Pastel prisms: Dawn Ng’s free-ranging installation at Hermès’ Aloft space

Pastel prisms: Dawn Ng’s free-ranging installation at Hermès’ Aloft space

When Singaporean curator Emi Eu approached compatriot Dawn Ng to create an installation to inaugurate Hermès’s refurbished flagship store, the visual artist barely hesitated. For one thing, it’s not everyday that the sixth-generation marque comes knocking. And for another, the site – Aloft at Hermès – is both a brand new, fourth-floor column-less exhibition space that is one of just five Fondation d’entreprise Hermès art spaces in the world, and the perfect blank canvas for Ng’s expansive, free-ranging installations.

‘When Emi approached me with the Hermès commission, she spoke of new perspectives and horizons,’ Ng recalls. ‘I thought about newness in the context of the world we live in today, which tends to shout or blare, to rise above the visual or social noise around us and create a big bang. I wanted to take the work in the opposite direction to a place that was soft, naive and innocent.’

The result is all that and more. Anchored by large pastel-hued plaster and wood blocks whose ends are lined with slender slabs of mirrors, the all-white room engenders an immediate sensation of quiet stillness. The random placement of the blocks creates physical gullies that coax visitors to flow in and out of spaces, their presence reflected in fleeting, disembodied mirrored glimpses. The concept is disarming in its simplicity and unexpectedly moving in the experience.

Ng says the abstract colour planes – an idea that owes much to the French post-war artist Yves Klein – represent different portals, and their symbolic and psychological ability to usher people from one place, time, or self, to the next, so that they disappear and re-emerge again.

‘I felt this softness and purity was much more powerful and startling when transformed into a surreal environment for someone to be immersed in,’ she says. ‘I wanted to create an abstract sense of moving through the soft pastel colour planes of an early horizon – that child-like, ephemeral place between sleep and consciousness, that gentle awakening to a new beginning.’

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