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Artists give Malaysian Twist to traditional Chinese Ink Paintings

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Traditional Chinese Ink Painting, Pixabay

Malaysia, April 11, 2017: While traditional Chinese ink paintings are usually associated with scenic landscapes such as mountains, hills, rivers, bamboo forest, pine trees or flowers, a group of local Chinese ink artists have given a Malaysian twist to such Chinese paintings.

They are featured at the Ink Sense Chinese Painting Group Exhibition at contemporary art space L’Atelier Rouge in Jaya One in Petaling Jaya. Six artists are participating in this exhibition.

Collectors and art enthusiasts can spot a distinctly Malaysian flavour or theme in this exhibition, with some works proudly drawing inspiration from traditional kampung settings, rubber trees and batik prints.

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At the show, Ng Yen Tee, 45, whose background is western art, has four artworks based on traditional Malay wooden houses. In her “harmony-centred” works, Ng contemplates on the idea of “home” – for a family and a multi-cultural nation. She uses three colours in her batik designs to symbolise the three dominant races in Malaysia. She also infuses her paintings with a dark ink texture to create a strong contrast for these colours to make each painting “visually more attractive”. Six years ago, she took up Chinese painting lessons from an art teacher in Klang.

Graphic designer Yon Chuk Yim, 48, feels that Chinese ink artworks need not be restricted to traditional themes. She explores a mixture of contemporary techniques, such as color splashes, and overlaying colors over ink.

Yon, whose mentor is Yee Sze Fook, a full time artist, likes to paint on the whim rather than follow a theme.

Veteran artist Shirley Chu Siow Eng, 67, born in Fujian province in China, Chu migrated with her parents to Malaysia when she was five. Choosing rubber trees as her theme, she recalls her younger days when her father explained how rubber plantations provided jobs and resources for the local economy.

Chong Buck Tee, 67, a graduate of the Malaysian Institute of Art 1972, who is one of Malaysia’s foremost Chinese brush painting artists, with a career span of more than 30 years, who has won numerous awards at home and abroad and is currently the president of the Bakti Art Centre in Ampang, and advisor of the Selangor and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Shui-Mo Art Society, loves to paint landscapes. At this exhibition, his striking work, Mystic Landscape, has a refreshingly modern feel. “My works are imaginary but based on what I have seen – either from my travels or from pictures,” says Chong.

Others taking part in the exhibition are Dr Kok Ming Fong and Karen Ng.

– Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

 

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Art Undersea: Cuban Artist Sketches Under Sea Among Fish and Coral Reefs

For Cuba's Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea

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Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz. He experimented until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve. VOA

Some artists like to go on a countryside retreat to foster their creative process.

For Cuba’s Sandor Gonzalez, there is no better place to sketch than several meters below the surface of the sea, surrounded by iridescent Caribbean fish and fantastical coral forms.

The 42-year-old first won renown at home and abroad for his predominantly black-and-white, haunting images of imaginary cityscapes, inspired by a trip to Europe and reflecting the aggressiveness of modern, urban life.

Then six years ago, he went scuba diving in Cuba and found his inspiration in the complete opposite: the tranquility found below water where all forms are natural and not manmade, all sounds are muffled and the light ripples softly.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez speaks to the media after painting underwater in Punta Perdiz, June 18, 2019. VOA

While Gonzalez had heard of a biologist painting underwater in Spain, he decided to experiment for himself until he found a way of sketching with charcoal or oil paints which unlike pastels or watercolor would not dissolve.

The Cuban learnt to then soak the canvasses for at least an hour and rinse them to get rid of the salt and any organic matter, before hanging them out to dry.

“This started off as a hobby, as a passion,” he told Reuters at Punta Perdiz, his favorite dive spot, sheltered in the Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 U.S.-backed Cuban exiles landed in a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

“But now I really need to come here, immerse myself and create below water because there is a peace there that you simply cannot find on dry land.”

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To do so, he gets fully kitted out in scuba diving gear including an oxygen tank and yellow flippers, and swims out 60 meters (197 feet) to his easel fixed in the seabed around 6 meters (20 feet) below the surface.

With him, he carries his canvas, and other equipment like a spatula for the oil paints weighed down with some lead to avoid it floating to the surface if he lets go.

The artist said he does not plan beforehand, instead allowing inspiration to strike as he enters a meditative state in the crystalline water. But inevitably his submarine work is more about nature than the cityscape series he continues to develop on land.

Being reliant on a tank limits the time underwater, but Gonzalez is quick and for this interview sketched in 30 minutes a flying whale, dragging a house behind it in a sky dotted with clouds. Palm trees grow off the creature’s back.

Art, Undersea, Cuban
Cuban artist Sandor Gonzalez paints underwater in Punta Perdiz, Cuba, June 18, 2019. VOA

“I really did not expect to see somebody under water, painting!” exclaimed Canadian tourist Mike Festeryga, who saw Gonzalez while diving along the seabed.

The state-run dive center at Punta Perdiz, on Cuba’s southern coast, some 172 km (107 miles) from Havana, said his work was an extra draw for tourists.

“For tourists, it’s really a novelty,” said Hector Hernandez, who has been working as a dive instructor in the area for more than 28 years.

Gonzalez, who makes a living selling work at his studio in Havana for a median price of $1,000 per canvas, exhibits some of his submarine work in the Punta Perdiz dive center.

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He is now hoping to get state permission to sell the work and develop the area as a center for underwater art.

“I would like for a department of submarine painting to be created,” he said. “I don’t think anything like that exists yet anywhere in the world.” (VOA)