Ruben Pang, "Amphibian"

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AMPHIBIAN RUBEN PANG


Installation view | Amphibian, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore, 2021



Installation view | Amphibian, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore, 2021



From the desk of H. P. Deleuze Singapore, October 1897 Notes on Amphibian When I first encountered Amphibian there was a strong if not disquieting peculiarity. This was the first time I had ever investigated the works of a man named Ruben Pang. So I asked myself: Has this been arranged for something besides the works? What is to be seen? This may sound a bit peculiar but please bear with me as I consult my notes. It was as if the arrangement of the works opened a hole in the floor, through the wall, the whole room a perpetual door. I was unsure then as today. I had a feeling which I continue to live. This was hard for me to unfeel. Yet I am compelled to tell you my story. For many years I studied the most arcane science. Some call it philosophy. And by this I work for resolution. For there seems an ontological claim in this exhibition. Allow me to explain. Ontology comes from the ancient Greek on and logos. The former is defined as ‘being’ and the latter: ‘speech, account, reason, definition, rational, faculty, and proportion.’ I note there are numerous iterations and competing definitions of this word. Here I provide the most stable version in order to remark on the sublime ontology Amphibian evokes. In other words Amphibian possess a fundamental form or what the ancient Greeks term eídos. If so, this form seems generated through a singular arrangement, the particular and exact lay out of this exhibition. This was so, according to my notes: This eídos contains eidetic variations of a single form, a formless interlocutor of the self, out of time? Yet whatever is out of time reaches into now. But this is nearly absurd. Yet this mystery must accord to at least a single point, manifoldly, in space-time. Theorizing as I have there seems what the Greeks termed dynamis, a type of spectacular geometric alignment, and one we may not readily see! So says my notes: shall we fail to rely on the organon of sense itself! Our access to it, by virtue of multiple points, the works themselves? What I could make of this phantomic, geometric field concerned to me (at the time) something fundamental: The quiet lines of some non-apparent manifold, secondary forms are engendered; generated by our movement through this dynamis, with them, into them, among them? Strums the ancient instrument, the manifold itself? Reduced to mere poetry the philosopher in me sought to track it down. To correct the mystical for the empirical. Tracking these illusions I sought to certify their origin, the self-deception that existence must be! For what secrets stand behind appearances if not the incom prehensibility of forever? For illusions are first our own apparitions, the trick of tracking down is in our own thoughts. Accordingly illusions duly protect this form – the illusions we make that is. And only the most absolute and brave philosopher will attempt to upend his own reflection!


Yet I must admit to a speculative breath washing over me. I may only source my notes to describe it: Why do I feel the wind of the sea in an enclosed room? Why do I feel something lurching behind me? The arcane science I use to solve the phenomenon Amphibian must first deal with the imagination. It fools us, it was Pascal’s most formidable foe! Yet the imagination is a great joy! I was caught up in it, says the notes: Be warned, when it drops us from the flight of abstraction a gut level terror pierces from inside. Then our only concept is internal, neither trauma nor memory – a fundamental shape change or reorganization. And in my notes I remark of a smell: an ozone afar, a far way lurking permeation of the common masks we don? A geometric blossom which reorganizes biological functions. Whom among the viewing, in this depeopled reality enfearing disease; who among you dare remove this mask? Do I fear my amphibian skin? Let us consider the becoming of some thing, the entry of some thing through a door, a door outside the common walls of the gallery. A door which swings wider than the walls and closes into a single point. No, I must set my imagination aside. With courage I asked: What type of muse could an amphibian be? Why name a muse thus? It must not be. One is apt to think of the amphibian integument, its various layers and porosities which aspirate, exhale, excrete, and eat. Yet where is this skin? I feel on the edge of madness, having come to this far off city in the midst of a pandemic. Nonetheless let us think beyond some disquieting half-figure, the unseen but felt, despite the weird sense of a last laugh; a humor behind eyes we meet. No. Let us consider it true enough and try to unsee it in the mind. With us there is a formless impression – I truly must call it that. It lurks behind acute sensation. Let us strum with the mind’s curious curved finger, this thread of thought, the thread which ties itself to a virtual corner, a corner beyond actual space-time, outside the walls we stand within. From the beach at night, nine casting hands to a night kept, red globe Have a Safe Trip Dear. One turns only to receive a message from ancient Ur, or so the notes said. A most strange line of tablets! Yet these tablets are not written in cuneiform. It is not punctured clay. It is from another place, the writing comes from inside, something slithered out, with an indifferent crawl, moving in accord to some vestigial will, as if dropping in from without. Upon review of these most haunting notes I tried to coagulate a thesis: This vestigial will reminds us, of our diluted facsimilia, the day to day which denies, a great absolute architecture of the incomprehensible, our sense for which, decays as clouds in sunset do disintegrate into space. The dance illusion floats before us. This will reminds us of a movement lost. More profane reads the notes: I need suppress the imagination, the migration of memories, a life we find in sleep, reaching back behind the brain, formerly performed, the grip of the instinct, to collision of forms, a movement becoming, amphibian cadence, of a depth behind time, a dance despite the title: Forever!?


