Glue Again (2019)

The creations featured in GLUE AGAIN showcase the range and aesthetic potential of hot melt adhesive (HMA), a commonly used thermoplastic. Though thermoplastics are widely known for their functional properties, they are rarely valued for their aesthetic qualities. With this exhibition, however, Tay calls into question our assumptions about a material. By expanding the language of HMA, he has transformed this humble thermoplastic beyond its recognised form as hot glue—a traditional intermediate material—into works which allow HMA to not only stand alone as a medium of expression, but also flourish.

GLUE AGAIN brings together a three-year study done by Tay of the use of the material HMA. In the works of two of Tay’s previous series — Conjugation: Singapore (2018) and Conjugation: Shanghai (2017) — which featured HMA solely applied onto canvas, the medium was easily recognisable as everyday hot glue. In GLUE AGAIN, however, Tay utilises a variety of different textures, tones and techniques to transform HMA into something that makes us question whether what we are viewing is indeed that with which we think we are familiar.

In addition to the choice of HMA as a medium, another common theme throughout GLUE AGAIN is Tay’s use of repetition of motion as the primary technique within each piece. Whether in the bold, fan-like strokes in MR1 to MR12 (2019) or the fluffy, cloud-like surface of LS1 and LS2 (2019), each work has been created by using the repetition of a different technique. In a world which embraces efficiencies that result from standardisation, repetitive manual movements are often seen as something superfluous and targets for automation. In many of the pieces on display today, from the familiar overlaid lines of the Conjugation series to some of his newer works, the artist has embraced repetition in order to tease out the hitherto unrecognisable sides of HMA, again seeking to challenge our assumptions.

In the final piece of GLUE AGAIN, Restarting (2019), Tay revisits, reshapes and reforms HMA offcuts that were generated during the creation of the other works of the exhibition. What emerges is both a beautiful amalgamation of the experimental studies and a reprise of the functional features of the thermoplastic in what may hint that he has not finished extracting the possibilities from within this material.

Solo exhibition : 32 Rowell Road, 18th November – 2nd December 2019.

Text by Justin Scott