This March, Mizuma Gallery presents Squaring the Circle, a solo exhibition by Singaporean artist Ben Loong, curated by Syed Muhd Hafiz. Squaring the Circle represents Ben Loong’s latest body of works produced since the past year. Revolving around themes such as industry, craftsmanship and cartography, these works signal a shift in his artmaking, to one more focused on studio-based materials like clay and bone china. If his previous works were anything to go by, Ben has built a reputation for being an artist adept at using both conventional and unconventional materials. His acute sensitivity to these materials has also led him to reflect on their histories and our ever-increasing consumerist society.
Ben Loong, Tablet 2 (detail), 2021 © Ben Loong, images courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery
In Squaring the Circle, Ben’s dexterity is on display with various techniques deployed. One of them will be the technique of slip-casting liquid bone china in plaster moulds, borrowed from the factories that mass produce ceramic tableware. Stemming from the fascination with Chinese porcelain in the 16th century, the English invented a form of ceramic that could meet the insatiable appetite of the wealthy. This locally produced version eventually became affordable and flooded the homes of many. Ironically, China is now the largest producer and supplier of bone china.
Ben Loong, Tablet 4 (detail), 2021 © Ben Loong, images courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery
While experience dictates the successful execution of these techniques, the element of chance is also a significant factor working in the studio. The ruptures that are formed during the firing process mimic the fault lines beneath the earth’s surface. The cracks are akin to cartographic lines demarcating the empires of yesteryears. Ruminating on these experiences, we are offered a more nuanced understanding of Ben’s artistic practice. What might be disparate materials and experiences for artmaking, comes full circle in this solo exhibition by the artist.
Squaring the Circle runs from 13th March to 18th April 2021 at Mizuma Gallery. More information available here