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Wednesday November 16, 2011

Sailing over troubled waters

BE like a duck. Above the surface, look composed and unruffled. Below the surface, paddle like hell — these words of wisdom are what Malaysian-born artist Eric Quah lives by.

Things were not always smooth sailing for the 65-year-old, who faced many challenges abroad before making it as an international household name in the world of arts.

It did not, however, deter him from achieving what he wanted.

Today, Quah is hosting his 45th solo exhibition in 45 years, showcasing 68 selected paintings from the 60s.

Titled ‘Retrospective Exhibition of Eric Quah’, it is being held at the Penang State Art Gallery from now till Nov 30.

Solo exhibition: (From right) Quah telling the story behind an art painting to the guest curator Datuk Tan Chee Kuan and Tang.

The paintings depict the time in Quah’s life when he was overseas in Australia, New York and China, as well as when he finally returned to Malaysia.

“It is always very difficult when you try to settle in another country and adapt to their cultures. But as for my art, I have always insisted that I must do things my way,” he said.

Although Quah was born in Taiping, Perak, he calls Penang his home as he received his early education on the island and has settled in comfortably after staying abroad for more than 30 years.

Among the interesting pieces in the exhibition is a painting entitled ‘Soho Fashion’ which depicts a woman holding a bunch of flowers and wearing a huge hat with the American flag on it.

“I was in New York sitting down in a coffee house on a hot afternoon when I suddenly saw a woman singing and dancing down the street.

“She was wearing this huge hat with the American flag on it and holding a bunch of flowers, and immediately I got home and painted the picture.”

As part of an educational programme, an interactive booklet is produced in conjunction with the exhibition, catering especially for schoolchildren and teenagers who want to learn more about Quah’s style, use of techniques and choice of subjects, along with other aspects of his work.

Penang State Art Gallery chairman Datuk Tang Hon Yin encouraged youths to view the exhibition:

“It is important for the young generation to support local artists and learn more from them.”

The Penang State Art Gallery (04-2613144) is open from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.

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