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Art What!: Leaf & Lore – A Solo Exhibition By Henry Lee at Mulan Gallery

Mulan Gallery presents Leaf & Lore, a solo exhibition featuring a series of charcoal, pencil and acrylic works by Singapore artist Henry Lee. The exhibition will run from 21 October – 19 November 2022.

Ephemeral Spring, 2022 Sakura (Prunus subg. Cerasus)

Trees have been honored and accorded the highest respect by different civilisations all over the world through the ages. They are ascribed with sacred meaning and immortalised in all aspects of culture across different civilisations, including ancient lore, religion and beliefs, song and art, myths and customs, and rituals and practices. People have sought to divine meaning regarding existence through the mythology of plants and trees, explaining the origins and workings of the world through these universal symbols.

Among these, the world tree or cosmic tree is most likely the most ancient and universal human myth of all. Connecting the sacred and the profane, the world tree represents order and harmony of the cosmos and the centre of the world (axis mundi) in many cultures and religions: the life-giving centre and world pillar responsible for all creation and fertility (tree of life), and the abode of divinities and source of knowledge linking heaven and earth and the underworld (tree of knowledge).

Ashes to Ashes, 2021 European ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Fundamental for the existence and continuation of life on Earth, trees provide food and shelter, medicine, paper and other materials, and are crucial to the processes of carbon dioxide absorption, oxygen generation, nutrient recycling, soil stabilisation and flood prevention. With the advent of modern industrialisation, trees have been relegated to being mere commodities, to be exploited for profit and development. The biosphere is in peril, as vast tracts of forests have been or are in imminent danger of being deforested, primarily for agriculture and urban development. Maintaining biodiversity and climate adaptation have become the central challenge of our time.

Leaf & Lore explores the myths and stories that revolve around specific tree species, including world trees, while highlighting their struggles to survive the myriad encroachments of modern society. These emblematic renderings and arboreal remnants in charcoal serve as poignant reflections, reminders of the costs and sacrifices borne by the natural environment in the name of human progress, and highlight the importance and urgency of finding ways to harmonise with nature.

Adam’s Apple, 2022 Apple (Malus domestica)

Henry Lee holds an MA in Fine Arts from the LASALLE College of the Arts. Initially trained as a chemical engineer, he went on to graduate with a first-class honours degree in BA (Hons) Fine Art from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, where he received the NAFA President Award and NAFA Scholarship (Degree) in 2013, as well as the Best Graduate (Fine Art) Award (2013, 2014). Drawing is the backbone of Lee’s practice, with the use of charcoal featuring prominently in his work. Inspired by his love for fiction, narrative elements are often embedded within his images. His works have been shown at Art Stage Singapore, Gillman Barracks, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens and the National University of Singapore, among others. His last solo exhibition at Mulan Gallery To Have And Not To Hold was held in 2019.

Leaf & Lore runs from 21st October to 19th November 2022 at Mulan Gallery, 36 Armenian Street #01-07, Singapore 179934. More information available here

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