Where to take a breather at Orchard Road

Where to take a breather at Orchard Road

Into the blue

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Edward Hendricks

The next time you're overwhelmed by the commercial cries of Orchard Road, step into Hermès at Liat for Agathe de Bailliencourt's mindful reverie

There's a certain level of calmness that greets you when you enter the last floor of the relatively new (they opened in May) Hermès store at Liat Towers. On your way up, the curves of a leather whip promise sensual depths while the motifs of a silk scarf shrilly scream of wanderlust, but you'll also find yourself drawn to the quiet of Aloft at Hermès, where art gives you a chance to slow things down for a moment.

After Dawn Ng's mirrored maze installation titled 'How to Disappear Into a Rainbow', Fondation d'entreprise Hermès has tapped into the understated appeal of Agathe de Bailliencourt's work. A regular in the Singapore art circuit (she's shown at the Singapore Biennale and galleries such as Taksu and the now-defunct Art Plural), the Berlin-based French artist returns to present 'Here from Here'. After you pass by the paper-based works where she's written the French word "maintenant" ("now") repeatedly, you'll find yourself seated on a white bench gazing at de Bailliencourt's bed of gravel.


The artist's deliberate use of gravel forms part of her message. On her choice of using a processed material, she adds that "there's an ambiguity between nature and its opposite that I find interesting." Individually painted in varying shades of blue, each piece of gravel has been precisely arranged together to represent a horizon, a landscape that's easy on the eyes with its colour gradient. Horizon is also this year's theme according to Emi Eu, the programme director at Aloft at Hermès who contacted de Bailliencourt about the project.

According to the artist, 'Here from Here' addresses the question of being present, referencing a Japanese Zen garden that offers a certain level of mindfulness. It's also an evolution from her 'Here to There' installation in New York back in 2012, where she painted a 270-metre straight blue line across a patch of grass.

De Bailliencourt herself has spent time in a Japanese Zen garden, a visually breathtaking one at that. "A few years ago in Kyoto, I visited the Ryoan-ji Zen garden," she shares. The Ryoan-ji Zen garden is Japan's most famous rock garden, housing the Ryoan-ji temple. "I think the Zen garden is very much about horizons and vision."


After you've experienced what it's like to disappear into a rainbow (thanks, Dawn Ng!), you'll now get a slice of respite amid the bustling avenue of material lust and ambition. Have a seat. 

'Here from Here' is a parallel project of the Singapore Biennale 2016 and is now on at Aloft at Hermès till 5 February 2017. For more information, click here.