Heroes 'steel' the show

Heroes 'steel' the show

SINGAPORE - The drumsticks may be clenched in his hands, but the bronze warrior is otherwise a picture of resolute repose.

He has chosen to turn his back on the war drum and avert the gaze of the world; the feud has been fought and resolved, not on the battlefield, but in his heart.

This sculpture, titled Quiet Strength, is an apt embodiment of a new series of works by Chinese sculptor Ren Zhe, which channels the fortitude and tenacity of heroes.

A group of 18 bronze and stainless steel works by the 30-year-old artist is on display at the gallery of the School of the Arts. The works are priced for sale at between $17,000 and $250,000.

Ren's latest works are a continuation of a previous series of warrior sculptures that were shown here in 2011.

For the artist, the figures represent a noble spirit rather than violence and they meld folklore with an aesthetic language inspired by everything from classical Greek sculptures to Asian martial-arts forms.

This set of sculptures, however, spurn the vigorous stance of the previous series. Instead, the warriors strike poses that evoke a sense of tranquillity and convey the resilience of man's inner state of mind.

Ren, who was in town last week for the opening of the show, says in Chinese: "We live in a time of relative peace, but the warrior spirit is still present, for example, in the daily struggles of the ordinary man."

This fighting spirit is familiar to the Beijing-born artist, who grew up in military barracks; his mother worked in the army, his father was a national athlete.

In his pursuit of art as a career, he too has had to arm himself with a never- say-die attitude.

"I did not come from a family of artists and, like most other parents, mine had hopes that I would choose a stable profession and lead a normal life," he says.

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