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Luke Heng—Our ever-moving lives and their in-betweens

“Death is something many of us can relate to but find very difficult to talk about.” This was what 30-year-old Luke Heng told Actually during an interview about his latest solo exhibition, “After Asphodel”.


Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries.


Luke Heng is a Singaporean artist best known for his alluring visual examinations of painting as a subject and medium. The up-and-coming artist, soon to launch his third solo exhibition on 1st December, has recently shared with Actually some details about his latest  Non-place series which focuses on the idea of liminality and transience—or, as Oxford Dictionary would define it—the transitional or initial stage of a process.


“Asphodel” in Greek mythology is a plant that’s popularly linked to death and the underworld. This is due to its greyish coloured leaves and its yellowish flowers suggesting the gloom of the underworld and the pallor of death. Similarly, the exhibition—aptly titled “After Asphodel”—alludes to the liminality of death, with  Luke’s first interpretation of liminality being what’s in-between the point after death and before the afterlife.


Luke shared that part of his inspiration for this series is shrines. He focuses mainly on the four corners that form the structure, as seen in his Non-place series. A key distinction among the pieces is the introduction of depth and perspective through the shifting of the lines within the visual frame, or through colour and tonal graduation. This style is motivated by Luke’s interest in the dialectics between painting, object and picture making. His investigation of the elements of art, of lines in particular, has become a distinctive part of his practice, continued in this latest presentation.


Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries.


Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries.


From the show, you would be able to witness the evolution and development of a consistent and conscientious artist since his first solo in 2015. Luke’s standalone wax works on mild steel are renderings of the slow burn of time, a variation of form and purpose compared to his Chassis series of wax paintings in The Waiting Room. These new works point towards the transitional state of shaved wax, compressed into a solid form but ultimately durational and open to disintegration depending on its surroundings. The wax exists in a vulnerable reality; given time, it will return back to its original malleable state.


Luke confessed during the interview that throughout his life, he had been exposed to different ideologies with their own philosophies on how to perceive the world. Coming from a family of Chinese Physicians, Luke had been introduced to the beliefs of Taoism at an early age atop his pre-existing notions living as a Catholic. Even so, Christian eschatology, in particular, has influenced much of the theme of Luke’s new exhibit touching on the liminal idea of progressing after death.


An interesting story Luke shared was of his student who was inspired by her late grandmother in her art project. At the end of a consultation session, the student apologised for bringing up the idea in the first place—much to Luke’s confusion. “Death” is still quite a taboo topic, a sentiment that Luke hints at while exploring this fascination with the afterlife in the exhibition.


If you wish to experience this non-place between life and the afterlife, you may do so starting this weekend from 2 December 2017 to 25 February 2018 at Pearl Lam Galleries at the Gillman Barracks. The gallery is open every Thursday to Saturday from 11AM to 7PM.


Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Pearl Lam Galleries.


Gillman Barracks

9 Lock Road, #03-22, Singapore 108937

2 December 2017–25 February 2018

Thursday–Saturday, 11am–7pm

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