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Ng Eng Teng: Mother and Child September 19, 2010

Filed under: Writings — chicapod @ 1:30 am

I did this for one of my assignments for SOVA.

Ng Eng Teng the artist.

Front view of the public sculpture.

Back view.

Full view.

Option B: Individual Report on Public Art in Singapore

 Artwork: Mother and Child

Artist: Ng Eng Teng

Location: Far East Plaza

Brief Biography of Artist:

Ng Eng Teng is an independent and prolific artist, creating more than 300 sculptures over a span of forty years, from monumental public works (most notably Mother and Child, Wealth and Contentment) to life-sized or smaller sculptures in bronze, (such as Tension and Pride of a Mother) ceramics and ciment fondu. He also specialized in other categories of work, particularly the functional wares, maquettes and drawings. Since the start of his career, Ng Eng Teng produced huge quantities of artworks, amounting to more than 1700 pieces in total.

Being a leading sculptor in the region, Ng Eng Teng demonstrates his extraordinary ability to endow imagination and inventiveness to art. As quoted from a close artist friend, “Eng Teng continues to surprise with his impressive ability to create new forms and volumes, never looking back but delving into unknown areas where he previously had not ventured, even when dealing with familiar subjects. Humorous, ironic, ambiguous, rich in erotic connotations and full of poetic presence, these extraordinary works substantiate his position of prominence in contemporary sculpture.”

The human figure remains Ng Eng Teng’s principal source of inspiration. From his earliest, tentative explorations to his mature, masterful creations, figuration is a recurring subject matter. He constantly explores familiar themes, particularly the female figure, which his fertile imagination transforms into the most unexpected and surprising images, as seen from his artworks.

Feldman Report on Mother and Child

This huge (about 2 to 3 times the size of an average human being) bronze sculpture depicts an abstract female figure reclining on a pillar, cradling a similarly abstract figure of an infant tightly to her chest. It is a modelled, not natural subject matter. The female figure has a triangular halo behind her, probably representing her flying hair, or even a headdress. Her face is defined by hollow eye sockets, a protruding nose, high cheekbones and thick lips, forming a somewhat contemplative expression. The same goes for the infant’s facial features; both mother and child are looking far away in the same direction. The mother’s hands are dislocated from her torso, connected only to her child’s body rather than her own. She balances on bottom at the pillar, with her legs bound together by rectangular strips (probably representing her long dress), arched upwards in an unnatural manner. The whole sculpture looks smooth and rounded. Since it is made of bronze, the figures are brownish-black due to prolonged deoxygenation.

The composition of the artwork is somewhat triangular, with the bare feet of the mother, her headdress and her bottom forming three distinct points of the triangle. Mother and Child is three-dimensional, and its rounded figures give the viewers a sense of visual depth and volume. Use of geometric shapes (triangular halo behind her head) and lines (rectangular strips on mother’s legs) enhance the abstractness of the sculpture, and also gives it a trace of simplicity. However, it is visually appealing as there is a balance of the forms; the more complex facial features of the mother and child contrasted with the rhythmic patterns of her dress, represented by the rectangular strips on her legs.

Mother and Child is site-specific. Situated in front of the busy shopping centre, Far East Plaza, on Orchard Road, people can be seen sitting on the edge of the fountain pool containing the sculpture, and walking past it. This sculpture serves as a resting area for shoppers, and it also beautifies the surrounding area, at the same time neither obstructing the entrance nor frustrating the public, since it only occupies minimal space in front of the shopping centre. Many tourists take photographs there, so this is also a landmark of Far East Plaza. To get a complete image of the sculpture, one has to walk around it and across it, as it needs to be deciphered from different angles of the sculpture.

The artist is bringing the theme of motherly love to the public. Judging from the fact that the hands of the mother are not connected to her body, but rather, connects and covers her child protectively, is be enough to symbolise the kind of sacrificial affection that a mother has for her child, even willing to be disembodied just to make sure her child is safe. The strong expressive forms of the sculpture also invoke the reflective mode of the viewers. It is marvellous how the artist has created a world of pure motherly love through the manipulation of bronze using simple yet effective geometric shapes. Brownish-black is the sole colour used for this sculpture; probably to epitomise the sombre and everlasting motherly love for the child. This is an appropriate colour choice, since it is serious, and has a strong and vivid impact on the audience

Personally, I think that the artist is successful in conveying his ideas through his artwork. Through this sculpture’s fusion of East and West influences, the artist applies East Asian arts to his works, using Chinese Shiwan techniques (as seen from the details of the figure’s face) to create this western-style sculpture. This process-based technique has resulted in sculpture which is immediate and vivid. As explained above, the sculpture is site-specific, and at the same time, full of life. When a person walks past it, he or she will have to take a while to ponder over the significance of this artwork, since it is visually appealing (full of voluptuous form) and also very outstanding in the whole area. With its prominent contours, Mother and Child is gives an expressive and emotional image of motherly love for her child. Hence, the artist is successful in conveying his ideas through his artwork.


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