In Search of My Shangri-La 《我的桃花源》 – Recent Works of Wee Shoo Leong 黃樹良
Venue: iPreciation (誰先覺), 50 Cuscaden Road, HPL House #01-01, Singapore 249724
Private Preview: Saturday, Aug 20, 2022 (By Invitation Only)
Exhibition Opens to Public: Aug 22 – Sep 3, 2022
There is nothing so wondrous as engaging in a dialogue with nature. If an artist manages to capture such beauty of nature on canvas as to captivate the minds of the viewers, in turn, he or she must deem that as the greatest blessing.
I have always drawn on local sources for inspiration. It is hence never a must to travel overseas to far-flung places, for anything here could well serve as my subject matter. It might be any tree on this island that catches my fancy, a rainbow of colours that comes and go amid the greenery of the reservoir, the distant horizon that is far beyond the shoreline and waves of the sea, or some cargo ships stopping by under the deep blue sky and passing clouds; in short, whatever catches my eyes, near or far. Even a bunch of bananas in the market, a bouquet of flowers, or some old ceramic bottles or vats, could easily be welcomed into my painting. My goal is to distil seemingly disparate elements into pictures without words, that yet remind us, like calligraphic wisdom, of “being gentle and quiet but going far”.
I count myself lucky, as someone born to a loving family and a metropolis at the crossroads of east and west, ever open to cultural differences. We not only possess the romantic sensibilities of the oriental society, but also the technological know-how of the western world, which together provides me with excellent inspiration. Being based in this region dubbed Nanyang or the ‘South Seas’, noted for its rustic character, I have developed a corresponding style in painting still life and landscape. My aim is to create a classic feel through a gentle equilibrium in composition, with a grounded and meticulous approach to attention to detail. It is my principle that every dab, every stroke and every extended surface in my oil painting must have its raison d’être, contributing to a contrasting effect or sense of harmony. In a departure from realism in my still life, however, my landscape paintings are much more relaxed and impressionistic. The pictures composed in my mind are always calm and quiet, with breathing space that affords room for imagination. While the colours are decidedly harmonious, the outlines are understated despite deeper sophistication, to create a sense of being and transcendence all at once…
I must credit my living environment, my upbringing and my training for nurturing my creative spirit. It is through such a broader cultural outlook that I have developed wings of imagination, allowing my art to take flight in free rein. For 40 years now! I have strived in constant exploration and hard work, in search of a ‘Shangri-La’ as befits my own temperament. It is my own world of beauty, a field in which I toil in creative work, but also a place where I am most free in spirit, a place where I find myself most unfettered and most rewarded: a bountiful land, truly my own.
About the Artist
Wee Shoo Leong (b. 1958, Singapore) is a Singaporean artist who paints primarily in oil. Most known for his oil paintings of identifiable everyday objects (such as birdcages, vases, earthen jars, flowers and fruits) set against blank backgrounds, his still life works bring forth the simplicity in things. This sense of quietness and harmony later also stretches into his later venture into landscape paintings, which takes on a more semi-abstract approach.
Shoo Leong graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1979. In 1984, he won the prestigious UOB Painting of the Year, followed by a silver medal from Salon 85 in Paris in 1985, and the 1st Commonwealth Foundation Fellowship, London in 1986.
Shoo Leong’s works have been exhibited worldwide, including in Singapore, Brunei, Australia, Europe and the United States of America. These include solo exhibitions at Art Forum, Singapore (2021 & 1992), Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney (1987) and National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore (1985). Selected group exhibitions include Rediscovering… Our Local Talents, Fullerton Hotel Heritage Gallery, Singapore (2015), Many in One: 25 Years of Singapore Art, Washington, DC (1991) and First Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, Brunei (1989).
Wee Shoo Leong’s works are also in the permanent collections of Agung Rai Museum of Art, Bali, Indonesia, Nordmann Rassmann GMBH & Co. Hamburg, Germany, The Istana, Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, National Art Gallery, Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Citibank Singapore.