A solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Lee Kuang-yu (李光裕) at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay has generated considerable attention since its opening last year, including from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders early last year, domestic tourism in Singapore has soared at destinations such as the popular Gardens by the Bay, a nature park in the city-state’s Central Region.
Since the venue’s reopening in August last year, “A Sculptor’s Secret Garden,” a solo exhibition of Lee Kuang-yu’s work curated by Tan Hwee Koon (陳慧君), has been been especially popular.
Photo: CNA
Originally scheduled to close today, the show has been extended to Aug. 31 to meet demand.
“A Sculptor’s Secret Garden” features 16 sculptures inspired by Lee Kuang-yu’s own secret garden in the mountains of New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止).
The sculptures are placed about the cooled Cloud Forest conservatory designed around a 30m-tall waterfall at the entrance.
Photo courtesy of Lee Kuang-yu via CNA
Displayed prominently in front of the waterfall is the bronze Thinker, an homage to Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker whose many gaps and flowing structure frame the falling water behind it.
Lines of people waiting to take photographs regularly form in front of the lyrical sculpture, serving as a testament to its popularity.
It even caught the eye of Lee Hsien Loong, who on June 19 posted a photograph of Thinker on Facebook alongside other photos he took on a visit to the gardens.
“This work is named ‘Thinker’ in homage to Rodin’s famous work. But instead of a ponderous mass, the artist used calligraphic lines to create a man (or woman?) immersed in contemplation,” he wrote.
Chad Davis, manager of Cloud Forest, said that “A Sculptor’s Secret Garden” marks the conservatory’s first full-scale curated exhibition.
“We’re happy to say that visitorship in the Cloud Forest for local visitors has never been higher,” as the government during the pandemic has encouraged residents to “rediscover the attractions here in Singapore,” Davis said.
As for whether the gardens would exhibit any other work by Taiwanese artists, Davis said they are always looking for new ways to appeal to visitors, whether through art exhibitions or performances.
Chini Gallery, which sponsored the show, said that the exhibition has released Lee Kuang-yu’s art from the confines of a gallery, allowing the pieces to work in tandem with their lush surroundings as they do at his Sijhih studio.
“In a world paralyzed by numbness, what can inspire one to move again? It is the power of art and the power of the secret garden,” the gallery quoted Lee Kuang-yu as saying in 2019. “Once the artwork is positioned on site, it creates an energy that makes the world move again.”
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