Guest Blog

Han Sai Por

May 30, 2017

Words Sakina N.  
Photograph Han Sai Por

I absolutely love the arts, specifically, the Italian Renaissance, have a love – hate relationship with the Arabic language and am extremely passionate about stickers, socks, animals and plants!


This installation, Black Forest 2016, is part of the exhibition An Atlas of Mirrors, which is currently bed of being held at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) for the Singapore Biennale 2016. The artist, Han Sai Por is “one of Asia’s leading modern sculptors and a recipient of the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest artistic honour”. Han’s work, blackened logs of wood sitting on a bed of charcoal, is symbolic of Nature’s resilience against the environmental degradation that is deforestation. Despite man’s efforts in annihilating forests, these logs remain upright, they might be charred but their stance reflects Nature’s strength against forces of destruction.


In their own way, the logs are distinguishable, coming in various sizes, shapes and colours. Their marks and burns are unique, each imperfection magnifies the resilience of Nature. The charred tree stumps and their scars serve as a reminder of what they have been through whilst highlighting their strength in surviving. No matter how short or stout these logs are, they are all upright, standing tall amidst the ruins of their home, a once vibrant forest.

The room’s startling white walls brought the installation into focus, defining and individualising each log. This coupled with the unending stillness and silence allowed the viewer to be wholly focused on the work of art, magnifying the tiniest of details. The viewer was thus able to draw differences between the logs, distinguishing the greys from the blacks, the charred from the scarred and the tall from the short. Instead of transporting the viewer to aseptic hospital corridors, the milky and bare walls uplift the artwork, stressing the work’s beauty and purpose.


Similar to the tree logs that come in a variety of sizes, colours and textures, we too are different, each unique and distinguishable. We all have our fair share of scars, some physically visible like those on the logs, whilst others are concealed far deeper within the recesses of our hearts.

Such wounds might be a result of an injury, a jibe, an insult or even a broken heart. However small or large they may be, they never fail to leave a mark either within or on us. Admittedly it is hard to pick ourselves up, sometimes we feel like curling up into a ball, abandoning our strong stances and balling our eyes out. But similar to the stumps in the installation, Black Forest 2016, we have a guiding light, a startling white wall of our own. Our wall helps us, encourages us and reaffirms us. It gives us a helping hand, pulling us up, telling us to stand tall and to be proud of who we are.

What or rather who is our wall you might ask? It is our Moula (TUS). His shaan gives us the strength to continue and to be resilient. His smile warms our hearts and souls, providing us with the courage to believe in ourselves, making us stronger and better mumineen.

Whilst the ivory walls of the room amplify the logs’ immense strength against great adversity, the white-clad figure of Aqa Moula (TUS) coupled with his incandescent shaan serve as our wall. His soft smile magnifies our resilience and courage, inspiring us to stand tall and proud despite our many imperfections and differences. In the end, like the logs, we stand united as a community, stronger as one and ready for whatever might come next.


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1 Comment

  • Reply Tasneem P May 31, 2017 at 4:39 am

    I love the way you connect the artwork to our faith without missing a beat. Well written and analysed. Good going!

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