Yavuz Gallery is pleased to present SWEET DREAMS, the first solo exhibition of Singaporean-artist Ian Tee.
A nod to the song by Eurythmics of the same name, SWEET DREAMS presents two bodies of work that explores and plays with the tensions and contradictions between dualities such as vulnerability/protection, desire/fear, nostalgia/trauma, and destruction/reconstruction. It consists of nine ‘Target Paintings’ on metal and two fabric works from Tee’s ongoing ‘FIRE BLANKET’ series. They feature collages of non-traditional materials and objects on complex, formal compositions that rethink and draw inspiration from conceptual, materialist, and gestural precedents.
Exchanging canvas for aluminium composite panels, Tee applies acrylic paints, collage and found objects on his paintings that blur the lines between abstraction and representation, medium and genre. The paintings on show feature target silhouettes floating and receding into an atmospheric field of colours, a motif which transforms one’s gaze into the aim of a firer on standby. Yet such violence is much closer than the impersonality of a gunshot, as suggested by slashing cuts that wound the surface. These paintings act as screens on which the artist explores the themes of alienation and difference, as well as the sensations of fear and anxiety they provoke. Recalling the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, the cacophony of collaged objects and appropriated images present a multitude of meanings and interpretations; each carrying their specific baggage of histories – both common yet intrinsically personal.
Presented alongside these destroyed metal paintings, ‘FIRE BLANKETS’ are a series of fabric works that weave in discarded textiles and various protective materials like safety straps, reflective strips and fibre-glass fire blankets. The use of these materials alludes to the intimate relationship between fabric and the body, as well as feelings of comfort, protection, care and love. Utilising found shapes derived from taking apart garments by their seams, Tee juxtaposes the tender practice of quilting with the compositions of hard-edged geometric abstraction. Tension is sustained between the familiarity of patchwork quilts and undertones of emergency that line its construction.
Taken together, Tee’s ‘Target Paintings’ and ‘FIRE BLANKETS’ open a space for new associations and relationality beyond the edges of painting. It expands upon the medium, providing a space of questioning surfaces by conflating personal sentiments with historical narratives.