• Shows
  • May 06, 2022

STPI Presents Han Sai Por’s “The Forest and Its Soul”

* This post is presented by STPI — Creative Workshop and Gallery.

Portrait of HAN SAI POR by Toni Cuhadi. All images courtesy the artist and STPI, Singapore.

“I like to experiment so as to discover the material that I’m working with through my hands-on approach. This is a language for me, allowing me to interpret the vision that I have. At STPI, it was about this kind of experimenting and discovering.” —Han Sai Por

“The Forest and Its Soul” marks the second residency and solo exhibition of Singaporean artist Han Sai Por with STPI. Following her first residency in 2013, the sculptor returned to the Creative Workshop to create 35 new print and paper works in a span of three weeks. Using technologies that are new to the artist, such as photo intaglio and laser-cutting, the works exemplify Han’s enduring artistic exploration unbounded by a singular medium, even at this stage of her multi-decade-long career.

This body of work draws from the artist’s experience of walking through dense forests, which Han describes as “an emotional landscape.” Additionally, it evokes the boundless energy of the multilayered forest ecosystem, composed of many elements: blowing wind, dancing leaves, rolling waters, mud teeming with microlife, detritus on the floor, and more.

HAN SAI POR, Sea Vision, 2022, acrylic paint on STPI-cast paper, 127.5 × 166 × 3.5 cm. Copyright the artist / STPI

The impression of layers and depth in the works presented (all 2022) is achieved through a myriad of techniques. For the sweeping abstraction Sea Vision, after the shape of the canvas had been formed through paper casting, Han continued to hand-sculpt areas of the work to accentuate its depth despite its seeming two-dimensionality.

Working heavily with STPI’s laser-cut machine for In the Silence and her Night and Day series, the artist carved many ghostly, skeletal trees out of textured paper handmade in STPI, and subsequently layered one atop the other. In creating the Burning Forest series, Han transformed her sketches into a fiery forest through the laser-etch technique.

HAN SAI POR, In the Silence, 2022, laser-cut paper handmade at STPI, acrylic paint, STPI-cast paper, 35.5 × 46 × 3 cm. Copyright the artist / STPI.

HAN SAI POR, Wild Land, 2022, lithography on paper, 74 × 106 cm. Copyright the artist / STPI

Presented with the possibilities of photo intaglio, the artist was able to capture her meticulously detailed sketches—where the highlights and shadows are skilfully expressed through the artist’s hand—in the medium of print. “The Forest and Its Soul” articulates the artist’s long-lasting relationship with nature and its many components, and circles back to her view of it as a highly textural, multilayered landscape.

Ultimately, Han hopes for visitors to reacquaint themselves with the full breadth of nature, and to encourage care and reverence for the living world all around us.

About Han Sai Por

HAN SAI POR, White Fruit, 2022, acrylic paint on sculpted paper pulp, 14 × 19 × 55 cm. Copyright the artist / STPI

A formidable artistic figure with more than 50 years of practice, Han Sai Por (b. 1943, Singapore) is one of Asia’s leading modern sculptors and a recipient of Singapore’s Cultural Medallion Award in 1995. Her experiences have shaped her aesthetic language of understated, geometric, and organic forms; marble sculptures appear pliant, making for instantly recognizable works that speak of her years of experience.

Her education in fine arts and landscape architecture strengthened her keen understanding of nature and the environment that influenced her work. Most of her works are inspired by the flora and fauna in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. They often comment on the changing landscapes in the region and the deforestation that adversely impacts the environment and ecosystems.

Han has won international acclaim and participated in numerous international exhibitions and projects around the world. Her works can be found in the collections of the National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, National Museum in Beijing, and the Australian Parliament.

About STPI

STPI is a creative workshop and contemporary art gallery based in Singapore. Established in 2002, STPI is committed to promoting artistic experimentation in the mediums of print and paper, making it one of the most cutting-edge destinations for contemporary art in Asia. STPI sits alongside National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum as part of the national Visual Arts Cluster of leading institutions in the region.

Han Sai Por’s “The Forest and Its Soul” is on view at the STPI Gallery, Singapore, until May 22, 2022.