I am a scholar of the most ancient, natural science, the parent of all sciences: Philosophy! This science owes only poetry for its progenic status. And I declare, as my time runs thinner: How could these tablets of Forever have parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? Forever here is a sequence shattered into tablets from which the amphibian, the near formless thing, slithered hitherto. Yet if we see how they – and yes, these figures must be ‘they’! – crowd upon an entry in each tablet, might we come to understand the horror vaccui of forever. Aspiration, exhalation, inspiration, inhalation. Time to eat. The tablets! Are they amphibian skin, some world terrain? What is being eaten? Is it the stars of night and early morning, clouded by the horns of a constantly illuminated planet? Have I now unseen the stars? Consult the bloodied moon in Safe Trip. Let us turn from my neurotic trepidation. Back to the works! They are significant points or objects in themselves. Each has a topography and there one finds spaces, figures, movements. The illusions we inflate and situate into ideas. For this is at the heart of eídos. The hour is running thinner and there is something I must omit – something to miss. I itch beneath my face, a face this mask has become. I glimpse this work Face Donor. I am seeking an origin. Here the entry point is forming; a feeling of an oculus. Quickly, my notes! An origin? The world here seems upended, the amphibian left the sum of our face; what it sees. And further to the left There’s a Star in Her Eyes floats a sideways turned eye! Can you see the strumming strings? The decoagulated morph in exploding flesh rain? Back to the tablets! Brave Men Run in My Family – and so the story of running, of being routed; the trauma’s embrace, ever loving ember, ever latching, ever piercing. This must be what is meant when the gut singer horns in a vacuum. No sound. Upon the back wall a story unfolds forever. The amphibian moves through each never to be grasped. In a row its moves, like a needle and thread through each portal. In each tablet found is a forever curling upon a point we cannot traverse. We shall, in want of origin, consult the illuminations of the paintings which remain! Yet the hour is late, I feel no walls, only the working integument; becoming amphibian! Says my notes: As if my brain dilated, stretch’d in the most brane ways, as a page in an old book flapping, soaked by the oil of fingers, and the eyes of readers; eyes which leave ev’r upon each leaf n drips of dreams! Going to persevere! Ah, Chrysalis! The eye turned center! The eye of There’s a Star in Her Eyes? The movement of an orifice, the turning manifold, ethereal innards – and then – the painting opens the hole, exhalation and inhalation: Chamber Music!


