( Extracts from " WORLDLY PEOPLE "exhibition writeup,1996 )
The creative source of this series goes back to my personal fascination with old black~and~white photographs. Beginning 1995, I have had an unutterable feeling towards black~and~white photographs. If forced to express this feeling in words, I can only say that their antiquity holds me spellbound( because those black~and~white photographs which first sparked my interest were some ancient family photographs ). Their purity and simplicity appeal to me deeply.
"New Mother & Child",1996.acrylic on canvas(private collection)
Maybe it's because I've been a downtown kid most of my life, having been born and lived my formative years in the town area. The whole city centre is one multi-coloured landscape: all kinds of shops, malls, fast-food restaurants, cinemas, of all varieties. They are radiant and spectacular and totally bedazzling. My long-term encounter with these attempts to catch the eyes has caused me to develop a tiredness and an averse reaction towards loud, gaudy, bright and colourful things.
I just think that ( some ) people's lives now are getting more complicated, and yet more superficial. This makes me welcome the sight of the basic and essential black~and~white photograph with rich emotion. This is, perhaps, a retrogressive move on my part; I know it is a response to ( their ) unrelenting pursuit of material wealth, a kind of reactionary behaviour. I always wonder why we cannot live more simply! What's wrong with being simple?
"The Tree",1996.acrylic on canvas(private collection)
Question of Aesthetics:
The origination of this series required me to relegate aesthetics to a subordinate position, putting the content and message above all else. The reason is that investing too much energy into questions of aesthetics ~~ such as composition and colour effects ~ may result in a product that, in the final analysis, attracts the viewer's mental resources to an examination of the technique and skill manifest in the work, at the expense of its content. In such a circumstance, my objective would not have been met.
So if I want the messages in my paintings to be smoothly transmitted, I must first achieve the aim of pushing aside aesthetics.
When I was in the process of creating each work, I would be constantly on the lookout: would it be too perfect in its execution and portrayal? I was very careful and attentive about not letting my own art be drawn too beautifully. Consequently, the viewer will eventually discover that the technique in my paintings is poor. This... preferred method of expression, is intentional. It is partly in this sense that I consider my work complete!
"New Vampire",1996.acrylic on canvas(courtesy of Singapore Art Museum)
Creation of Mood with Black and white:
One discovery that I made, upon observing the reactions of friends whom I invited to my studio on several different occasions to view my work, was that using black~and~white creates a serious, almost tense, atmosphere. No matter how jovial and beaming they were before they stepped in, I could sense their attitudes change automatically the minute they stood facing my paintings. Sometimes even the air in the surroundings is affected by this gravity in a tangible way.
But from my own viewpoint, I like this kind of seriousness because it makes it conducive for the audience's contemplation of moral values, reinforcing the importance of my central theme.
"Woman",1996.acrylic on canvas