The use of flora as a subject matter has been a common and favored theme amongst artists, being powerful symbols and representations of peace. Beyond their aesthetical and decorative utilizations, floral imagery has conveyed ideas from refined to revolutionary since time immemorial.
The depiction of floral elements can be found in the most significant of art movements in the West. From the near scientifically accurate Still Life with Flowers (1617) by Ambrosius Bosschaert, to Vincent Van-Gogh’s post-impressionist, Still Life with Irises (1890), and finally, Claude Monet’s iconic Water Lilies (1908). This was not unfounded in the East either, as evidenced by Ukiyo-e master Hiroshige’s depiction of hibiscus flowers in Hibiscus (c.1845) and Xu Xi (Hsü Hsi), in Butterfly and Chinese Wisteria Flowers.
Unlike their Western counterparts, flowers not only speak a language of their own in Asian art, sing. Like a perfectly harmonized symphony, a consonance. Every bloom of a flower and fluttering of cherry blossoms tell a story.
The works in The Consonance of Efflorescence demonstrate the timelessness of floral themes in art by celebrating and honoring the roots of the genre, and inviting attendees to experience the language of flowers and ‘listen’ to their song. What stories will one hear from the melody of bloom?
The Consonance of Efflorescence features a collection of Chinese floral and bird paintings from South-East Asian artists, Ching Kek How, Christine Mak, Goh Beng Kwan, and Tay Poi San.
The exhibition runs from 31 May to 16 July 2021. Admission is free.
Elite Artist Profile
Ching Kek How
When one observes Ching Kek How’s paintings, the first few words that would describe his works would be enchantment, romance, and purity.
Hailing from Malaysia, he conjures magic with his deft strokes of watercolors. Warm and refreshingly light, his use of soft but bright tones creates a romantic hue that seemingly illuminates in a glorious glow. Lovebirds that commonly appear as a pair or a flock in his paintings introduces the purity and innocence of enduring love.
His paintings emit a sense of assuredness and reprieve from worries, transporting us back to our innocent longing for immaterial treasures such as love and peace, after our arduous pursuits for materialistic satisfaction.
Contemporary Chinese brush paintings, western-style abstracts, collages, naïve paintings, and child art – these are just some of the styles of paintings Christine Mak created in her tenure as an artist.
Beginning her venture into the art world in her early teens at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Christine was primarily trained in Western art forms, only imbibing the skills of Chinese painting under the apprenticeship of artists in Singapore and abroad.
Her introduction into the techniques and traditions of Chinese painting vital to her artistic development as it would be the catalyst to her recognition as a painter. Christine’s gift for the spontaneous flourish is apparent with her Chinese paintings; vibrant colors that dominate her palette depict the artist’s belief that opportunities to experience hope, happiness, harmony, tranquility, and triumph over life’s trials can be found in life.
One could only wonder about the plethora of creative outpourings that rushes through this artist’s mind.
Tay Poi San
Born in 1953 in Johor, Tay Poi San is a Malaysian, Lingnan style Chinese brush painting artist – an art movement founded in the 19th century Southeast Asia inspired by the early Qing painter, Yun Shouping (1633–1690) and Nihonga visual arts in Japan.
Similar to the Nanyang Style art movement in South-East Asia, the Lingnan Style advocates the hybridization of Western painting styles with the integration of Han Chinese paintings, in the spirit of revolutionizing Oriental arts, while maintaining traditional Han Chinese painting techniques.
This is very apparent in his paintings as he seeks to depict the beauty and tranquillity of nature by utilizing Blank space focus, a characteristic of the Lingnan Style that aims on the “presence of both the real and the surreal”. The use of bold and loud colors, while keeping the linework of the subject matter oriental in nature is a hint to Tay Poi San’s employment of Western and Eastern painting styles.
His paintings of flora and fauna exude an aura of calm, signifying his belief for life to both be experienced with simplicity and calm and perceived as one would the beauty of nature.
Goh Beng Kwan
It takes a short while to be able to recognize Goh Beng Kwan’s paintings. Born in Medan, Sumatra in 1937, he came to receive his art education under mentor Chen Wen Hsi (One of Singapore’s pioneer painters). As a leading expressionist artist of his time, Goh Beng Kwan draws inspiration from nature. He sees the beauty of the sea, beaches, lakes, and landscape not as flat surfaces but in their original three-dimensional form.
He does not employ any structured manner to create his abstract pieces, rather, it comes to him voluntarily and intuitively. His paintings are neither repetitive, nor monotonous, and each is different from the other in composition, color, and mood.
In his art, Goh Beng Kwan is most interested in the utilization of color. Colors are descriptive and characteristic in themselves; bright colors project energy and excitement, warm colors project love and beauty, flat colors depict immediate focus and intensity.
One can also notice that the colors help identify the form of known subjects such as the sky with a patch of blue, the trees green, and the ground being earthy-brown.
When: 31 May - 16 Jul 2021, 1030 - 1900