It compels us to question how technology has evolved the way we navigate the material and virtual world, and the distortions of identity caused by traversing these separate planes.
Headset #1, Open Ended, 2022, STPI handmade paper cast with cement mixture on dibond, 44 x 28 x 7.5 cm. © Genevieve Chua / STPI.
A testament to Chua’s enduring relationship with STPI, this show is the product of collaborating with the Creative Workshop team to refine the artist’s field of artistic exploration. With a title that takes many forms, ggg>>rrrrranularrrrrr asks audiences to consider what they see, vis-a-vis the response of other senses, to stimulate recollections of depth, touch, sound and the bodily registers of speech. In her latest body of work, the artist uses an array of materials and methods to give form to the exploration of planular subtexts by subverting our expectations of the print and paper medium.