Arts & Culture: Patricia Thebez maps decade-long journey with mental health in new “Wildflower” paintings

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SINGAPORE — MAMA MAGNET presents ‘Wildflower’, a new exhibition of paintings by Indonesian artist Patricia Thebez launching Friday, March 26, 2021. It is a documentation of Thebez’ own journey with clinical bipolar disorder, identity and health. The series of paintings are accompanied by a specially-designed soundscape by Singaporean musicians Derrick Tay and Ouke. ‘Wildflower’ can be experienced from Thursdays to Sundays, 12 – 8pm, until April 25, 2021 at independent co-creative music and art space, SainouSpace at 80 Playfair Road, Block A, #03-07. Visitors are encouraged to book a free slot here: calendly.com/sainouspace/wildflower.

The paintings are presented chronologically, and map Thebez’ decade-long journey with being diagnosed, finding stability, and now exploring her freedom in the present. Using a medium of watercolours, acrylic, colour pencils and ink, since 2010, Thebez has turned to spontaneously making marks and patterns on paper to express her moods and cope with her condition. ‘Wildflower’ is the artist’s first solo exhibition.

“In the process of creating ‘Wildflower’, Patricia consciously built up a routine of spending time outdoors and playing sports — something she had never actively pursued before”, says Tulika Ahuja, curator and founder of art programming consultancy MAMA MAGNET. Visitors to the exhibition can view this newfound physical expression translated onto paper, which takes the form of fluorescent colours and free-hand brushstrokes. The series of paintings will also be available for sale online via the MAMA MAGNET webshop.

It is Thebez’ hope that her paintings offer a series of lenses through which people living with mental conditions can be understood. “People often have the impression that I am strange and dangerous at first but that happens because there is little understanding between us”, Thebez says. In reading her own patterned paintings, Thebez recalls, “Blue and black, in my mind, is almost always associated with melancholy, while the use of the colour red colour signifies life. As I spent more time in nature, breaking away from familiar patterns and ways of thinking, I imagine moving upwards towards a neon pink colour – that’s my growth.”

In one of her most recent paintings titled ‘My own kind of flower’, Thebez imagines herself as a wildflower, growing freely without control. This piece, like others in the ‘Wildflower’ series, sends out a reassuring message to anyone who may relate to feeling like a misfit in society. It encourages honesty and inspires disregard for other people’s opinions. As the artist uses painting to explore the liberating feeling of being seamlessly and honestly intertwined with society and her surroundings, the exhibition offers space for visitors to similarly confront their own well-being. The accompanying audio by Tay and Ouke is intended as a soundtrack to Thebez’ cathartic journey with painting and creates a setting for visitors to explore their own ideas of freedom. The soundscape is also a tribute to the artist’s process, as Thebez almost always paints with music. Co-founder of SainouSpace and musician Derrick Tay wanted to “celebrate Thebez’ bravery” captured in the soundtrack. In tangent, he founded SainouSpace with partner Herman Shah last year to use music and creativity to fuel individuals in their self-discovery journey.

As part of ‘Wildflower’, SainouSpace and artist Patricia Thebez will also be hosting a workshop on Saturday, March 27, 12 – 1:30 pm. Participants will practice free-hand painting and mark making in response to multiple sensory cues posed by the artist such as textures of leaves, reading questions and listening to music. Seats are limited and cost $12 each to cover the cost of materials and light refreshments.

 

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