Tuesday, March 18, 2014
One last visit to A Changed World exhibit...
Liu Kang's National Day
Chua Mia Tee's National Language Class
Chen Wen Hsi's Gibbons Game
Cheong Soo Pieng's Singapore River
Georgette Chen's Malayan Fruits
When I learned from senior museum guides that there will be an exhibit featuring Singapore artists, I knew it was one exhibit I would be keen to guide for.
My late father Antonio Morales, or Tonyo as he was called by us his family and his relatives, was an artist.
What would otherwise be just another drab wall in our home became an art space featuring Tonyo's works.
As a kid, I have memories of seeing him paint late at night when everyone else was asleep. His only companion would be his canvas, his brushes and paint tubes and a radio that played classical music.
It was him Tonyo who planted the seeds of my interest in the art world.
And so I thought what better way to say thank you to my Dad than by talking and sharing with strangers my love for artists and the visual arts.
Last October, the National Museum of Singapore staged an art exhibit entitled A Changed World: Singapore Art from the 1950s - 1970s.
It featured over 120 art pieces done by artists between the 1950s-1970s. Why this period? If one were to review Singapore history, 1950s to 1970s was a period of immense change.
The change served as an inspiration for the artists living then.
On one hand, there was a group of artists who responded to the politico-economic situation through their pieces. Their main objective was to use art as a vehicle to make people aware of the plight of the masses.
On the other hand, migrant artists created works as a response to the new environment, the changed world they were living in.
After the country achieved full independence in 1959, the succeeding years also served as another trigger for artists to further develop their work. One group wanted to capture the rapidly changing physical landscape as a result of nation-building efforts. Another group explored abstract art, seeing it as a new medium that would bring Singapore arts to the international scene.
The exhibit came to a close last Sunday. I had no plans of heading down to the city, but I felt that I wanted to bid the exhibit a proper farewell. Besides, I didn't know when I would see these pieces again. While walking around the exhibit, I realised that it was the only time that I actually had the time to really appreciate the talent and skill of the people who created the pieces on display.
My father introduced me to the great Filipino artists such as Amorsolo, Manansala, Ocampo, Bencab, and my personal favorite, Anita Magsaysay-Ho.
It would have been great if I had the opportunity to introduce him to Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi, Chuah Thean Teng, Georgette Chen, and Lai Foong Moi. These are but a few Singapore (and Malayan) artists who quickly became a favourite.
Even if I didn't get the chance to bring my Dad to the exhibit, I am quite sure he was happily watching from above.