Silhouette Of The Mind 2017 (By Chon Chong San Solo Exhibition)


Artist: Chon Chong San Solo Exhibition
Exhibition Period : 10th – 20 July 2017
Time : 9:00 – 18:00
Venue : The Gallery at Dasein Academy of Art

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by Kim Ng
Head of Fine Art, Dasein Academy of Art.
Perhaps it is the quest of self-doubt in art making and of seeking an answer on how far he can push in figure form making, Chon Chong San adapts various methods and materials to deal with human figure form, ranging from clay with its primitive forming means to painting and drawing in his latest artistic manoeuvres. He exhibits the intellectual process of thought and creation through different materials and art forms.
Clay, a common and malleable material which can be put to use in different forms yet usage is often trapped by ones’ limited perceptions. Chong San’s idea and interest in figure-based clay sculpture derived from his long term practice, particularly during his art training back in the early 80s at the Kuala Lumpur College of Art, where figure painting and drawing were the core of his fine art studies. Transforming the idea of painting and drawing into three- dimensional figure sculptures, Chong San pays much attention to the use of dots, lines and planes in the making of his clay figure forms. The theory of the essential visual language in painting and drawing are translated into his figure sculptures to capture the fleeting moment of human motion in various directions, which provides an indication of his appreciation in Cubism, one of the most influential art styles in the twentieth-century.
There is no significant motive to Chong San’s making of clay figures. His passion lies in human forms, which he observes and records through other means of expression then exhibits in an expressive way with clay material in three-dimensional format. The relationship between materials and his theme of art represents the physical and psychological nature of Chong San himself, which he later developed into a different media of art including painting and drawing after a series of figure sculpture making.
Some of the clay figures seems to have influenced by British sculptor Henry Moore in particular and Spanish artist Joan Miro. The twist and turns of organic shapes in the figure sculptures are sensuous, flowing in rhythm as if the internal space is exposed for breathing, and at the same time intuitive enough to retain its originality and of artist’s aesthetic decision. Therefore when coming across Chong San’s clay figure sculptures, one has to scrutinize to realize the information it provides, the visual details complimenting the material language to offers the viewers to discover for themselves, and inviting the viewers to question what they are seeing.
Chong San uses a variety of local clay to form his human figure forms including low-firing red clay, buff and off white stoneware clay. Most of the clay figures are hand shaped at its initial stage and combined with coiling and slab-build methods later to achieve the desired shapes. The whole process of making involves carving to remove excessed clay during the figure making, and at the same time modelling method is introduced to gradually build up the desired figure form. It is by these taking off and adding on process that the final clay figure form is born. Fine sand is added to the clay for stability and to introduce tactile quality to the clay figure forms during the process of making and firing. The finished clay figures goes through a drying process, and then polished with different grades of sand paper at its bone-dry stage before firing at a low temperature in order to retain the quality and original colour of the clay and for additional sanding after the low firing process.
The human figure form sculpture is always a significance in contemporary art making. But, to Chong San, it is just a practice that he likes to explore and to see how far he can exaggerate and push his imagination further. His body of works provide clay figure sculptures making a new perspective through his unique touch with clay material. His work makes an unique statement to define the essence of his style, it does not imitate shapes but to create a complex form of his own.