by Chen Sai Hua Kuan
Something Nothing forms a part of Sai Hua Kuan’s explorations of space, which use drawing as a metaphor. In Drawing Between Nothing (2009), the artist suspends bungee cords with magnetic ends that almost join together, ‘revealing’ the invisible magnetic fields between them. His series of videos and performances, Space Drawing, also explores the delineation of space through line, each following the release of a bungee cord stretched across abandoned industrial spaces.
Something Nothing explores the possibility of articulating space without the use of line. Inspired by the artist’s idea of translating a blank piece of A4 paper into three dimensions, the work comprises a completely white space that bears no visible markers of its depth. Consisting of an enclosed room—only accessible via a single entrance—it gives those who enter the impression of floating in an infinite space. This sensation is created through the unique architecture of its interior, crafted and curved in such a way that when light is cast into the space, its corners and edges become invisible.
On the outside, Something Nothing appears banal, resembling a white room in which nothing much seems to happen. Its transient and humble effects also seem disproportionate to its sophisticated construction, used purely to create an experience of nothingness. Yet it is this incongruence that highlights the irony of Something Nothing, as an intangible experience that relies on the manipulation of physical material. It is both something and nothing; a physical space that evokes an ephemeral experience of being in a vacuum.
Chen Sai Hua Kuan was born in 1976 in Singapore. He graduated from the LASALLE College of the Arts in 1997. In 2007, he received a Master in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.
Visually simple and often laborious in execution, Sai’s practice often incorporates cross-disciplinary elements of sculpture, drawing, installation, sound and performance with wit and energy. He received numerous awards including Artist-in-residency Award, ̈Künstlerhaus Bethanien”, Berlin Germany (2015-2016), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan (2013); The People’s Choice Award, ‘Mostyn Open 18’, Wales, United Kingdom (2013); The Visiting Artist Program of Earth Observatory Singapore, Singapore (2012); Best of WRO,14th Media Art Biennale WRO 2011 - Alternative Now, Wrocław, Poland (2011); Artist-in-residency Award, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom (2011); Best film of FAFF2010, Fundada Artists’ Film Festival, Wakefield, United Kingdom (2010); Winner of International Competition, “Tower Kronprinz: Second Advent”, National Centre for Contemporary Art, Kaliningrad, Russia (2009).
Sai has exhibited extensively, at venues that include “Singapore Eye”, Saatchi Gallery, London and ArtScience Museum, Singapore 2015, “Walking through Haw Par Villa”, the Esplanade, Singapore 2015, “Verticality”, Centre Intermondes, La Rochelle, France 2015, “Singapore International Festival of the Arts 2015”, SOTA Theatre, Singapore, ‘If the World Changed’ (2013, Singapore Biennale); ‘Sound of the Earth’ (2013, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan); ‘The Realm in the Mirror, the Vision out of Image’ (Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, China); ‘Arte Laguna Prize’ (2013, Arsenale of Venice, Italy); ‘Drawing Now Paris / Le Salon Du Dessin Contemporain’ (2013, Cattousel Du Louvre, Paris); ‘Panorama: Recent Art from Contemporary Asia’, (2012, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore);“International Film Festival Rotterdam - ATTRACTION OF THE OPPOSITES” (2011,Rotterdam, the Netherlands); “Luleå Art Biennial” (2011,Sweden) ‘Moscow International Biennale for Young Art’ (2010, Russia); ‘EV+A’ (2010, Ireland); “Busan International Short Film Festival”, (2010 Busan, South Korea); “Royal Academy of Arts: Summer Exhibition 2010” (2010, United Kingdom), and “International Festival for Arts and Media Yokohama 2009” (2009, Yokohama, Japan).
Plywood, plaster, paint and light