24 November 2016 - 27 January 2017

Primo Marella Gallery is pleased to present Zwitterion, the first massive Ruben Pang’ solo show in Europe.

Born in 1990 in Singapore, Pang has rapidly accrued international attention thanks to a unique thrilling visual language, filtered through his personal interpretation and engagement with experiences of Modern and Contemporary art, notably in Italy and Israel.

Guided by an intense curiosity and almost fanatical beliefs in painting, the artist takes each exploration beyond his comfort zone as a necessary personal challenge, and demonstrates a similar attitude in international residencies. Each trip is taken as a possibility to absorb a piece of our contradictory reality, and processing it through introspection.

Looking back to 2012, when “Deep S.E.A. – Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia” show was conceived, and Ruben Pang was just the promising youngest talent among twelve elder profiles, today Primo Marella Gallery is sincerely proud to share with you the fulfilment of a goal set four years ago when we first began working together.

Zwitterion comprises a series of spontaneous paintings and ceramic sculptures. The point of departure was Seneca's composition on Providence, part of his series of moral essays which encourage taking the path of resistance and having faith that above suffering and difficulty is an overarching guidance. His allegories of coming of age are often paired with images of surgery, mutilation and other visceral manipulation of flesh and emotion.

Ruben Pang wanted to explore this transcendence of the body and consciousness through an imaginary realm he has created and chemically called Zwitterion: zwitterion is a compound with no overall electrical charge, but which contains separate parts that are positively and negatively charged.

According to his words “the scenes in which the characters within Zwitterion live are compositions of non-linear narratives: these paintings are my way to easing myself into new ways of breaking away from dualities and self imposed rules and strict technical control, while trying to maintain a degree of finesse. I hope the negotiation between these polarized notions creates a narrative that could allow audiences to experience what I experience while painting: the tightrope sensation and an introspective yet infectious anxiety”.

Pang is hereby focusing on fleeting internal conflicts of the human existence, the ones that fall through the cracks: our ambivalence in raising children (Cradle Me Bravely), power play within family relationships leading to sexual tension (Eromenos--Role Reversal), the desire to transform ourselves, to fantasize about who we could become, cannibalizing our heroes or destroying our own image through anorexia or delusion (Gorging is Never Gentle, Hyacinth Girl). These are themes that are particularly difficult to address within a frame, or a linear narrative, because they reside so often in the subconscious, behind facial expressions, and we have to read between the lines of what is usually said in a conversation. “I'm trying to take these little stories and put them together as characters on a stage or film set, because primarily they inspire compositions for paintings”, Pang explains. 

The way that Seneca treats the notion of perseverance, transposing it into a visual narrative of surgery, was the initial starting point: “I'm interested in some way of corrupting this moralistic writing, because it leads to conflict, and I think this conflict could bring about more interesting questions, or at least is a way to get a glimpse of my own mind. To take Seneca's exaggeration and persuasive writing and instead of trying to transpose it into painting to further his philosophy or moral agenda, just turn it up to eleven and see what kind of story unfolds.
The painting process is always a journey. It needs to be a miracle, to me at least”.
Hyacinth Girl-Skinned

Ruben Pang

Hyacinth Girl-Skinned
Oil, alkyd and dammar varnish on aluminum panel
267 x 150 cm

Hyacinth Girl-Skinned
2016 - Oil, alkyd and dammar varnish on aluminum panel - 267 x 150 cm