Inspired by nature, Harmony is a freestanding modern sculpture by top Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin. Standing nine metres tall, the outdoor artwork is located at the central plaza of DUO, a property joint venture between Khazanah Nasional of Malaysia and Temasek Holdings of Singapore in the Bugis district of the city state.
Inspired by the interlocking motif of plant leaves, the design reflects the concept of yin and yang to symbolise two forces that come together and complement each other, in reference to the harmonious relationship between Singapore and Malaysia.
In conjunction with the launch of DUO, there will be a special showcase of Latiff’s modern sculptures, entitled Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures, at the DUO Galleria art space unit until Jan 19. Comprising six sculptures, the artworks are made from steel in various forms and finishes.
DUO is an integrated development by M+S Pte Ltd, which is jointly owned by Khazanah Nasional with a 60% stake and Temasek Holdings with the remaining 40%. The gross development value is about S$4 billion. Spanning 1.73 million sq ft, DUO comprises premium apartments called DUO Residences, DUO Tower offices, DUO Galleria retail space and luxury-class Andaz Hotel.
“Harmony was shipped to Singapore and erected at the DUO Galleria central plaza at 7 Fraser Street on Sept 26 last year,” Latiff discloses in an email interview.
“I was asked to design a freestanding sculpture to be placed at an area near Arab Street in Singapore. It should be tall enough as a landmark to be seen from different angles. So I proposed and submitted a simple design with a few drawings and a small-scale model. Once accepted, then it was all work until it was completed.
“There were several important stages during the making of Harmony. Firstly, the fabrication stage. This is the stage when the designer/sculptor is challenged aesthetically; when the builder is challenged architecturally; and when the engineer is challenged by its mechanism. [This was] followed by the transport stage, from Xiamen in China where it was fabricated to be brought to the actual site in Singapore. Finally, came the most crucial ‘stage of erecting’ it for good at DUO. Meaning, the sculpture should be standing solid, intact and safe for many, many years to come.”
On what he aspires to achieve when creating outdoor sculptures, Latiff says: “If one could enjoy its appearance, its physical presence in a selected space, location or environment — particularly when light falls on its shape or form or volume — then I think I have achieved an important aspect of the creation.”
The response from the public is certainly one of his concerns when designing an outdoor sculpture. The artist adds: “The sculpture as a freestanding artwork is created for public pleasure. They are free to feel and to react as they like — enjoying its beauty and its durability. That is the reason why, when designing an outdoor sculpture, I am very concerned about its regular maintenance.”
Latiff first embarked on making sculptures as an art student in Berlin in 1961. “A friend who was a student of Prof Karl Hartung taught me how to build up shapes/forms from plaster of Paris. Later in 1967 in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, I made a series of small sculptures with Pago-Pago shapes or pagopago-esque. In the early Eighties, I did about 50 pieces of soldered brass,” the artist says, referring to his famous Pago-Pago series of paintings and drawings from the 1960s. Incidentally, he will be honoured with a retrospective show of his Pago-Pago works at Centre Pompidou in Paris from Feb 28 until May 28 next year.
Regarding his latest show at DUO, Latiff says, “I will be displaying six sculptures in Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures. Two sculptures are entitled, Isfahan 2 and Isfahan Green, and were done in 2015. Yin Yang is a new work (2017) made of stainless steel and another sculpture, entitled 3-in-1, was created in 2016. The other two sculptures, Growth 1 and Growth 2, were completed in 2011 and were exhibited with my other ‘modern sculpture’ works at The Edge Galerie in Kuala Lumpur in 2016”.
Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures is open to the public until Jan 19 at DUO Galleria, Unit 01-21, 7 Fraser Street, Singapore. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm (closed on Sundays and public holidays). For enquiries, email [email protected].