on Seasons

Friends including fellow artists have asked me why my works deal so much with the seasons.Strangers have asked whether I am a local Singaporean as they could not connect the seasonal theme with my birthplace, which is hot and humid all year round.

I find it odd especially whenever an artist poses the question, because of all people I thought they would identify with the universal metaphor that seasons bring, and therefore understand why it can a subject for artistic response by any art practitioner, regardless of where they live and work. It is akin to asking why artists here draw inspiration from nature when “nature” in my country is all man-made. Or why do some import and employ materials that are available only in temperate climate or overseas, instead of working with what is available in their land. Our sensitivity towards seasons or nature is innate but latent in all of us; it has almost nothing to do with the physical geography.

We know the existence of death.We ponder, wonder and talk about it; we question it; we philosophize about it and we also fear it, but none of us on earth have experienced death. Yet, it is plentifully explored in the arts like many of our earthly experiences and emotions, such as love, pain, passion, angst, sex, suffering and war.

So why my art is often inspired by the seasons is a redundant question, hence.

Having experienced the seasons during my 5-year stay in the United States as well as from my travels has given me a good understanding of its physical attributes and characteristics; but metaphorically, I find many parallels between life and the seasons. In the seasons, I see life, witness death and discern a renewal of life. This cyclical pattern is obvious and easily taken for granted but it is a reminder of life’s transience and vulnerability, which often humbles me.

The not so obvious presentation of the seasons in my work is my way of dealing with and questioning about irony between what is expected and what actually occurs, and the sense of alienation and displacement resulting from this irony.

Having participated actively in my parents’ aging and later stayed by their sides till they passed on has made me even more acutely aware of the relentless flux of time with each passing season. But what is time?

Time always has an intuitive quality that makes me feel that I understand it perfectly if not asked, but I confess that it becomes too abstract and intangible to be explained. However, the seasonal change of colors, temperature and forms helps to demystify time a little, allowing me to feel comfortable enough to perceive time as something real and “concrete”.

To me, the seasons are mental markers of time. Although I do not always recall right down to the specific day or month when a certain event happened or when I met someone, I can always remember the season. Back home in Singapore and living in a flat, constant, hot and humid climate throughout the year, I do not retain things that easily and the notion of time becomes a bit more abstract. Despite this monotony, I continue to contemplate about the seasons, albeit remotely.

Like a sage, the seasons still have much to teach me. By the same token, as an art practitioner, I still find epiphany and serendipity abound in my contemplation of the seasons which remain a rich source of inspiration on tap.

Meiling, 2008-09-13

My Blogs

    • No categories