An Evening of Art Appreciation

So yesterday was my birthday.

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I woke up and thought that perhaps I should give myself a day’s break, order lunch in via Deliveroo and simply while the day away watching dramas. Because it’s my birthday.

But almost as soon as the thought had come to my head, I decided against it. There is no time to waste for the self-employed,  because every waking moment is an opportunity to create more revenue-generating activities. And I just couldn’t live with myself for a whole day of non-activity. Time waits for no man.

I know I just sounded like a self-deprecating workaholic, but I’m really not so. Eventually I did proceed to do some work but at a leisurely pace while playing a drama in the background. Ha!

Last Friday evening, I spent a few lovely hours at the National Gallery for the opening reception of 3 of its current exhibitions.

The lighting at the National Gallery was immaculate. I didn’t manage to pack my camera along because my handbag was too small so I had to snap the photos using my old mobile phone with its three-years-too-old camera technology. Nonetheless the colours of the photos all turned out vibrant and beautiful.

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Immaculately dressed guests of the evening…
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Groups of guests indulging in private discussions after the ceremony…
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Delicately plated Chinese-style cuisine with free flow red wine and champagne…

The opening reception was held for 3 exhibitions – Wu Guanzhong : A Walk Through Nature, Rediscovering Treasures: Ink Art from the Xiu Hai Lou Collection and Strokes of Life: The Art of Chen Chong Swee.

Wu Guanzhong: A Walk Through Nature is a collection of works that the Chinese artist completed between the years of 1960s to 2000s as he travelled across China. As the title of the exhibitions implies, his works are mostly of nature and landscapes.

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The Wu Guanzhong Collection with predominantly nature elements…

I’m no expert in the curation of art pieces, but I found Wu Guanzhong’s artwork very different from the usual depictions of nature. His pieces leave a lot to the viewer’s imagination. It’s almost abstract but not exactly so either. His artwork made me wonder at what he was seeing and perceiving when he saw a tree, or a sunflower field, or a hut…

Conversely, the Xiu Hai Lou Collection was a lot more straightforward. This was a huge collection of Chinese ink and calligraphy pieces from various different masters. The long scrolls were definitely a lot more familiar and way more synonymous with how Chinese Art was supposed to be. By contrast, Wu Guanzhong and Chen Chong Swee were certainly a lot more innovative with their Chinese art form.

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Familiar Chinese scrolls type of painting from the Xiu Hai Lou Collection…
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Ancient Chinese calligraphy…
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A magnificent piece called The Scent of Flowers and Singing of Birds…

The final collection, which was called Strokes of Life: The Art of Chen Chong Swee was my favourite out of the three, and it was easy to understand why – there were plenty of local elements in Chen Chong Swee’s paintings. This collection would have been the easiest for local non art connoisseurs like me to appreciate. *cough*

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Different painting styles by artist Chen Chong Swee…
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He presented his art in watercolours…
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As well as in Chinese ink paintings too…

It is difficult enough for artists to get by in modern times, so I cannot imagine how it must have been like for artists during their times. I wish all of them were still alive today to witness just how many people were around that night to appreciate what they had accomplished. I’m sure they would have been very proud and gratified.

It must really have been passion that had continued to drive these artists to keep going. Passion is such a beautiful thing. Indeed, if we love what we do, we’d never have to work another day in our lives. Yet how many people can really successfully incorporate passion with their vocation and leap out of bed raring to go to work every morning?

I once read a quote that said “We are not just born to pay the bills and die.”, but I daresay that most people are in their jobs in order to pay the bills. Whatever these artists have uncovered for themselves, in my opinion, is something really valuable. Beyond the beautiful art pieces hanging on the walls, what I perceived were their undying fires and their tenacity to produce one piece of artwork after another. Not really knowing if their art will get recognised one day, the journey of an artist must have been a lonely one…

But to experience that kind of passion in their lifetimes, they were a life worth living indeed. I’m sure they must have had no regrets.

These three collections will be at the National Gallery until 3rd December 2017. Admission is free for all Singaporeans and PRs. $20 per person will apply for non-Singaporeans. Guided tours are available daily too in English and Mandarin for those who would like to have a deeper understanding of the exhibits. Come and spend a few hours at the National Gallery to get away from the hustle-bustle of daily life. You will feel refreshed and rejuvenated after that!

Somehow art just has that kind of effect on people.

 

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