World renowned artist and holder of the Asian Artist Fellowship Award, USA (2010 – 2011); Juror’s Choice for the Philip Morris Singapore-ASEAN Art Award (2003) and the Platinum Award, UOB Competition (2009), Boo Sze Yang, contests the idea of style. “Rather than a holy grail, the pursuit of a defining style can hinder artistic development.” Boo Sze Yang ruminates that when it comes to art, a ‘style’ can become a burden for an artist, constraining and prohibiting ones art to evolve. Instead, style should come naturally as something that is developed and changed as the artist and their thinking changes over time. Accordingly Sze Yang believes art should be spontaneous and expressive, rather than over-thought. He feels a constant compulsion to experiment in order to merge technique and thought in harmony.
This said, it is hard not to identify a distinctive style within Sze Yang’s work; with dripping paint, loose brush strokes, and a subdued palette. Sze Yang uses oil paint, however not in the conventional application of the medium. His manner is looser and fluid, the paintwork is thinner with turpentine washes, reminiscent of a technique based on watercolour painting, leaving the white of the canvas untouched. His fluid and eclectic brushwork and watercolour-like treatment of oil paint, create an ambiance of light and space, which is compelling and invites contemplation. His technique does convey a spontaneity of painting, which is ultimately gestural; a result of the movement of hand and body, coinciding with his belief.
His subject matter often focusses on mundane spaces; disparaging crash-scenes, derelict interiors, and deserted shopping mall chambers. Depicting unstable spaces on the verge of collapse and in ruins, he explores space as concept and space as symbol. He treats such scenes and spaces as metaphors for the human condition, transforming these into a symbol of contemporary life through his fluid technique and use of a restrained and watered-down palette, emphasizing the materiality of paint. His artworks express observations of absurdity, and enter into a critical and intellectual discussion on the future vision and direction of the human condition.
The Wasteland 1, 2, and 3 allude to derelict space, with grid-like, architectural elements peering through, and a sense of depth created in the reserved brown palette, by lashes of heavier oil paint contrasting against the water-colour like strokes, very much creating an ambiance of light and space characteristic to his work. In coherence with the title, Sze Yang has succeeded in making the mundane into something beautiful through a fluid, gestural style.
Boo Sze Yang’s Wasteland 1,2, and 3 are on sale at CultureLabel with 50 editions available. All of proceeds going to The Hepatitis C Trust.
About the writer
Tara is an Art Foundation and History of Art graduate born and bred in London. She has travelled the globe extensively, immersing herself in the vibrant arts and cultures the world has to offer, and hopes her next adventure will take her to India! She is currently teaching English as a foreign language whilst enjoying volunteering at Art on a Postcard, and she hopes to break into the art world!