As CapitaLand Singapore’s premium residential project d’Leedon, designed by world renowned ‘Starchitect’ Zaha Hadid, opened its gate for the occupants to move in, an extraordinary sculpture, installed some months ago at the condominium estate’s Leedon Heights entrance was unveiled and has started to catch the eyes of residents, visitors and passersby alike. This work by Lebanese sculptor Nadim Karam, titled Wishing Flower, is extraordinary because it goes into the realm of fantasy - we do not see a creature like this in real life – is it a flower, a windmill, or a person?
Now at d’Leedon, even the architecture has an element of fantasy, for the architect thinks of the buildings as flowers. Imagine 36-storey towers as giant buds pointing towards the sky, with their petals peeling away as the flowers start to open. In fact you don’t have to imagine - the seven flower towers of the estate in their full splendor are now here for all to see.
Designed to Harmonise
It is not by coincidence that Wishing Flower complements this theme. It is all by design. For when my colleagues in the CapitaLand Singapore (Residential) Design Management team planned the art programme for this project, they consciously wanted artworks, both at the main entrance and in a sculptor garden within the estate, to have a mythical and whimsical theme to complement the architecture. Nadim was briefed thoroughly about the architecture before he developed the concept for his sculpture.
Having Nadim on board was not by coincidence either. Some months before the planning of the artworks at d’Leedon, he happened to be in Singapore and came to our office to talk about his work. There is something childlike about the animalesque/humanoid forms that he draws, paints or sculpts that is very appealing. I learnt, at a later stage, that they have echoes of influences spanning from ancient hieroglyphics or cave paintings to modern manga. We were also impressed by his preoccupation with movement in public art projects such as The Travelers along the Sandridge Bridge in Melbourne. Equally impressive was his attention to technical details, which came across strongly in his narration. As architects, we would like to think that this might have something to do with his background as an architect. Nadim was our first choice when considering the d’Leedon entrance sculpture.
Born in 1957, this architect-painter-sculptor grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. He received his education in Beirut and later in Tokyo. His disciplined approach to projects manifested very strongly when it came to the execution of this work. The whole sculpture, consisting of the body as one piece and each flat blade or petal as distinct parts, was manufactured in a workshop in Beirut, assembled then taken apart for ease of transportation to Singapore, which was then assembled again on location. Nadim himself came here to supervise the installation.
Designed for Perfection
While on location, Nadim made two significant changes to his own creation. First, the creature would walk towards the estate instead of away from it as originally conceived. We liked that for then it carried the message of “coming home”. And I like to think of the creature as going in to attend a party at the sculpture park, meeting Spanish artist Juan Ripolle’s Enchanting Girl and dancing to the guitar music of Singapore artist Lim Leong Seng’s Melody of Life, coolly observed by the ever evasive golden bird perching on Chinese artist Xie Ai Ge’s Infinity Tree. Oops – an indulgence in fantasy on my part!
The other change had to do with the name of the sculpture. Originally named “Windmill Flower”, Nadim was suddenly inspired to rename it “Wishing Flower” after seeing it at its final setting. What a wonderful name! We were all excited and, together with Nadim, developed a lyrical text that appeared in our CapitaLand Art information plaque displayed alongside the work:
Part child, part flower, this playful work by Lebanese sculptor Nadim Karam engages us in the realm of fantasy. Within the petals are overlapping characters taken from the artist’s rich vocabulary of whimsical forms, reminding us of his larger family of city sculptures which he fondly terms “Urban Toys”. Nadim says of this sculpture, “Wishing Flower is the instant when childhood dreams, innocent and fantastical, scatter their magic to the wind.”
Poetic, isn’t it?
This article is contributed by CapitaLand Chief of Art Management, Francis Wong Hooe Wai