A Sculptor’s Secret Garden: The First Full-Scale Art Exhibition in Cloud Forest
06 Aug 2020-31 Aug 2021

ArtistLee Kuang-Yu 
CuratorTan Hwee Koon
Venue​Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

OrganizerGardens by the Bay, Singapore
SponsorCHINI Gallery


Gardens can make one feel wonderfully at ease because it provides rest and respite and it is beautiful… In a world paralysed by numbness, what can inspire one to move again? It is the power of art and the power of the secret garden. Once the artwork is positioned on site, it creates an energy that makes the world move again.    ─Lee Kuang-Yu 2019



 [About the exhibition]

Gardens by the Bay and Chini Gallery are proud to present “A Sculptor’s Secret Garden”, an inaugural solo sculpture exhibition by sculptor-gardener Lee Kuang-Yu (b. 1954) in Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay. The exhibition perspective is from a garden and a sculptor’s art practice, inspired by his secret garden set against the stunning slopes of the mountains in Xizhi which began in 1998 as an attempt to unify his sculptures with nature. Lee’s Secret Garden where his home-studio is located, is a cumulation of his experiences of the tranquil home-studio-garden of renowned painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863 to 1923) in Spain; and visit to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan’s first outdoor open-air museum of art located in a lush green garden with a view of the Hakone mountains. Lee Kuang-Yu would like his visitors to find rest and respite in his private garden. Lee’s Secret Garden is an ambitious project that embodied his visual and olfactory experiences of the plants, trees and air… in his garden – just like the sensory encounter with his sculptures.


For Lee Kuang-Yu, this exhibition marks a departure from his past museum exhibitions, the sculptures are released from the confinements of the white cube space and placed throughout Cloud Forest with cool moist climate of Tropical Montane regions and landmark 35m high epiphyte-covered mountain with waterfall. Sixteen sculptures are placed in response to the Cloud Forest sites along three main threading themes – A Quiet Respite in the Garden; Beautiful Memories; and Man and Nature as One. Embark on an intimate and transformative journey of art and nature with Lee commencing from the entrance with his iconic work “Thinker” paying homage to Rodin’s masterpiece and at the same time Asian sculpture tradition at The Falls. Next proceed up to the top of the mountain featuring cloud forest vegetation around 2,000m above sea level to Lost World, where “Empty Procession” dances in a state of bliss within the waterfeature – in unity with the surrounding. The downward journey along the Cloud Walk bridge into The Cavern allows a vantage view of the city and at the same time, a peek inside the mountain at “Wondering in the Misty Mountain” and “Hermit” – Lee Kuang-Yu’s expression of human body with mountain body fused as one. The exhibition ends in full circle at the Secret Garden where Lee’s lotus pond inspired ephemeral themed “Timeless” is placed in water within a surreal environment of limestone forest and caves. Experience a tranquil moment in the heart of the city through Lee’s sculptures sited within the Cloud Forest – a subtle reminder of the significance of garden as a refugee to find a respite from the hectic everyday life to immerse oneself within the beauty of art and nature.



[About artist's Secret Garden]

In 1998 Lee started his life long project of converting a barren land on the slopes of the mountains in Xizhi near Taipei into his secret garden by hand with each stone, each plant, each tree. The Secret Garden is the source of Lee’s inspiration drawn from the surrounding nature and expressed creatively through the landscaping of his garden and his sculptures. He lives and works in his studio situated within the garden where his life with art and nature comes together.




[About Curator]

Tan Hwee Koon (MA History in Art and Archaeology, SOAS University of London; MA, Master’s Programme in Comparative Culture, Sophia University, Tokyo; BSc (Hons) in Botany, National University of Singapore) is a Singapore-based independent curator with a research interest on both modern and contemporary East Asian and Southeast Asian art, in particularly, on migration/ diaspora and transnationalism. Hwee Koon is a versatile curator with a wide breadth and depth and an ongoing focus on contemporary Ink and Sculpture.





[About the Artist] 

Lee Kuang-Yu (b. 1954, Kaohsiung) graduated in 1975 from Sculpture Department of National Academy of the Arts, Taiwan and pursued western sculptural technique and theory in Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Upon his return, he taught at the Taipei National University of the Arts and the National Taiwan University of Arts, after retiring in 2006 he devoted himself completely to his art practice. Lee has actively exhibited internationally from Asia, America to Europe and is collected widely in both public and private collections. Significant exhibitions include invitation to participate in the 57th Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition To Have and Have Not at Palazzo Rota Ivancich, the National Pavilion of San Marino, Venice, Italy (2017); And a major retrospective exhibition Space, Poetry and People at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art, Kaohsiung, Taiwan with associated international conference, The Poetics of Space.


 [About the Work]



思惟 Thinker 

Medium: Bronze
Dimensions: H227 X 127 X 130 cm
Year: 2014
Details: Artwork List No.1


Location: The Falls
Site: Map 2A
Theme: Finding a quiet respite in the garden



Lee Kuang-Yu pays a homage to Rodin’s masterpiece, “Thinker” in his signature work with the same title that conveys the beauty of Eastern culture. In Lee’s reinterpretations of this classic work in Western sculptural history, he approaches this from calligraphy which embodies the essence of traditional Chinese culture. Instead of realistically portraying the subject with volume, Lee uses calligraphic line to delineate a person immersed in contemplation and outlines this image in three-dimensional space.



2015 Open 18. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, Venice, Italy
2015 The Moment–The Taiwanese Art Projects, New York, USA
2018 Poetry and People: Art of Lee Kuang-Yu, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan


Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan

A Sculptor’s Secret Garden|Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay