SCULPTING NATURE: Investigating the role and significance of nature in the sculptural practices of Han Sai Por, Delia Prvacki and Kumari Nahappan
Nature, with its wild and captivating beauty, has been cultivated as an artistic subject for centuries. Modern artists in Singapore in the 20th century, inspired by tropical plants, fruits and animals, merely viewed it as an object for liberating their artistic practice, experimenting with various mediums and artistic methods to depict nature as abstract shapes, forms or painterly illustrations. This dichotomous relationship limits the aesthetic role and significance of nature. Central to the discussion in this thesis are more recent critical theories and philosophies that contest the long-held divide between art and nature.
Arnold Berleant and Allen Carlson put forth new aesthetic theories that call for a more intimate relationship with nature and to engage with nature in its anthropomorphic context. Jeffrey Kastner also argues for the relationship between culture and nature to be reconceived, and TJ Demos proposes a multifarious eco-aesthetic of nature which considers the sociopolitics of capitalism, postcolonialism, environmentalism and social justice an essential part of the nature as an aesthetic. These theories frame critical analysis of the sculptures of Han Sai Por, Delia Pvracki and Kumari Nahappan. The thesis will compare and contrast the role and significance of nature for these contemporaneous female sculptors, who come from diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds, in three aspects of their work – their aesthetic archetype, their conceptual installations and their public commissions.