From 24th September to 19th November (8 weeks), Merlin Gallery presents Linescape: Singapore, a series of 14 paintings by Poh Siew Wah. Poh engages the scenes of Singapore in his lesser-seen calligraphic style that hinges on the traditional discipline of Chinese landscape painting (Shan Shui Hua). These premiering works are painted on cotton-based paper, also known as “rag paper” and were all done in a single sitting – true to the convention as practiced by the traditional Chinese masters. Poh further underscores the natural qualities of the paper by tampering with it – creasing and crumpling before painting.
The medium of ink on paper demands great focus and high levels of calligraphic or brushwork mastery. As such, the presentation of a landscape is regarded by traditional Chinese painters as a form of self-cultivation and a reflection of his spiritual engagement with the world. At first glance, the style of these paintings appears reminiscent of the Nanyang style. Upon closer look, more meets the fleeting eye. The scenes of Linescape: Singapore are not presented in a picturesque manner, or as observable on-site.
Rather, the sense of an idyllic street scene is disturbed by the imaginations and impressions of the artist, granting a certain tense underbelly that commands extended attention. Are these places really as familiar as thought? Or are these sights as unfamiliar as they seem?
Come look and look again at Poh’s own twist in his portrayal of Singapore landscapes. These paintings grant a certain sense of unity as a whole while its components achieve a form of abstraction through accentuated line weight and quality. Lines remain the nucleus of Poh’s work as he challenges the focal point of a street view. The atmosphere and mood of each painting varies; the Chinese calligraphic convention places emphasis on certain negative spaces while various demarcated structures, individual brushstrokes, colours, and creases compete for your gaze on rag paper.
All works in the Linescape: Singapore series displayed in Merlin Gallery are for sale. A Meet-the-Artist Session cum Artist Tour will also be held on 1st October and will be available for registration soon.
Location: 261 Waterloo Street, #01-11 Waterloo Centre, S180261
Date: 24th September (Vernissage)
About the Artist
Poh Siew Wah (b. 1948) is a Singaporean artist whose Rhythmic Exuberance series of paintings form the main theme for the interiors of Farrer Park MRT station. While his style is often considered to be of Abstract Expressionism, this distinction morphs from series to series. Poh has won multiple art awards and exhibited in 10 countries globally, including a solo show in Germany. He has remained an artist, art educator, and a commissioned Singapore Post stamp designer for 50 years.