"There is an universal tendency amongst mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object those qualities with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious.”
— David Hume, “The Natural History of Religion”
Metamorphosis is not just a shape-shifting process to lose oneself, but a journey of recognition and self-seeking. In the book ‘Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds’, Marina Warner (2002) defined metamorphosis as an ‘organic process of life itself keeps shifting’, and that the bodies are in ‘the process of changing shape’ but the inner souls stay. In many tales and myth, the heroes and heroines always ‘arrive at selfhood’ through numerous ordeals, disfigurations, misprisions and neglect then transformed and arrived into their personal fullness.
“Metamorphosis” is a series of paintings as part of an ongoing investigation of transformation, projection and animism. Inspired by the anthropomorphic trees in Richmond Park, Sirius Chan conducts a one-year research on the park during her study in UK. Through painting these human-like trees, Chan investigates the relationship of plant anthropomorphism, perception of reality, and the psychological projection on objects.
Psychologists believe such kind of pictorial form acts as a mental reflection of the person. We project ourselves to nature objects and see the illusion as the returned images. To the artist, this returned images are the result of metamorphosis of nature objects, which are also our doubling and our unconscious personality. The artist also collects natural objects such as stones and branches, and projects her pareidolia experience through painting on them. In the painting “Slumber is a Journey to the Eternal Return”, Chan take a closer look at the relationship of migration of soul in pagan metamorphosis and the regeneration ability of the forest, while other paintings depicts her fascination on the anthropomorphic trees