STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery is pleased to present In Praise of Silence 寂靜在說話, a solo exhibition by Singaporean artist Jane Lee, curated by Tan Siuli. Running from 29 July to 3 September 2023, the exhibition showcases a measured, monochromatic new series that explores light and shadow, black and white, yin and yang, as fundamental principles that shape our understanding of the world around us.
Moving from the playful colours of her previous STPI showcase Freely, Freely in 2016, Lee demonstrates a markedly different conceptual approach in her latest residency at STPI, influenced by Eastern philosophy and a thoughtful retreat to austerity in form and expression. The new dimensions in her artistic practice are a testament to the spirit of trust and collaboration between the artist and STPI’s workshop team. These works reveal deep expertise and innovation to exceed material boundaries and known papermaking techniques.
Jane Lee, be – still, 2023, Airbrushed cel vinyl paint stencilled on crushed clear quartz, on cement coated paper casting, 14.5 x 15 x 6 cm; 15 x 15 x 11.5 cm. © Jane Lee / STPI. Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.
The exhibition’s title In Praise of Silence 寂靜在說話 draws inspiration from Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s seminal essay, In Praise of Shadows, which posits the existence of shadows as an accent for beauty, while touchpoints in the exhibition nod to the Dao De Jing (also known as The Book of the Way), an ancient Chinese treatise on wisdom by philosopher Laozi. This new cycle of her practice is clearly embodied in the profound minimalism and intense focus on the idea of the absolute, bringing to fore a primordial quality to her latest works.
This notion of rebirth, essence, and the absolute is given form through symbolic egg sculptures casted in STPI’s paper room. In 1 to 2 and 2 to 3 (both 2023) the egg motif is featured in its cracked state, echoing the binary forces held within the contours of a circle — a void, the end of a single whole, but also the birth of new life and new energy. In be – still and be – silence (both 2023), these small, paper sculptures comprise two halves of an egg shell, the interiors of which have been inscribed with their titular mantras. The image and metaphor of cracking also finds its place in many spiritual teachings, where enlightenment is often achieved through a breakthrough of consciousness.
Jane Lee, 1 to 2, 2023, Crushed citrine on paper casting, assembled on STPI handmade paper, 138.5 x 138.5 x 13.5 cm. © Jane Lee / STPI. Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.
Jane Lee, om #1; om #2; om #3, 2023, Crushed agate on STPI handmade paper, 35 x 65.5 x 3.8 cm. © Jane Lee / STPI. Photo courtesy of the artist and STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.
Exploring this thread, Lee incorporates crystals into her material field, supported by the expertise of the STPI Creative Workshop in finding innovative ways to creatively embed these semi-precious stones into handmade paper. Inlaid into the crevices of the cracked egg shells, their shine and lustre conjure images of galaxies and deep time. For the om series (2023), Lee worked with an assortment of minerals that included amethyst, lapis lazuli, jade, citrine, and more; she channelled her fascination with the intrinsic qualities of crystals, carefully applying them on STPI handmade paper in varying degrees of fineness to reveal their depths and textures. In doing so, the artist invites us to attune our sensitivities to their vibrational fields and transcendental energy.
STPI continues its innovative work as a leading art space in the region, championing Singapore and international artists by facilitating a global creative community through strong networks. Jane Lee is widely acknowledged for her talent, excellence, and groundbreaking contributions to the contemporary art scene. With her innovative use of materials and captivating artistic vision, Lee has established herself as a leading figure in the local and international art community. This presentation coincides with Lee’s institutional solo show LILA: Unending Play, running concurrently at the Singapore Art Museum from 18 May to 24 September 2023.