Layers of fascinating colours

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 08 Sep 2018

Loo (left) giving a live demonstration of his method while Hanratty (in suit) and guests look on.

WHILE it is natural to view paintings straight on, further appreciation can be had from the side when it comes to Loo Hooi Nam’s works.

The experienced artist from Kedah uses the impasto technique where paint is layered on thickly to create depth, texture and movement.

Catching and reflecting light differently, it creates the effect of paint reaching out from the canvas. This can be seen at Loo’s 13th solo exhibition.

Titled ‘Touch of a Palette Knife’, it is currently on at the G Art Gallery of G Hotel Gurney in Penang. On display are around two dozen works.

‘Sidewalk Sales, Penang’ a 2011 piece.

‘Sidewalk Sales, Penang’ a 2011 piece.

Done from the early 2000s till the present day, they depict scenes that caught the 53-year-old’s eye during his travels around Malaysia, China and Europe.

They include the clock tower in his hometown of Sungai Petani, the Stadhuys building in Malacca and streetscapes of Penang.

Among others, there are also pieces with Venice’s canals, Prague’s stately castles, Austria’s countrysides and China’s bustling streets.

Most were painted in the morning when inspiration hits. Based on the photos he took, he spends four to five hours creating a roughcomposition.

From there, it takes another few days of layering the oil paints using bold, spontaneous and heavy strokes. Loo prefers an impressionist style, changing elements of the original scene as he sees fit.

‘Majestic Kuala Lumpur’, a 2010 painting of the Malaysian capital’s skyline.

‘Majestic Kuala Lumpur’, a 2010 painting of the Malaysian capital’s skyline.

“A painting created with a palette knife has a distinct energy. The purity and impact of colour that can be achieved is different compared to using a brush.

“As wet colours can be placed on each other without them blending together, the hues stay fresh and pure. Whereas a brush flattens and muddies them.

“I always try to finish the painting in one session, wet on wet, so the application of paint is direct, fresh and fast. This brings the painting to life.

“Using a palette knife is one of the most enjoyable things one can do as a painter,” Loo said of the technique he first employed in 1991.

He is driven by the philosophy that life is short and will be outlived by paintings that reflect one’s diverse and evolving experiences and perspectives.

‘A Bustling Day, China’ which Loo painted in 2009.

‘A Bustling Day, China’ which Loo painted in 2009.

His unique style has won him numerous awards, like a gold medal in SP Setia’s Art Fair Penang in 2001, and Pesta Pulau Pinang prizes in 1993, 1994 and 1997.

Besides the solo shows, he has also participated in around 200 group exhibitions locally and abroad in Thailand, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Kosovo, Italy, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, China and Australia.

Loo also put on a live demonstration of his technique for guests and hotel general manager Michael Hanratty, during the show’s recent opening.

His exhibition continues until Oct 31 and is open for viewing daily. The gallery is located at the hotel’s Level 1 link bridge. Admission is free.

‘Clock Tower, Sungai Petani’, a 2015 piece depicting the Kedah landmark.

‘Clock Tower, Sungai Petani’, a 2015 piece depicting the Kedah landmark.


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