Beauty Without Splendour

by Alan Yeo . August 12, 2012



“Art cannot be divorced from faith, for to do so is to literally close our eyes to that beauty of the dying sun setting all around us. Every beauty also suffers. Death spreads all over our lives and therefore faith must be given to see through the darkness, to see through the beauty of ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’”(Makoto Fujimura)


“Departing the Departed” marks the debut of collaborative artistry of “Pang + Kanako” in their premiere exhibition at The Substation since their academic graduation. Life’s poignant and tender moments are exquisitely unravelled through their delicate array of some 6,000 over porcelain flowers beautifully crafted, a visual treat that guide your eyes to a single white lily resting in its glass receptacle conjuring an imagery of a coffin resting on a raised platform.


The idea of having a live flower that gradually passes on as part of its installation may sound morbid but it drives home the notion that “everything around you is not eternal. What you have with you now, what you see around you, could be lost in the very next moment.” The deliberate whiteness of the installation has a soothing and calming effect that invites its audience to contemplate a life stripped of its colours. It was not surprising that those who visited the gallery would return for a second visit and linger longer than usual in a quiet corner lost in their meditative world of thoughts.


Death remains a taboo subject in most society and is not an easy subject to broach on. However with “Departing the Departed,” one is just naturally drawn to ponder, reflect and discuss the subject without any inhibition and to appreciate a “beauty that exists without the need for splendour.”


“Pang + Kanako” sees Art as a visual language that communicates the “authenticity” they value. “If we do not have anything to say, we will not make something.” For 6 months from January to June 2012, they laboriously and patiently crafted the flowers from 24 bags of clay weighing 12.5kg each. Their patience edged on with the help and participation of friends in their project and despite the fragility of the materials had produced the 6000 over porcelain flowers. What was even more remarkable was their generosity in sharing their art with others. Everyone who visited the gallery was invited to bring home the porcelain flowers of their choice, a “departure” that signifies the beginning of a new journey. Like others, I carefully selected the flowers that I like and they are now sitting pretty on my desk, a reminder of life’s mortality, impermanence and beauty. Funny how one began to appreciate the beauty of that one flower that was once part of a larger collection.


“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil or spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (ESV, Matthew 6:28-30) 


For those who have missed the installation at The Substation or would like to view it again, “Departing the Departed” is also presented as part of a group show at Sculpture Square's 'I Am Here To Stay'. It will run through till end August 2012.