KUALA LUMPUR: Internationally-renowned Chinese ink artist and calligrapher Prof Dr Cheah Thien Soong, known for infusing Western and Malaysian influences into his ink wash paintings, has added batik elements to his latest production – a series of black-ink lotus pond paintings.
And two of these paintings were snapped up on the first day of his July 7-24 exhibition – one by a housewife with a Masters degree in fine arts, and the other by an artist-cum-collector. While one fetched RM50,000, the other netted RM40,000.
According to the 74-year-old Malaysian who is displaying his latest collection of ink brush paintings, calligraphy and porcelain pieces at Starhill Gallery, the inspiration for the lotus form came druing an outing with fellow artists to a lotus pond after a highly successful solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery last year.
“In Chinese culture, the lotus flower represents purity of character. Though it may grow in a pool of muddy water, it is clean and beautiful. And when you sit near a pond watching the whole eco-system, it gives you a sense of serenity away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” said Dr Cheah as he explained one painting that had little birds perched on a branch above a lotus in a pond.
The neo-Nanyang painter said batik characteristics had been added to his lotus pond series mainly because of his love of infusing local culture into his artwork.
His past Chinese ink paintings had also seen local and Western influences.
“One very famous artist in China described my work as freewheeling (in Chinese: no law, no heaven) when he came to my exhibition in China. To him, my art forms had broken the tradition in Chinese paintings but it was a good breakthrough in the art scene,” he said, beaming with pride.
Using mainly black colours in various concentrations, Dr Cheah’s porcelain works also evoke similar hidden meaning and depth of philosophy.
When interpreting his porcelain pieces, Oriental values emerge from the alignment of objects, space and strokes.
The pottery, on which was painted trees, birds and branches in few but bold strokes, was created and glazed at China’s porcelain capital, Zingdezhen.
Although also famous for his Chinese calligraphy, Dr Cheah only has one piece for display this time.
During one of his exhibitions in China, some of his calligraphic displays were “mistaken” to be the works of calligraphers from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) – the golden age of Chinese culture with calligraphy being its crowning glory.
The painter from Negri Sembilan is the only artist invited by Starhill Gallery to hold a solo exhibition as part of its activities for “The Enchanting Orient” event (July 7-9), jointly organised by Starhill and Han Culture Centre Malaysia.
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