What Dreams Are Made Of – Solo Exhibition by Sunny Chyun
Winner, 2017 UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore), Established Artist Category
Exhibition date: Thursday, 20 September 2018 – Sunday, 4 November 2018
Exhibition venue: UOB Art Gallery, 80 Raffles Place, UOB Plaza 1, Ground Floor
About the Exhibition:
Precious gems, eggs, and spider webs – these are some of the recurring images that often appear in Sunny Chyun’s dreams, expressed through her artworks in her first solo exhibition with UOB, What Dreams Are Made Of.
The winner of the 2017 UOB Painting of the Year (Singapore) in the Established Artist Category, Sunny examines and celebrates items such as organic cells, spider webs and fireworks through her art by creating intricate patterns that encourage various perspectives – the results are an expression of her emotional experience and the elaborate mapping of her creative process.
Each of the objects featured in Sunny’s works references mental states and life events: the organic cells are presented as symbols of birth and genetic transformation; the fireworks are manifestations of gratitude and victory, and the spider webs are the complex representation of domestic labour.
Sunny uses materials such as gilded thread and sequins in her works not just for their visual appeal, but also to create conversations when they are layered and blended with other types of media such as paint and canvas. Images blend and repeat with variations in colour, shape and material, reflecting the multiple perceptions and interpretations that occupy the artist’s mind. The use of luminescent colours and glow-in-the-dark threads draw the viewer closer to the artworks to reveal the layers of deep, saturated colours.
What Dreams Are Made Of is the outcome of many endless nights and countless experimentation of ideas. Sunny, whose works are often double-sided and seemingly abstract yet figurative in style, invites the viewer to think differently on the things that seem familiar.
UOB Art Gallery
What Dreams Are Made Of – September 2018 Exhibition
Artworks for sale and on exhibition:
Acrylic, marker pen, glow-in-the-dark thread and embroidery on silkscreened linen
130 x 110 cm
Golden Age is both a celebration and a reminder of a period at its peak. The gilded colours and multi-colour explosions on the canvas invite us to remember the exhilaration of festivals, holidays and victories of the past.
Contrasting with these bright colours is a muted sheen over the artwork, and while it initially appears to dull the colours’ vibrancy, it does not completely succeed as we see the use of glow-in-the-dark threads pulling through to the surface. The artwork’s refusal to be quietened down reminds us that time is needed to pause and keep sight of what might not be as readily apparent to us after the initial excitement of euphoria has subsided.
Underneath the Leaves
Acrylic, oil, archival ink and marker pen on perforated canvas
103 x 103 cm
Underneath The Leaves was inspired by the same-titled song in John Vanderslice’s 2002 album, “Life and Death of an American Fourtracker”. The song speaks of exhilaration and release, expressed through an image of the singer falling to the ground like the autumn leaves, praising the sun and grateful to have found what he was looking for there and more.
The artist tries to capture such a sensation in this work, evoking the season of Fall with the colours of turned foliage. Etchings of spider webs can be seen faintly, a recurrent motif in the artist’s work. However, the webs are almost colourless here against a saturated orange background, hinting at the opportunity of discovering something different and new amongst the fallen decay, signifying the return of a new beginning.
The Day We Felt The Distance
Acrylic, marker pen, digital print and embroidery on linen
170 x 160 cm
The Day We Felt the Distance was inspired by South Korean singer and actor Kyuhyun’s 2002 single of the same name.
The song, a ballad featuring vocals, piano and strings with Bach’s “Air on a G String” as an introduction, is a lament over lost love. While this work features the artist’s signature spider web motif, the web depicted here is not in chromatic harmony with the rest of the artwork and is barely discernible. The intention here is to express the pain and confusion experienced when one loses an emotional connection.
Acrylic, digital print, fabric paint, marker pen and embroidery on linen
173 x 149cm
Exhilaration features exuberant bursts of fireworks filling up the surface of the artwork.
Fireworks mean many things to the artist, such as celebrations of social prosperity, political independence and neural pathways at work, while exhilaration is a feeling and an affective state that often accompanies all of the above scenarios.
However, this is only one facet of the above activities. What about its after-effects, when the excitement has died down? This question is countered by the second side of this linen canvas, into which the fireworks have bled to form a less pretty, more ambiguous rendering of these sensations.
Oil paint, corset boning, beading and embroidery on canvas
95 x 86 x 7 cm
Creativity Clusters encourages us to recognise the intangible benefits of artistic endeavours, seen through the physical form of the artwork.
The clusters of circular shapes here are formed not only by material and colour which are perceivable with our eyes, but also with what is not perceivable, such as the invisible air that gives them shape and contour. What we see as gaps, perforations and holes in the work are not negative spaces or negativities, but actual positive, enlightening presences that are formed by our recognition of them as such.
Zero Some Gain
Acrylic, digital print, marker pen and machine embroidery on linen
130 x 120cm
Zero Some Gain is the artist’s attempt to play a pun on the economic concept of zero-sum game when she produced the artwork while following the market’s volatility. The image depicted here connotes a graph, tracking the rise and fall of the stock market, with the green and red markings at the bottom rising and falling in frenzy as fireworks burst in the background.
While the concept of zero-sum game represents a situation in which a person’s gain or loss is exactly balanced out by the losses or gains of another, Zero Some Gain indicates the artist’s view that what we might first think of as null, void or zero, in fact does moves us forward, perhaps in a different form. The result is then some gain on a zero-sum situation
Lighting Up the World (With Your Shine)
Acrylic, crystals, sequins, beading and embroidery on silkscreened linen scarf
158 x 57cm
Lighting the World With Your Shine, produced during the North Korean Summit, is the artist’s attempt to come to terms with promises and hopes that do not quite materialise.
