WEATHERING STORMS AS ONE is a fine showcase of over 30 sculptures by the renowned Singaporean artist Lim Leong Seng, and is the artist’s eighth solo exhibition. Born in 1950 in Singapore, Lim’s ongoing creative journey spans nearly 50 years, covering the broad spectrum of Chinese and Western art, painting, collage, sculpture and other three dimensional works. A multi-talented artist, Lim has created and exhibited his works since 1969, and is recognised for his bold and experimental approach to art. In the 1970s, he was a forerunner of the nascent modernist art movement in Singapore, at one point even incorporating found objects into his sculptural work, imbuing social context and relevance into sculptural forms. This continuity of the harmony between form and content, history and place can still be seen in this exhibition of sculptures. In addition to his accomplishments as an artist, Lim also worked as a graphic designer at Singapore Press Holdings from 1980 to 85, and served as Chairman of the Modern Art Society, Telok Kurau Studios Committee and other various advisory panels.
In 2001, Lim was the winner of an open call proposal by the Singapore Tourism Board to produce public art for Telok Ayer Green, a park in central Singapore. He completed the project which consisted of three life-sized bronze sculptures that depicted early immigrant life in Singapore: a Chinese coolie, an Indian milk seller and a mid-autumn lantern procession. In part, because of this project, Lim developed an interest in the life and culture of these early immigrants to Nanyang through his research. He realised that there was in fact a culture unique to this region even before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, brought about by the Arab merchants and Chinese and Indian migrants who mostly came here as labourers, and of course, also by the indigenous cultures of the Malays and Peranakans. The opulent dress and lifestyle of the Straits Chinese, the weathered faces of the Samsui women, and the hum of life along the Singapore River and the merchants and labourers at work – all these provided ample artistic inspiration for the artist to continue his Heritage series to this day.
The prosperity, ideals and aspirations of the nation are translated into energetic sculptural forms in bronze. From his abstract works, Soaring (2010) and Kinship (2010) belong to the series of large scale public sculptures by the artist, revolving around the theme of family. The dynamism and fullness of the forms lends a feeling of harmony and pleasantness, celebrating the importance of love and unity in a family. Showcased in this exhibition are smaller scale editions of these monumental pieces. Lim’s expertise in large-scale commissioned works goes back to 1986, with his mural relief Expression for the Kallang Theatre. The various genres and styles in which Lim works reveals his keen sense of design, proportion and strong grasp of visual elements and composition.
Although the title of this exhibition, Weathering Storms as One, is named after one of the artist’s bronze sculpture depicting the late Minister Mentor of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, it is noteworthy that Lim also reminds us of the labour and sacrifices of the men and women who contributed to the building of Singapore as a nation. The success of the Singapore story is the result of many, including the great masses of common people. As a sculptor of bronze, Lim has succeeded in monumentalizing the unsung heroes—labourers such as the coolies and samsui women, making them into icons of our national history and preserving our heritage for generations to come.