Total attitude makes exhibition very enjoyable 

by Susie Wong

Chng Nai Wee has clear ideas on what constitutes the work of an artist: Medium should not be a barrier, limitation or constraint to his work, what is important is the spirit and his total attitude towards his work.

To cite an example, among the thirty-five works on display was the odd series of photographs shot by himself while he was in New York and Shanghai.

This series of pictures, which contrasted the ordinary lives of people, did not fit in with the other works but the artist felt it was necessary for them to be shown.

The other works fall into two main categories: The painterly pieces in mixed media and acrylics, and the collage series.

Aside from these are the odd found objects, a stringing of four air-conditioning condensors called New Age 0000 which is part of the works of the New Age series and a three-dimensional photowork, entitled Yearning.

On looking at the exhibition in its entirety, one remains indifferent to such categorisation of method and medium of working. The 'total attitude' is what comes across.

One is made aware of the artist's interest in biology and histology in the constant and persistent allusion to cellular and tissue images.

The allusion, made possible either through painterliness or the collaging of circuitry boards, is more than merely pointing out an aesthetic comparison.

Chng, who is a practising medical doctor, integrates the two sciences to show its relevance in our lives today.

He is exuberant about a new paint called pearlescent paint, that contains a metallic material, which he used for the painterly works. This metallic sheen, silvery or coppery, shows up in works such as Flight, Lava, Zen and The Source.

His 'let's-see-what-we-ca-do-with-it' attitude persists into the New Age series which places the raw, untransformed material, such as condensors and metal casings for computer circuits, as art.

As for method, Chng also employs spreading, spilling and dripping manipulation of substances such as industrial solvents for some of his painterly works.

The effect is accidental; through the viscosity of the medium with its repelling and absorbing properties, a series of images with interesting formations akin to cellular images is achieved.

The exhibition, Chng's second solo show in Singapore,is the result of efforts to explore an informal language in art through new mediums rather than taking off from known aesthetic positions.

It has been said that the glory of artists lie not only in developing his language but also in what is being said with it.

In this exhibition, there exists a profundity of 'total attitude' which makes it immensely enjoyable.

Chng gives us a new tack to one's insight by showing the 'internal' and the 'unseen' and thus enhance our everyday experiences.