Commissioned by the National Arts Council of Singapore as part of the “Pictures at an (SG) Exhibition” project
Awash in white and grey hues, Singaporean artist Lin Hsin Hsin’s painting how deep is the ocean? (1989) presents a picture of serenity at first glance. While looking at it, however, I am immediately engulfed in the all-pervading sense of emptiness and death evoked by its pale tones, grey shadows, and the occasional spots of color, as well as the incomplete surrealist outline of a four-fingered hand boldly standing in stark contrast against the rest of the painting, conveying a sense of “not waving but drowning.” The abstract expression of muted horror is peaceful and even poetic in its subtlety, and I attempt to recreate that atmosphere through my music. My composition is merely a musical representation of my own emotional response to Lin's artwork.
Premiered by musicians Sheng Jia-Min (piccolo) and Cheong Mun Hoe (clarinet) from the Philharmonic Winds, on 26 & 27 October 2019 at the National Gallery of Singapore