An Eye For Art
From the artist’s lens: we speak to three artists, who’ve been commissioned by CapitaLand to create iconic works, about their approach to art that’s designed for a commercial space.
We might think that art can only be truly appreciated in a museum or a gallery, so it might come as a surprise to many when they encounter art in the various CapitaLand buildings that form a part of the cityscape. In an earlier conversation with Richard Lim, the manager of CapitaLand’s art portfolio, we heard from the perspective of an art acquirer, and this piqued our interest—how do artists create for commercial spaces?
To answer this question, we reached out to three different artists in Asia on their inspirations and thought processes.
Han Sai Por, a celebrated sculptor who was conferred the prestigious Cultural Medallion award in 1995, has created works for CapitaLand both locally and globally, with her first artwork being the iconic Shimmering Pearls sculpture at Capital Tower.
Edwin Cheong, who was commissioned to create a commemorative sculpture for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, has a special interest in kinetics art installation. He has created several pieces for CapitaLand, with the latest being ‘Brushes’ and ‘Rolly’ at 79 Robinson Road.
Takashi Kudo, Communications Director from art collective teamLab, shares his insights and perspectives; teamLab will also be creating art installations in CapitaLand's upcoming properties.
#1: What Does Art Mean To You?
“Art is something that appeals to emotions, and cannot be explained by logic.”
- Takashi Kudo
Every artist has their personal definition of art, which acts as a guiding principle for them to approach new work. “Art is a vehicle for how a living being expresses their thoughts, which can be in motion, text, words, tune, or shapes that people try to decode,” says Edwin, who shares Takashi's opinion that art should not be categorised.
According to Takashi, art is “an experience that can be understood differently by anyone,” one he believes there’s no correct answer to, as everyone has a different interpretation of the question. “The right answer in the previous century cannot be the right answer now.”
“Emergence of new media has an inevitable impact on traditional art forms.”
- Han Sai Por
This leads us to a discussion of the merit of traditional art—do the artists think classic forms of art still hold importance in this day and age? Sai Por believes it is difficult to be replaced—“traditional art is timeless: it can be seen, touched, felt, and holds historical positioning and value.” Even for a modern collective such as teamLab, classical art forms hold their weight. “Traditional art represents the invention of specific time periods; it’s important to respect people’s views on art.” Perhaps the answer to this question can be best summarised by Edwin, who believes “it’s always good to have variety.”
Title: The Infinite Crystal Universe
Credit: teamLab, Exhibition view of teamLab SuperNature Macao, 2020, Macao © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery
#2: Where Does Your Inspiration Lie?
How does the seed of inspiration take root? Before it grows into what we know and love as the final installation, artists at times base their artwork on a source of inspiration. Nature appears to be a common thread amongst the three we spoke to:
For Sai Por, the inspiration comes from her observation and interactions with nature, much like Edwin’s, whose works mimic the constant motion we see around us. Those familiar with teamLab’s creations would know that many of their installations merge the natural world with the digital one. “We find inspiration from different places,” Takashi says. “Sometimes it’s from a new form of technology or material we want to work with, or sometimes I’m inspired from the walks I take with my son.”
For artists who've established a body of work, inspiration can come from a rather unexpected source—themselves! “There are many internal ideas generated from your own previous collections,” Edwin tells us.
#3: How Does Your Inspiration Take Shape?
“I always hope my work can be set in a natural environment, so that it can transform the space into a new landscape.”
- Han Sai Por
Much like how they seek inspiration, the medium of choice is very personal to artists. For Sai Por and Edwin, who both work with physical materials, the type of medium they decide upon often determines their work process.
Edwin’s favourite material of choice? Carbon fibre, and he tells us why: “It’s ultra-lightweight and durable, so it can create lots of magic. I’ve even built my now-6-metre-long oven in my studio to prepare carbon fibre.”
Meanwhile, Sai Por has experimented with various materials during her career, from marble, to granite, bronze, and stainless steel. “These materials are all suitable for outdoor weather,” she shares. “It can be difficult to get sculpture materials and assistance in Singapore, so many of my large-scale public sculptures require help from other countries during the production process.”
Unlike the solo artists, teamLab’s process is a little different. “Our team is made up of engineers, technicians, mathematicians, programmers, animators—we call them specialists.” It’s a group Takashi calls eclectic, and every piece is created with input from everyone. In fact, Takashi compared it to constructing a joke: “We start by creating a draft. If one person doesn’t find the joke funny, that means there’s something missing. So we’ll come together and try to suggest what could be added.”
“Motion is the most visible gauge that we exist, and that time has not stood still.”
- Edwin Cheong
When designing for a commercial location, the space is an important factor. Coming from an architectural background, Edwin’s work often plays with different aspects of the location. “I’m very sensitive to the proportion and scale of the artwork.”
How different is it for teamLab, whose installations often require maintenance? “We have to look out for technical constraints,” Takashi says. “The museum is a more professional space, since their purpose is to showcase the art. The office has a different priority and purpose, so we have to design accordingly.” Often times, it can come down to technical matters, such as the availability of an electrical circuit.
“Public art leaves room for public engagement and for people to come to their own interpretation.”
-Han Sai Por
Title: Universe of Water Particles, Transcending BoundariesFlowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together - Transcending Boundaries, A Whole Year per Hour
Credit: teamLab, Exhibition view of FUTURE WORLD: WHERE ART MEETS SCIENCE, 2016, ArtScience Museum, Singapore © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery
#4: What Lies Ahead?
A dilemma artists often face is balancing their vision with public opinion, especially with the advent of digital technology. Even the world of art is not immune to trends, which is often dictated by social media. ‘Instagrammable Art’ is a phrase that's used not only by the public, but also by artists themselves. How do our artists strike this balance? “Trends come and go, and if our artwork is considered trendy in the moment, we appreciate it, but we don’t take it too seriously,” says Takashi, who has witnessed several teamLab installations go viral.
Yet for Edwin and Sai Por, who some might consider to belong in more traditional categories of art, social media often determines the visibility of their work. “Art that is not made visible through social media might not end up being noticed,” Edwin says.
We ended off by asking them about a unique location that they’d like to install their artwork in. True to his artistic vision, Edwin hopes to create a piece that belongs on top of water surfaces, as “weightless upon weightless would be great.”
For Takashi, who defines teamLab’s work as expanding the horizon of art, his ultimate dream would be to live in a city of art. Though that might be still be some time away, Takashi’s latest goal might be more achievable: “We hope to create an entire building of art for CapitaLand.”
“Art is an experience, not an explanation.”
- Takashi Kudo
Discover the story behind the works of arts at CapitaLand—visit art.capitaland.com for our art installation showcase.
Subscribe to our e-newsletter your Workplace Community to receive content around
- Hacks and ideas to enrich your work-life experience and well-being
- Community stories and features
- Upcoming events and promotions for the CapitaLand Workspace community and more!
You might also like...