thea-dubois profile photo

I am a French Singaporean artist, passionate about multiculturalism and portraiture, eager to learn from diverse cultures and people through my travels around the world, and dedicated to celebrating global interconnectedness through my art by drawing inspiration from real-life individuals.

Heritage and Harmony Collection

My practice involves navigating the delicate balance between Eastern and Western influences that shape my own cultural context and identity, and is also inspired by friends around me. My work aims to celebrate dual identities by portraying harmonious blends of cultural elements, that despite their intrinsic beauty, have left me with a sense of not belonging.

My initial exploration of this theme emerged from a deeply personal struggle – the realisation that I didn’t nearly fit into the predefined boxes of any singular culture. Rather than perpetuating the division between our identities, I chose to transcend the limitations imposed by societal categorisations, shifting my focus towards the beauty and history embedded in cultural symbols and images rich with narratives that encapsulate both cultures.

Paint emerged as my initial chosen medium as its versatility and timelessness served as a tool to effortlessly bridge the history in cultural symbols and the contemporary subjects in my portraits. As my paintings revealed a narrative between cultures, I realised that the essence of celebration lay in the harmonious coexistence of cultures, guiding my artistic evolution through portraiture with acrylic on canvas as my medium.

Within my practice, scale has played a huge part in the viewer experience. My intention with creating large portraits was to create an expansive composition that served as a visual narration of Eastern and Western cultures mingling together, allowing the viewer to engage with the story from a distance. I present my portraits by hanging them on the wall to mirror the way other artists’ paintings have been hung before to highlight the role of the subject in the work. I have also added an installation aspect to the display of my paintings by weaving string between the pieces on-site to connect them physically, diverting from the traditional display of paintings.

Earlier portraits from ‘Heritage and Harmony’ collection

These earlier works featured text to symbolise the divide between our Western-given names and Asian-given names. Here, I also experimented with texture by adding modeling paste and embroidering into the canvas, providing my newer works in the series with a foundation to develop on.

Journey to the Show

I created a visual mock-up of the display featuring the strings I am sewing into the canvases on-site at the exhibition. I also experimented with different sizes of embroidery strings to see how they would be seen from a distance. After testing various mediums such as glue and attaching separately embroidered patches to the paintings, I decided that sewing directly into the canvas would embody the intricacy and cultural tradition of embroidery more effectively.