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Thursday March 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 2:07:14 PM
by yip yoke teng
Sweeping strokes : Dr Foo Yong Kong’s Waterfall blends wisdom and aesthetics from the East and West.
A HERD of mules and buffaloes lumbering across shafts of sunlight; a row of white cottages blurred in the spring drizzle and sun setting at the end of a long, winding mountain trail.
These are some of the beautiful moments seen around Qingdao in the Shangdong province, China, captured delicately by artists in a collection of works currently showcased at the Malaysia-China Friendship Arts Exchange Exhibition.
Juxtaposed against these mellow tones of mainly watercolour works are the vivid, intense and passionate pieces by Malaysian artists, executed with a variety of media.
The exhibition features 57 works
by 24 contemporary artists from the two places.
The distinct artistic characters sculpted by the two region’s geographical, social and cultural backgrounds are insightful when admired, thought-provoking when compared.
Curator Tew Nai Tong said Qingdao artists were known for their outstanding works of watercolour, which was the best medium to capture the misty mood of the coastal city, named China’s most livable city in 2009 and 2011.
Apart from watercolour, they also used oil, Chinese ink and mixed media but Tew noted that the presence of a strong oriental artistic tradition was evident in the works.
“You can see that the artists had skilfully applied Chinese calligraphy strokes on the watercolour pieces.
“Also, the artists had intentionally and cleverly left some space in the watercolour works blank as influenced by Chinese ink painting, a way to fire up the imagination.
“On the other hand, some areas are painted very meticulously, steeped in the tradition of GongBi (Chinese fine line painting),” he said, adding that local artists could learn a lot from such high watercolour skills.
Organising chairman Dr Foo Yong Kong said Qingdao artists were equally excited about the bold and experimental works from their Malaysian counterparts.
“Malaysia is uniquely multiracial. Such a background gives birth to a burst of colours, creations and experiments,” he said.
Dr Foo’s abstract works, combining Western aesthetics and Chinese philosophical teachings, are executed in strong, sweeping strokes and epitomise the country’s diverse background.
“We learn from each other, and it is meaningful that this kind of exchange exhibition between China and Malaysia will continue,” he said, adding that Malaysian artists will participate in a similar exhibition in Qingdao in September.
Artist Phillip Wong pointed out that Qingdao artists favoured landscape painting while Malaysian artists were inclined towards the conceptual and figurative approach.
His piece, titled Swimming Birds, in which he painted a brain surrounded by birds to portray peace of mind, is an example. He also paints on perspex. Again, this demonstrates how Malaysian artists often think out of the box.
Tew’s works offer a glimpse of Malaysian rural charm; the figures with their eyes shut suggest that they are basking in the simple, peaceful moments.
This time around, he intentionally left 30% of the works unfinished to leave space for imagination. It probably acts as an echo or a “Hello” to his Qingdao friends in the art arena, too.
The exhibition runs until Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, at Soka Gakkai Malaysia, 243, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 03-9075 6876.
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