The Medium is the Message: Artist Spotlight on Sarah Choo

About Sarah

Sarah Choo Jing (b. 1990, Singapore) is known for her interdisciplinary approach to photography, video and installation. Her work depicts identifiable moments and characters within contemporary urban society suggesting a plethora of private and often solitary narratives. The artist is concerned with the gaze of the flaneur, voyeurism and the uncanny. 

Choo lives and works in Singapore since completing her MFA at the Slade School of Art in London, in the Summer of 2015. Choo was recently shortlisted as a Finalist for the Audemars Piguet Art Commission for Art Basel 2020 and invited to present her practice at Le Brassus, Geneva in Switzerland and is a Finalist in the Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2020. She clinched the Gold Award in the 2019 PX3 Prix de la Photographie Competition, the 2017 Perspectives 40 under 40 Award and came in First Place in the 2015 Moscow International Foto Awards. Choo was also awarded the ICON De Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award and Kwek Leng Joo Prize of Excellence in Still Photography Award in 2013. 

The artist has since exhibited internationally at the Turku Art Museum in Helsinki (2019), National Museum of Singapore (2017), Busan Museum of Art in Korea (2016), ArtParis at The Grand Palais in Paris (2015), the START Art Fair at The Saatchi Gallery in London (2015) and Photo London at The Somerset House in London (2015). Her works are collected by both private individuals and public institutions; including the Chrysler Museum of Art, Singapore Art Museum, National Museum of Singapore and The Arts Club Permanent Art Collection in London.

Tell us about your work?

Yin and Yang is the basis of my visual language, representing passion and calmness. The contrast creates balance and tension, often represented through warm and cool colors. High color contrast is intriguing and is visually more pleasing than low contrast. Dreams are the inspiration for my art. The elements that show up in my dreams such as spiders, sailboats, cats, and dragons help to create a painting’s theme. They are a unique symbolic language representing larger concepts.

I begin by sketching and move on to under-painting, and at that point I am open to new ideas jumping into my mind. The process always leads to new explorations and discoveries. I explore different substrate including wood panels and canvas. Oil paint is my medium of choice, allowing flexibility and depth of color. I fill in under-paintings with big brushes, and then refine it by adding multiple layers of paint. If I stare at the piece for 20 minutes without wanting to clarify anything, then I know it’s done.

What’s your creative process like? 

The reason I create art is that I am a dreamer, and sometimes my dreams are strange. For example, I dreamed about Spider, Dragon and Sail boat. I didn’t know what it meant until I found the book: “The Interpretation Of Dreams” written by Sigmund Freud. Those symbolic languages could potentially mean fear, possibility and new beginning. He believes that dreams happen for a reason and do not just occur randomly. All these dreams come from our unconscious mind, and it is like a deep well, full of memories and feelings. These memories and feelings have been stored there from the moment of our birth, but our conscious mind has forgotten them. We do not suspect that they are there until some unhappy or unusual experience causes us to dream our dreams. So the mysterious nature of dreams sparked my curiosity to create my art. Creating a dream like wonderland becomes my interests.

My reference originally comes from the Internet which I purchased. Gathering some photos are similar to the dream world, I composed them together in a scene as my art. Several steps to complete: First, draw some sketches to see which one has the best composition and color scheme. Then, write some notes about why it works and why it doesn’t. Second, applying one coat of gesso onto the wooden panel, and after it drys completely, I will do it again repeatedly until the wooden panel is covered with at least five layers. I use sand paper to smooth it out before I paint. Third, rulers are a useful tool when helping me to draw accurately. Lastly, I use pencil to mark and to finish the contour, and then blocking certain areas to separate the value. I paint things just how they appear on the surface and at the mean time, I would depict subjective emotions, showing the inner reality as it’s interpreted. The image itself might be distorted or exaggerated in some way and the expression overrides the objective representation. I use bold colors to convey emotion and feeling such as the clouds in the painting for instance, which appear brighter and more saturated than they really are.

Whats the recent work on your #Heartlist?

Daniel Sprick is a contemporary Realist painter. But from I viewed his work, some of his painting has a sense of surreal feeling. He produces meticulously executed portraits and figurative compositions whose muted palettes and sense of stillness encourage slow contemplation. His paintings feature a range of subjects, from still-life of flowers and unlikely assortments of objects, to interiors and urban and pastoral scenes. What he influence me most was his dedication to his art because his extremely realistic paintings are fantastic, I barely can move my eyes from it, even this could tell from what I posted three of his surreal painting. He is a big drive for me to create my surrealism as real as possible. When I create the last piece “guardian”, I try my best to make my focal point realistically, so I can call it a surrealism.

Joel real set off to create new realities that are beyond the real and hence surreal. He seeks complete creative freedom. An uncanny effect of his work is from the juxtaposition of a realistic painting style with unconventional, and unrealistic, subject matters, such as the animal skull (or human skull painted by Daniel Sprick). So when I generated my ideas, I paint with a horse with wings ( Pegasus), which is not common in our real world. He motived me to Exploring and excavating the depths of the human subconscious mind, because the surrealist artist is the explorer to reveal to the world, another state of being. Revealing another level of the human psyche, and trying to elaborate from the depth of the human psyche.

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Instagram: 22, 2021

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