Although the bold strike of lightning bolt running down the work does illuminate clearly the precious, almost constellation-like spider webs here, such enlightenment is fleeting in an otherwise enshrouded world. The beautiful colours and balance in the webs, however, are indications of their integrity, suggesting the possibility of future resolution and an anticipation of a more permanent shine and ray of hope to come through.
Where the Cloud Follows
Acrylic, glow in the dark paint, crystal embellishments and embroidery on silkscreened voile curtain
200 x 106 cm
Where the Cloud Follows portrays the ways in which dreams continue to take form the longer we remain in them. As the second part of Where the Cloud Floats, this work features heavier use of colour and a more clearly rectangular form to indicate the clarity that results from maintained focus. Yet, as the title of the work and the allusive quality of the images embroidered on the silk suggest, the artist views the evolution of dreams as a never-ending process.
Shot in the Dark
Acrylic, marker pen, digital print and embroidery on perforated canvas
187 x 150 cm
Shot in the Dark illustrates the pain and shock felt when we encounter sudden misfortunes.
The saturated sanguine pigment (mixed acrylic and ink) and holes that we see literally punctured through the canvas recall the violence and wounds we are sometimes forced to endure, often hitting us so deeply as to threaten the integrity of the protective communities from which we draw strength from, represented here by the spider webs.
Yet the eventual transformation of the blood-red pigment to lavender orchid along the margins of the perforated canvas hints at the artist’s belief that hope always lies at the other end of adversity.
Vladimir’s Blues (The Day We Felt The Distance Too)
Acrylic, fabric paint, marker pen, archival ink, digital print and embroidery on linen
190 x 145 cm
Vladimir’s Blues (The Day We Felt The Distance Too) was inspired by Max Richter’s 2004 album “The Blue Notebooks”.
This work, in comparison to the artist’s other work, The Day We Felt the Distance, tracks a different side of one’s emotional experience – one of alienation and compromise.
Although sadness pervades this work, it is grief of a different sort. The seemingly confused colours across the canvas representing feelings of sorrow have come together and resolved itself into various shades of blue. With that, clarity begins to return, suggesting that despite experiencing the raw emotions of isolation, in time, we are able to objectify our pain, represented here by the resolution of an array of colours into blue, a colour typically associated with melancholy.
Acrylic, digital print, fabric dye and embroidery on linen
81 x 103cm
Lucid Dreaming takes its title from the act of dreaming a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming.
Here, having lucid dreams is not only the artist’s nocturnal experiences in which clarity and truth are brought up to her mind like crystal clear gemstones, but they are also dreams that she has in order to understand herself and her world, expressed through her creativity.
The artist hopes that her art will act as light passing through precious stones of various hues, allowing people to see things from different angles and through different lenses, always in motion.
Acrylic, digital print, fabric dye, beading and embroidery on linen
77 x 98 cm
EggCellent is a reflection on the porosity of the subject featured. The work depicts a constellation of eggs of varying shapes, existing next to, above, and between one another, with shiny beads and stones scattered across.
The eggs represent not just the act of reproduction in which one being is begotten from another, but the emotional experiences that bond us and enmesh us such that the boundaries between self and other are unclear and shifting.
Think When It Gets Mystical
Acrylic, marker pen, glow-in-the-dark thread and embroidery on silkscreened canvas
105 x 130 cm
Think When it Gets Mystical gives us a window into the world of the complexities of a web in which a predator lures its prey. Here, the iridescence of the web’s silk explodes into jewel tones that reflect the multitude of thoughts that go through the artist’s mind as she brainstorms during her creative process.
This work is therefore not just a window into an imaginary world of webs and traps, but a way of getting caught in the artist’s vision that she has set for us. Be it mystical or mythical, this vision is an elaborate masquerade that asks the viewer to question if thought processes proceed in a straight, linear line or spin about in a multifaceted manner.
Lotus Be Free
Oil, corset boning, wires, beading and embroidery on canvas
90 x 86 x 5 cm
Lotus Be Free carries on the eastern mystical themes that the artist had previously explored in her earlier works, creating a whirl of forms that could seem botanical or astral in its representation.
Here, the composition is based on the motif of a lotus, which, like a mandala (a circular form representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism), has many symbolic meanings in its imagery. The artist relates the understanding of this work to be like a person on the journey to enlightenment. At each stage of the mystical journey, the traveller is asked to relinquish what he or she valued most in the previous stage, setting free what was once loved and treasured.
Where the Cloud Floats
Acrylic, fabric dye, crystal embellishments, glow-in-the dark paint and embroidery on silkscreened voile curtain
230 x 200 cm
Where the Cloud Floats creates a space for contemplation. Designed to hang from above, this work manifests the thoughts that hover over us while we dream. It transforms the notion of mental preoccupations as weighty burdens to one of luminous, welcoming presence.
The work blends the amorphousness clouds, embroidered in pastels, with the precision of crystal spider webs and their dutiful spinners, thus joining the earth with the sky to mirror the duality of our thoughts as ethereal concepts resulting from complex biological processes.
About The Artist
Sunny Chyun (b. 1979) is a multimedia artist who received her Master of Fine Art from the Korean National University of Arts. Sunny’s art practice is in the tradition of Abstract Expressionism as she explores the tactile quality of materials to evoke emotions and challenge conventional approaches to art-making. Sunny has exhibited in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States of America, and her works have been collected and commissioned by institutions, foundations and corporations.