Time Out Singapore: Ren Zhe

This month, HaKaren Art Gallery brings the works of Chinese master sculptor Ren Zhe over to Singapore for the second time. In this exhibition, visitors get to see a wonderful collection of 13 bronze and stainless steel sculptures. Gwen Pew finds out more.

A steel sculpture by Ren Zhe. Image courtesy of the artist.

A steel sculpture by Ren Zhe. Image courtesy of the artist.

25 Sep 2013:

What was your inspiration for your latest exhibit, Above Clouds?
The theme for this year’s exhibition is “Above Clouds”. Clouds represent something pure, tranquil and serene, while being an extremely variable element at the same time as it could take on any form at any moment. My perception of clouds symbolizes a realm of life and I’ve translated this inspiration into my sculptures.

You use ancient Chinese warriors in a lot of your work, what is the significance of them for you?
Warriors have a strong yet beautiful physique and spirit. I love the indomitable and determined spirit that warriors portray. The message I would like to convey to people through my work is that everyone can be their own warrior in life.

You’ve said before that the use of metal as your chosen medium enables you to better express yourself in your work. How do you feel metal casting contributes to the story you’re telling in this exhibit?
To an artist, finding a suitable material to work with greatly increases the ability to express themselves in their art pieces. I have selected metal as my preferred medium as I feel that the fluidity of metal allows for each piece of my work to keep the traces of my creativity and using metal as a medium maximizes the shape of each of my creations.

In this collection, I have enhanced the aesthetic of the sculptures with more defined muscle tone and skin texture, intending to give the audience a different feel with each piece of my work. I try to capture moments in my sculptures and each of my sculptures is a recorded event in my life.

The sculptures in this exhibit are quite large in size – how did you decide on these aesthetics?
Creating large sculptures is a great challenge as there are many physical and technical challenges for an artist when it comes to working with large works of art. I personally sculpt all my pieces and the time and effort devoted to each large piece; and the physical demands needed to complete them surpasses what is required to sculpt small pieces. I constantly challenge myself to create big sculptures focusing on every delicate detail and expression. I feel that when working on a big sculpture, a more holistic view has to be taken so as not to lose the vividness of the sculptures.

How will this exhibition differ from your previous one at HaKaren Art Gallery, which was your first in Singapore?
My last show in Singapore was in 2011 and since then, I have created many new pieces of work. For this exhibition, I have selected the most symbolic sculptures that I’ve created between 2011 and 2013. My sculptures have become more prominent in their expressions and emotions. The pieces in this exhibition focus on the delicate gentleness of each character in terms of facial expression and detailing in the sculpting process. This strong contrast to the medium of heavy metal revitalizes each character, giving them a fresh new look.

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