This experience is based in Singapore, along the famous shopping belt at orchard road. More specifically, it’s my encounter of entering the Opera Gallery in Ion Orchard, which showcased paintings and sculptures from relatively well-known artists. Boy, was I in for a big surprise.
Upon entering the wide open alley of the gallery at the top most floor of Ion Orchard, there was an immediate sense of calm and peace within the gallery. A comforting sort of peace if I may say. We passed by the first few paintings with little interest as usual. But when my friend stopped ( or rather HALTED) at one particular sculpture, a sculpture of 2 golden-painted women, which was a vertically inverted reflection of each other, I was puzzled. I do admit the contortionist shape of the female figures were a little surprising, but nothing spectacular in any way. This was the beginning of my education in art, kudos to my good friend, who takes and studies art in school. She opened my dusty- caked- up eyes to the beauty of art. The artist was a famous guy, Marc Quinn and he apparently took the idea of the well-known “endless columns” sculpture idea and did a short, 2 woman “column” of Kate Moss!
Then she brought me around to another exhibit, and this time, I was conscious when I read the tag on the wall, which clearly stated Marc Quinn’s name and I looked at the exhibit. A picture of 3 syringes filled with red substance and pinned up butterflies. I found that pretty fascinating. But it soon turned to a creepy disgust when my friend informed me that he had a fetish for nature and that the butterflies are real, and the red substance in the syringe? It’s blood. yes. BLOOD. From an animal, probably a pig. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she said that for I thought the syringes would contain his blood or some human being’s blood!
The next painting we saw was a beautiful picture of orchids in brilliant colours. It gave me a sense of happiness, brightness and just a general sunny outlook on life. Suddenly, everything in me seemed to turn brighter with warmth and happiness, matching the warm, bright colours these huge orchids were painted in. To my surprise, my friend turned to me and said, “You like it? This is also done by Quinn.” Can you imagine my shock? Quinn’s artwork was a dynamic range of positive thoughts and at the same time deeply disturbing perceptions. I guess it was akin to the range of emotions we have as human beings.
Let me explain why I said Quinn created deeply disturbing pieces. I saw a human skeleton sculpture painted in metallic gold, sitting in a meditation position. Around the skeleton’s skull was a wreath of orchids, all covered in gold paint too and at the foot of one of the skeleton’s cross legged position, was another huge orchid flower. And yes, if you haven’t already guessed it, the sculpture was also done by Quinn! Why did he put a human SKELETON with that of something so beautiful? ( the orchids) It seemed to me a symbol of life and death at the same time and I came away slightly startled yet amused at this paradoxical sculpture.
All in all, I learnt a lot of hidden nuances from many other paintings and sculptures from my dear friend. She really opened up my eyes to the world of art and let me see things I never would have if I were to enter the Opera Gallery on my own.
So Ladies and Gentlemen,the next time you pass by an art gallery, don’t shake it off as a place with no value. I can assure you that when you begin to read up on the background of these artists, you’ll find out the reason why they make such paintings and sculptures. If you think appreciating art simply does not add value to your life, well, you’re in for a paradigm shift. Art changes the way you see things. The way you perceive human beings and their behaviours. The way you function in any given environment. Art makes you ponder on life and love and why.