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Solo exhibition of Singaporean artist Sherman Ong opens at Art Plural Gallery
Sherman Ong, MONSOON - the mechanics of rain, mobility and intervention #2. Photo: Sherman Ong courtesy of Art Plural Gallery.

SINGAPORE.- Art Plural Gallery announces Spurious Stories from the Land and Water, the solo exhibition of Singaporean artist Sherman Ong running from April, 24 to May 31, 2014 at Third Floor - Art Plural Gallery. The exhibition features two photography series Monsoon and Spurious Landscapes as well as a short film.

Born in 1971 in Malaysia and based in Singapore, Sherman Ong’s work centres on the relationships between humans and their environment. Addressing the climate difficulties in South East Asia, he broadens his speech to borderless issues, travelling around the world to voice the crises he meets. Photographs and videos express the characters’ loss and breathlessness in spaces ruled by uncontrollable telluric forces.

Sherman Ong’s captured instants do not relate to any human active struggle against an undisciplined nature. Surprisingly, humidity, monsoon, droughts are the dominant subjects of the work. Characters are mainly seen seated or acting as in an everyday and imperturbable life where elements violently unleash. Hoping for the best and devoted to time, a consensus seems to be understood by the depicted men and women: “life goes on”, radical but necessary choice?

A true photographer, Sherman Ong does not shape reality but shows it bare and raw. An external perspective on the drama reveals the human state of mental desertion from inhabited spaces. Physically present but not strictly occupying the premises, characters are none other than alienated temporary visitors. Movements, storms, accidents dictate and overtake any will. In the Monsoon series, people hide, protecting their faces against the wind, symbolically giving away their identity, lost in waves of changes. Sherman Ong likes to quote art critic and author John Berger: “Landscapes can be deceptive. Sometimes a landscape seems to be less a setting for the life of its inhabitants than a curtain behind which their struggles, achievements and accidents take place.”

The known and the unknown are porous notions. Framed in a nature that has always existed and accompanied their life, humans are still strangers on earth. Whether trapped in an overpopulated oppressive city or isolated in an immense stretch of land, they are but elements of landscape…

“I am interested in exploring the intersection between the natural world and human nature, between landscape and body, offering an alternative viewpoint to the banal, while eliciting subtle beauty in everyday life”, says Sherman Ong. Indeed, his absurd and sometimes surrealist settings pay tribute to the survival beauty, ignoring cycles and pointing out a fluid continuity.

“We are delighted to exhibit Sherman Ong’s work on Third Floor at Art Plural Gallery. Through people’s life and a high psychological sensitivity, Sherman Ong smoothly depicts our relationships with a changing environment. He is dedicated to show a reality that cannot be ignored today. This exhibition is also in dialogue with our newest publication - Art Plural, Voices of Contemporary Art, featuring Sherman Ong.” – Frédéric de Senarclens, founder and director of Art Plural Gallery.

Sherman Ong is a filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. His practice has always centred on the human condition and our relationships with others within the larger milieu. Ong develops a wide corpus on various themes linked by his photographic fragile and moving aesthetics. Human figures evolving in disrupted public places and overwhelmed by the changing nature of space – affected by the monsoon, the wildness or the bundling up of urban sites, seem to be looking for a localised identity. Seeking relationships and belongings, characters are often immortalised in action as if the latter was a unique conveyor of meaning, the only common ground in such a varied and fluid environment. Is space escaping or are humans running away from it? Sherman Ong patterns and unfolds this recurrent question structured by the paradoxical human quest and suspicion to infrastructures.

Winner of the 2010 ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award, Sherman has premiered works in Art Biennales, major Film Festivals and Museums around the world, including the Venice, Singapore and Jakarta Biennales, Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, Musee du Quai Branly Paris, Centre Pompidou Paris, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Noorderlicht Photo Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Video Brasil International Electronic Art Festival, Singapore Art Museum, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Queensland Art Gallery, South Australia Contemporary Art Centre and Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, Lithuania. In 2009, he was invited to participate in the Singapore Pavilion, Venice Biennale which garnered a Special Mention. He collaborated on the Little Sun project headed by Olafur Eliasson which premiered at the Tate Modern London in Sept 2012. He is currently working on a Norwegian-Danish-Singapore film ‘Lucy & I’ and will be part of the Fukuoka Triennale 2014. His works are in the collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Singapore Art Museum and the Seoul Art Centre Korea.

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