Distinguished Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin has created a monumental steel sculpture in Singapore at DUO, a contemporary twin building designed by German architect Ole Scheeren

SINGAPORE (Dec 11): Inspired by nature, Harmony is a freestanding modern sculpture by top Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin. Standing at nine metres, the outdoor artwork is located at the central plaza of the DUO building in the Bugis district of the city state.

The design, which was inspired by the interlocking motif of plant leaves, reflects the yin and yang concept of two forces coming together and complementing each other — reflecting the harmonious relationship between Singapore and Malaysia.

In conjunction with the launch of DUO, there will be a special showcase of Latiff’s modern sculptures. Entitled, Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures, the exhibition will be held at the DUO Galleria art space unit from now until Jan 19. Visitors will be able to view the six steel sculptures in various forms and finishes.

DUO is an integrated development by M+S, which is jointly owned by Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. The development spans 1.73 million sq ft and has a gross development value of about $4 billion. DUO comprises premium apartments called DUO Residences, DUO Tower offices, DUO Galleria retail space and the luxury-class Andaz Hotel.

In an email interview, Latiff, 76, explains, “Harmony was shipped to Singapore and erected at the DUO Galleria central plaza at 7 Fraser Street on Sept 26 last year.

“I was asked to design a freestanding sculpture to be placed at an area near Arab Street in Singapore. It should be tall enough as a landmark to be seen from different angles. So I proposed and submitted a simple design with a few drawings and a small-scale model. Once accepted, then it was all work until it was completed.

“There [were] several important stages during the making of Harmony. Firstly, the fabrication stage. This is the stage when the designer/sculptor is challenged aesthetically; the builder is challenged architecturally; and the engineer is challenged by its mechanism. This is followed by the transportation stage, from Xiamen in China, where it was fabricated to be brought to the actual site in Singapore. Finally, comes the most ‘crucial stage’ of erecting it for good at DUO. Meaning, the sculpture should be standing solid, intact and safe for many, many years to come.”

When asked, what he aspires to achieve when creating outdoor sculptures, Latiff says: “If one could enjoy its appearance, its physical presence in a selected space, location or environment — particularly when light falls on its shape or form or volume, then I think I have achieved an important aspect of the creation.”

The response from the public is certainly one of Latiff’s concerns when designing an outdoor sculpture. He says: “The sculpture as a freestanding artwork is created for public pleasure. They are free to feel and to react as they like, enjoying its beauty and its durability. That is the reason why, when designing an outdoor sculpture, I am very concerned [about] its regular maintenance.”

Latiff first embarked on creating sculptures as an art student in Berlin in 1961. “A friend who was a student of Prof Karl Hartung taught me how to build up shapes/forms from plaster of Paris. Later in 1967, in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, I made a series of small sculptures with Pago-Pago shapes or pagopago-esque. In the early 80s, I did about 50 pieces of soldered brass,” says the artist, in reference to his famous Pago-Pago series of paintings and drawings from the 1960s. Incidentally, Latiff will be honoured with a retrospective show of his Pago-Pago works at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from Feb 28 until May 28 next year.

“I will be displaying six sculptures in Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures. Two sculptures are entitled Isfahan 2 and Isfahan Green and were done in 2015. Yin Yang is a new work (2017) made of stainless steel and another sculpture entitled 3-in-1 was created in 2016. Two other sculptures, Growth 1 and Growth 2, were completed in 2011 and were exhibited with my other ‘modern sculpture’ works at The Edge Galerie in Kuala Lumpur in 2016,” explains Latiff.

Latiff Mohidin: Painted Steel Sculptures is open to public from now until Jan 19, 2018, at DUO Galleria, Unit 01-21, 7 Fraser Street. Opening hours are from 10am to 6pm (closed on Sundays and public holidays). For enquiries, email [email protected].