We must end. Come to the end of the circuit as we find Polyculture. Here the path once orated by Homer, that of horn or ivory, I cannot tell – illusion or fulfillment – one must decide – is lain open; this horn of Gut Singer. Says the notes: It is a path by which the body in bed is an open window, a drape of flesh, of nine points, of a manifold undrawn. And we see no end in the search of an origin, only folly; Only the organs of eídos, the works themselves, facsimilia. And now, on this faded hour, I write my last words. I have removed my shoes to walk in dream silt. Here among frogs, salamanders, and well-tempered beings; wiping dream salt from my tired eyes to let drift in a sea of light pollution. Yours most sincerely, H. P. Deleuze



Brave Men Run in My Family



Cloakroom



Hopes and Dreams



Forever Part IV



Mother’s Hardship



White Umbrella



Holy Water


Installation view | Left: Chrysalis; Middle: Have a Safe Trip Dear; Right: Chamber Music




Detail | Face Donor


Installation view | Amphibian, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore, 2021



Installation view | Left: There’s a Star in Her Eyes and She Knows It; Right: Polyculture



This is a gift. Anxiety, discomfort, and hypersensitivity—all signs of life. Every good story, every piece of music, breathes through tension. Every instance of conflict is a stage, inviting a performance. This moment is what this body is for. I’ve been reflecting on reincarnation, and its linear and cyclic form. A book which has accompanied me during the formation of these works is Reincarnation and Biology, by Ian Stevenson, a monograph documenting cases of birthmarks, birth defects and other congenital abnormalities between living subjects to deceased persons. The idea of an astral mould (psychophore) as Stevenson theorised, in which physical carryovers, between the living and deceased, are transposed between lives, is congruent to my experience in art and music: one receives. Over the years, I’ve incrementally convinced myself that there is an unbreachable castle where my creativity resides and guarded this notion jealously. I’ve promised myself that my surroundings will have no bearing on the shape of my imagination; that a creative touchstone was always in my pocket. To protect myself from sentimentality and dependencies, I’ve cultivated a detachment towards studios and resourcefulness to make the potential absence of the materials I use inconsequential. I needed the core of what illuminates the mind’s eye and actualises my reality needed to be indelible. Things played out differently. I’ve become attached to the land, to each season, and I feel very much an annex of the terrain and a condition of the weather. I also find myself yielding to saudade and accepting of being driven by a fear of stasis rather than impotency. Give in to nostalgia. Re-enact memories. Fall over yourself and find style -a consequence of being.


Several of the titles in this body of work are a nod to independent noise-rock from the late 70’s to early 90’s—you might recognise some of these lines from bands like Slint, The Jesus Lizard, June of 44, Swans and Sonic Youth. A lot of these musicians are anachronistic, masters of creating and manipulating tension, and each of them were poetic in their own way. To me, their music represents an unprocessed, analog, hi-def registration of their internal world. Their production style was minimal yet clear in its trajectory, and through their music, I was introduced to the aesthetics of a freer hand and a dispassionately-centered-mind. The art of my immediate surroundings in Sardinia are metals and ceramics of the Nuragic (Sardinian bronze age) period (1800 – 238 BC). Looking back in history, it is important to consider that every civilisation of the past considered themselves to be nestled within the pinnacle of technology. I imagine them saying “we could have made anything, but this was what we chose to do.” All art is contemporary. One of the things that struck me was the ceramics—unglazed terracotta in particular, appears the same whether fresh out of the kiln, or buried for thousands of years. My experience of practicing art in present is accompanied by music from the end of the 20th century and informed by sculptures from 1800 BC. I feel an expansion and a reconciliation, just considering that notion. I believe that looking at something is enough to connect you to it. Remembering it means that you’re in a relationship. These paintings and sculptures are made with and informed by the presence and energies of friends, artists, and musicians I love and admire. The presentation of the exhibition is made possible and cared for by Can Yavuz, Caryn Quek, Dharshini Kannan and Adam Staley Groves.


EXHIBITION Ruben Pang, Amphibian December 2021

Yavuz Gallery Singapore Essay by Adam Staley Groves COPYRIGHT © 2021 Yavuz Gallery

Singapore Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Road, #02-23 Singapore 108937 Sydney 86 George Street, Redfern NSW 2016, Australia info@yavuzgallery.com | www.yavuzgallery.com