Perfect strokes by six artists

Law (third, right) and Yeoh (second, right) looking at a painting. With them are guests and artists including (from left, in front) Ooi, Ang and Loh with Hon Piaw (fourth, right) and Loo (right). — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

Chinese brush paintings are a testament to skills honed over decades.

Each stroke is a defining action that cannot be corrected or improved upon, so artists have to be assured and flawless.

The ongoing Six Artists Chinese Brush Painting Exhibition at the Penang State Assembly building showcases 60 finely executed pieces by Penang Chinese Brush Painting Art Society chairman Loh Kooi Loong, deputy chairmen Loo Moh See and Ooi Kok Chuan as well as advisors Hon Piaw, Ang Tin Kean and Ng Hun Kim.

Loh said their works all had personal nuances but fell under the Nanyang or “southern ocean” style first practised by migrant Chinese artists in South-East Asia in the 1940s to 1960s.

This movement incorporated some Western art techniques and South-East Asian subject matter with Chinese ink traditions that date back over two millennia.

Offering an example, Loh said artists would use local flowers instead of peonies or indigenous animals instead of phoenixes.

For the show, the six artists each put up 10 pieces.

Some preferred a more detailed approach while others went with freer strokes. However, the key factor was controlling the flow of inks and pigments.

“In Chinese brush painting, you don’t get any do-overs or fixes. Every stroke must be perfect when the brush touches the paper for the first time.

“We’re pleased to be able to hold art shows again. The Covid-19 pandemic brought the art scene to a stop for almost two years and it’s nice to regain the buzz,” said Loh at the show’s opening in George Town.

Ooi hoped their works would help carry the torch for Chinese art and give art lovers, students and collectors alike a platform to meet and exchange ideas.

The opening was attended by state assembly Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang and state tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.

“I commend the society members who also teach Chinese brush painting to students, which ensures that there will be more generations to keep this artform going,” Law commented.

Yeoh said, “Penang is the centre of art in this region so we are putting much effort into elevating the industry, such as creating more galleries and exhibition spaces to cater to artists.”

Law and Yeoh were later taken on a tour of the exhibition by the six artists who shared their creative processes.

The exhibition continues until Sunday and is open for viewing daily from 10.30am to 5.30pm. Admission is free.

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