Voyages: Oneal Parbo

Press release

Cuturi Gallery is proud to present Voyages, a solo exhibition by Oneal Parbo (b.1994). The Singaporean artist’s first solo show Voyages features a new series of oil paintings that will transport viewers to fascinating realms teeming with organic forms that possess an eerie yet alluring iridescence. 


Oneal Parbo is a visual artist based in Singapore that works primarily with oil paint. After graduating from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 2018, he has taken part in group exhibitions such as ‘Orthodox’ and ‘Raw Forms’ which were both held at Coda Culture in 2019. With Surrealist painters such as Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, and Dali as his artistic influences, Oneal creates biomorphic shapes through automatic painting, giving body to the unconstrained marks he makes upon the canvas. He then proceeds to mould and alter these shapes, replicating certain forms while adding extensive detail. This interplay between automatic painting and conscious alteration results in an elaborate rendering of otherworldly landscapes, where the flesh-like contours of these painted forms are both vaguely familiar yet alien. By avoiding realistic representation, Oneal’s paintings compel the viewer to focus on the form and composition of his works without the diversions of didactic narrative or readily recognisable objects. 


Voyages is a series of paintings that aim to facilitate an evocative reverie, as the viewer embarks on a subjective visual journey where one engages with the finer details of the works. The paintings function as portals to different dimensions; bridges that deliver one to uncharted vistas which are enthralling and exhilarating. In order to create these paintings, Oneal starts with automatic mark-making where he utilises acrylic paint to carve out rough forms upon the canvas. These acrylic swathes of colour act as an underpainting, from which forms are progressively refined and given more weight with each layer of oil paint until they become fully realised. 


Oneal also explores the use of partial backgrounds through this series as he seamlessly integrates his biomorphic shapes with the background, thereby imparting a monumental sense of gravity that pulls the viewer further into the world within each painting. As one wanders through the meticulously rendered details, the pearlescent and rubicund surfaces, as well as the sinuous contours of these mesmerising shapes, one arrives at the conclusion that the deceptively small canvases are but gateways that beckon us on visual voyages to the undiscovered worlds lying beyond the boundary.  


Voyage (I) features a sprawling organic structure that expands outwards from the centre, with moribund blue forms connected to sanguine surfaces that evoke qualities of viscera and intertwined tissue. The blue and red sections are punctuated by bone-white shapes that have a calcified appearance. The lustrousness of the oil paint used to render the serpentine curves of these forms creates the impression of undulating flesh - as muscle, sinew, and adipose tissue are meshed and woven into a complex organic tapestry. But while it has the appearance of flesh and bone, the twisted morphology of this structure defies known anatomy and physics, compelling one to view this strange mass as a peculiar substance with enigmatic qualities. Oneal’s work thus serves as a window into realms uncharted, featuring forms that stretch our imagination and captivate us with their intricate details. 


Voyage (VII) brings the viewer into the presence of another curious subject; a leaden sphere appears suspended amidst a background of dun and frosted blue, its inky threads connecting it to a segmented, arthropod-like structure. This main “body” seems like an amalgamation of writhing flesh, from the pointed appendages protruding in front, to the bulbous glands of its midsection, to the tentacles cloaked in liquid shadow that penetrate the background. Such a figure boggles the imagination and we are both taken aback yet attracted by this intriguing sight. One becomes lost in the work while marvelling at this meticulously rendered oddity, and as the forms seem to merge with the background, this otherworldly figure takes on an elemental monumentality that arrests the viewer. 


Oneal Parbo’s Voyages offer a series of visual experiences that take the viewer on evocative expeditions into unexplored dimensions that are both mystifying and enrapturing, where one is allowed to fully focus on form and be engrossed in the arcane details of each work. 


Oneal Parbo’s Voyages will be on view at Cuturi Gallery from 27 Feb 2021 to 14 Mar 2021. 


Text by Lim Shao Yu 


Exhibition Catalogue

Installation Views