Imagining a Geographical Presence:
A Study of the Horizon in Contemporary Painting
A Solo Exhibition by Ng Joon Kiat
The question was asked: where is the horizon that divides ground and sky? The answer is, I have seen it mostly on T.V. programs. This project begins with seeing horizon in landscape and urbanscape paintings, and in images from the media. Producers of business like tour agents exploit the romance of viewing the horizon to stir an interest in many to travel, to enjoy; to spend. But perhaps to occlude what exists beyond. Yet another response to the question is simply wondering where the experience of the horizon is in our daily living.
With specificity to my painting practice, the question I posed to myself is simply: where is my experience of the horizon? The study of this personal experience sets in motion questioning for ‘a geographical presence’. The defining of a geographical presence begins with the viewer looking beyond a window frame from within a flat/apartment to find yet more geometry. This scene before the viewer could, at times, appear to him/her as multiple oblique projections, but he/she is mostly occluded from seeing further. Occluded viewing evokes a search for the horizon, and, perhaps, also puts forth (an obligation to define) the silhouettes of rectangular and structural entities as the horizon itself. I would rather opt for the former. Therefore, if a geographical presence is to be defined by a state of searching for an understanding of a horizon, the idea of locating the horizon will be a primer form for the painting process.
A painting process
The idea of locating begins with a frame, without which the state of locating cannot be situated. Whilst the frame commonly suggests the “oblique projection-like” scenes in our urban surroundings, the frame sited here is also a tool by which painting functions in. In the context of this project, the frame also functions as a:
1. space for working out the idea of demarcation, the way a negotiation of space is represented
2. representation of a make-believe system with particular reference to map-making
Having said so, an irony is created as pigment flows out of the frame. The act of pushing pigment out of the frame’s boundary is an act of extension, but the viewing of the pushed pigment located outside of the frame is a signal to re-enforce the boundary. In these paintings therefore, a literal description of the painting process does not bring out their meaning. Rather, these paintings are about working out the conceptual idea of locating.
The thickness of pigment is not just a material end in itself, but rather, is associated with the idea of locating; straightforwardly, by working with gravity pull in moulding the heavy pigment and in the station-ing (sample 1) and oscillating (sample 2) of paintings. The land idea of gravity is considered, firstly, in terms of the display of the completed painting, and secondly, in the making process of a painting on a ground, in particular to a horizontal viewing experience. An experience of locating therefore emerges from the making and display experience of these paintings.
This experience of locating is not an end in itself. It opens up a visual negotiation of space via paint manipulation, to mark and demarcate. Both depicting ideas are introduced to suggest extension and contraction aspects of space negotiations, also reflected in map-making which underlying motivation is to image a collective unseen. Such an attempt at painting is therefore a matter of opening a space within which a sense of narrativity could idle and in particular, the sense of narrating an alternate horizon.
The question is asked, where is the horizon that divides ground and sky? The answer is simply: I have seen it only on T.V. programs but it is definitely there when you drop something to the ground.
Ng Joon Kiat