The late Anthony Poon is one of Singapore’s national treasures. As one of the country’s second generation of artists, the Cultural Medallion winner introduced Singaporeans to the Wave.
No, not the thing they do during football matches but a series of abstract art works characterised by how it brings down the arts to its most basic elements: lines, form and most especially colour.
There’s an ongoing exhibition now at the Singapore Art Museum titled Light and Movement Portrayed. It’s organised by the National Art Gallery, it’s on until Oct 25.
W-White on 2P Waves
Rising Waves on 2P
And because I was so caught up in the, er, surge of this sizeable amount of works, I’ve decided to invent another segment.
You’ve previously read some examples of my Goosebump Reviews.
I now introduce… the BRAT Questionnaire.
That additional letter stands for “ballsy”.
That’s because yours truly has decided that he will not pander to propriety.
The RAT’s alter-ego, the BRAT, will ask the questions no one dares to ask.
Here then is our short Q&A with The National Art Gallery of Singapore’s deputy director for curation and collecions Low Sze Wee.
Colour plays a great part in Anthony Poon’s works. So how can I appreciate the works if I’m colour blind?
Colour is only one aspect. Poon’s works also explores other aspects such as geometric forms, use of repetition, and even how different shades of the same colour relate to each other. Just think of all the wonderful things that are devoid of colour but we still love and enjoy, such as monochromatic Chinese ink paintings and calligraphy, pencil sketches, charcoal drawings, black and white movies, Oreos, kopi-o…
The works on the second floor are mainly those from the Wave series. Any risks of the visitor “drowning” in repetition?
True, repetition can be boring. But do look at his works more closely and you will realise that there is great deal of variety and subtle changes amongst the paintings. No two Wave paintings are exactly alike.
Do you think the Anthony Poon Wave will become as popular as the Mexican wave at football stadiums?
Why not?? The Mexican wave has been adopted by many football fans around the world as an easily-understood gesture of communal celebration. Likewise, many artists who adopted the abstract style like Anthony Poon, also hoped that their works would have an “international” flavor. Poon also uses a lot of basic qualities in his art, such as shapes, colours and textures, which could be easily appreciated by many people around the world.
Cheong Soo Pieng’s works will be exhibited at the Art Singapore showcase next month. What’s the historical and aesthetic connection between Soo Pieng and Anthony? Were they drinking buddies?
Anthony Poon studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in the 1960s, where Cheong was one of his teachers. Cheong was then at the forefront of modern art development in Singapore, and many younger artists like Poon looked to him as their mentor.
You didn’t answer the second question, you sneaky you… But I’ll let it go. I love his Wave relief series, but I also get a bit dizzy looking at it. Was that intentional?
Absolutely! Poon is aware of the optical effects in his art. He wanted people to “experience” his works, rather than just view them. If his shapes start to “move” and “vibrate” as you look at them, it means that he had succeeded in what he was trying to achieve!
Another work I like is his Joy sculpture. It looks like it could be a great children’s puzzle toy or an emblem for a car. Have you guys looked into expanding merchandise? The Toyota Poon has a nice ring to it. Or The Poonster, for that matter.
Anthony Poon had a great sense of design – so all his sculptures were very well-composed and appeals to the design-conscious. Hence, it is not surprising that his sculptures work well in both large and small scale.
Hmmm. I take that as a ‘no’ then. Excuse me while I get his designs copyrighted. But before that, one final question. You see, last night I woke up sweating because I had a nightmare. I was walking down a dark museum corridor then all of a sudden a gang of abstract paintings came out of nowhere and started screaming and chasing me around. The question is… how do I get over my fear of abstract art?
Forget about “art” or “abstract” or any such jargon. Just remember that whenever an artist creates such a work, he/she is giving the power of looking back to you (the viewer). You can interpret it in any way you fancy. Just ask yourself some simple questions –
1) What do I like about this work?
2) What does the work remind me if?
3) What feelings or emotions do I have when I look at the work?
4) Why do I feel the way I do?
5) How did the artist manage to make me have such feelings and emotions?