Part of the bright red The Elevation of Togetherness seen against the background of Sky Habitat's off-white architecture
Part of the bright red The Elevation of Togetherness seen against the background of Sky Habitat’s off-white architecture

Belgium Artist Daisy Boman creates hot “bo-men” in cool frames for Sky Habitat

I remember learning to represent human figures in drawings when I was a first-year architecture student. We need not draw every detail of the human being; just the outline would suffice. We used these ‘hollow” figures in 1:50 or 1:20 architectural elevation and section drawings so that we would have an idea of how our buildings would look and feel in relation to the human scale - a very important consideration.

Never did l imagine that many years after becoming an architect, I would get a chance to experience these outline figures in the context of a real building, and with the figures being all “scaled up” to human size. They come as a family in Belgian artist Daisy Boman’s sculpture titled “The Elevation of Togetherness”, a visual focal point amid the lush landscape of the 50-metre lap pool area of CapitaLand’s prestigious residential project Sky Habitat. Now, isn’t that cool?

Cool, Refreshing and New Sphere

This set of frame sculptures belongs to the ‘bo-men’ series of works of the artist. But while all the previous ‘bo-men’ are made with ceramics, these five are in stainless steel powder-coated in bright red. This marks a departure for the artist. Why? “So that I can cover new grounds,” said Boman.

Indeed, the artistic career of Daisy Boman has seen several changes in direction. Born in 1948, Boman grew up near Antwerp in Belgium, where she studied interior design and photography in the Academy of Fine Arts. She then proceeded to experiment with ceramics. In 1981, her architect husband was offered a job in South Africa and the couple relocated to Johannesburg. There she started creating artworks with an African ethnic influence and was selected for the National Ceramic Exhibition several times. In 1987, one year after they moved back to Belgium, she held her first exhibition in Antwerp, but it was not until after 1992, when she first created her ‘bo-men’ that she began to establish herself in the art world. Today, she has many pieces in private and public collection, and has held a number of exhibitions in Belgium and overseas.

Hot Look, Cool Appeal

Having a universal appeal, the ‘bo-men’ are faceless figures with cube-like heads. Daisy lets them interact in many different ways to tell different tales. The first generation ‘bo-men’, made of ceramic, have a strong sense of mass. The frame ‘bo-men’, on the other hand, are light, elegant, transparent and almost abstract. We can still tell they are ‘bo-men’ because they all have square shape heads – ‘blockheads’ if you like - because the artists think that “our societies and systems have made us so”.

The frame figures look as if they were bent from a flat piece of steel 60mm wide and 12mm thick, but they are not. While the straight parts are steel strips, the other parts that seem to have been bent are in fact all cut by a diamond cutter from a piece of 60mm thick steel to get the strip effect. One figure therefore consists of some 20 parts welded together, polished and powder-coated to achieve a seamless effect. For the whole fabrication process, Daisy had her architect husband, who is now semi-retired, to help supervise. Could he too have learnt to draw outline figures when he was a student?

While each figure looks flat, the way Daisy has grouped, orientated, linked and assembled them makes them appear three-dimensional as a set. Particularly exciting are the places where the figures overlap. As you move around the work you see changing patterns. What is seemingly simple suddenly appears complex.

What tale does “The Elevation of Togetherness” tell? To Daisy, who has been a grandmother of two for a few years now, it depicts the strong bond among family members, and their unconditional love.

To me, there is another layer of meaning: the magic of hollowness. When we empty ourselves - of pre-conceived ideas, of prejudice and of our ego - we get to experience many more wonderful things in life.

This article is contributed by CapitaLand Chief of Art Management, Francis Wong Hooe Wai