Singapore Contemporary Young Artists

Playing With & For The Community

The Pelagic Fish


Arnewaty Shukor, The Pelagic Fish
by Sha Najak

This month marks the opening of the Beyond Realm: The Pelagic Series, created by artist Arnewaty Shukor. Curated at Post-Museum, Arne went through a 2-month residency to create works revolving around her research on the aquatic surfaces of Singapore’s coastal areas.


What she did was to explore places such as Labrador Cliff at the Pasir Panjang Coast and Chek Jawa at Pulau Ubin to see how the colour of sea changes when the clouds transform. To do this, Arne had also taken a walk from Vivocity to Sentosa where the sea surface is most blue to observe the changes during different timeslots of the day.

“The whole series seems to be my journey as a pelagic fish, migrating from one thermocline environment to another. All the perspective of the paintings was composed as though a person or I is looking at it from the top view in the pelagic ‘neighbourhood’.” Arne relayed to me through an email conversation.

For those unfamiliar with the term pelagic, this is used to signify water levels in the sea. The twist is that the pelagic zone will only be used to describe water levels that do not reach the bottom of the sea. The pelagic zone can be called a sort of in between of the top and bottom or a middle-zone.

The surface of the water is the beginning of the pelagic zone and there are inter-relatedness of its colour change to other deep layers of the sea. Cloud transformations are most evident in Arne’s work as she used graffiti on canvas to relay this. The backgrounds of her paintings are in various colours of blue. A walk through the series brings you to wonder about the ideas and imagination behind it.

“This series is about creating a realm to discover between tangible and the real. Most of them were from my imaginations. I see these series as ‘unclassified mysteries’ and ‘registers tyranny of logics’,” she shared.

Much like the earth’s atmosphere divided in layers, the pelagic zone also consists of layers. As one gets deeper into the sea, water pressure increases and there is less light. There is a certain form of fish living in these middle zones and they tend to be nomadic. The pelagic fish make the ocean their open home and they are mostly oily, like herrings and mackerel.

Arne shares more on the creatures she’s chanced upon, “If you know the correct way to walk on the coastal base, you should be safe enough. I can see many small and amazing creatures or sea forms residing there on the coastal base caused by the sea current, some of these washed up on shores.”

I personally liked the feel of the works. The various blues are cooling and the stencils used on the works added detail. Which brings me to wonder about more of such works from Arne?

Arne replied, “This series will further progress and I am also excited to see how my works will turn out for the upcoming series of my 2nd solo exhibition planned next year. However, I have to bid farewell to the pelagic series and create different series which will also be ‘nature related’ and different from the previous ones.”

The exhibition is now on Post-Museum, 107 Rowell Road till 5th July.

About sha najak

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2009 by in Interviews.

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