1990年以来，“怀旧景色”、“绿满狮城” 、“绮丽风光”、“情系丹青”、“南洋乡土情”、“热带乡土情”、“美哉大自然”、“公园在花园城市”、“罗弄万国——最后一个甘榜 ” 、“诗情画意乌敏岛”等一系列个展，无不表达出对新加坡这片土地的热爱和人文关怀。而这种情怀与他作为一个国家菁英的身份无疑非常相称。
Glorious Nature in Peace and Harmony
- an appreciation of Dr Ho Kah Leong’s en-plein-air oil paintings
Many collectors have come to know of Dr Ho Kah Leong’s art in depth, and have been inspired to collect his works. As a junior collector I wish to share my humble thoughts on appreciating Dr Ho’s oil paintings.
Among my private collections are works of renowned artists from mainland China and Taiwan ; antique ceramics, classical Huanghuali furniture. In Singapore , my focus has been on pioneer Nanyang artists the likes of Lim Hak Tai who is the founding principal of NAFA, Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng whose masterpieces can be found adorning our $50 bills. Much efforts and resources have been mobilised into the appreciation and authentication of these works. After the first-generation predecessors, Dr Ho is one of, if not the most prominent of artists of Nanyang in our era.
Singapore's art community has been influenced by the pioneer artists southward from Guangdong and Fujian since the 1930s. It inherited the Hai-shang “海上画派”and Ling-nan style “岭南画派” which then dominated the China art society, while oil painting largely absorbed European Impressionism and Fauvism characteristics, followed by Cubism, Expressionism and even Abstract Expressionism style.
Then, local artists upheld the traits emblematic of its place of origin, fused with individual taste and interaction, to finally morph into what is now known as the Nanyang style of art. This art style has flourished ever since to express the unique local conditions which formed the striking regional landscape, with elements like the cordial coconut, plantations, kampong house on stilts, earthy coast and fading old landmarks.
Erased with certain parts of nature, are our memories. The artists have therefore not only drawn the original sceneries, but more with a sense of conviction from the heart. When the frequency of our emotions and that of the painter synchronised, art becomes spiritually infectious.
In the en-plein-air artworks of Dr Ho Kah Leong, we connect with the passionate brush from his youthful heart, and with romantic thoughts wandering in fresh nature albeit with a distinctive personal style. The focus in the pictures is to present the world from a more subjective perspective and inner emotions, to evoke our sympathetic resonance and showed tremendous expressionist characters.
Since 1990, in the series of solo exhibitions of Dr Ho, “Nostalgic Scenes”, “Beauty Lion City”, “Scenes Splendour”, “Passion for Art”, “Idyllic Nanyang”, “Idyllic Tropics”, “Beauty of Nature”, “Parks in Garden City”, “The Last Kampung of Singapore: Lorong Buangkok”, “Poetic Ubin”, “Splendour of Lakes and Hills” to name but a few, he has with passion expressed his love for his homeland of Singapore and his humanistic care. Did not this feeling seal his elite status of the nation?
Dr Ho’s 11 solo exhibitions in 20 years have shown viewers his fresh creations and achievements in stages, underpinning the exuberant energies to his art. It is not built on the commercial base to market his paintings, but on constantly developing and improving his personal art language, marking each milestone by creativity in thoughts.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Art language is a life-long pursuit of each artist. Once established, it expressed itself with consummate individuality each flow-on creation personifying its language. Indeed a rare realm, art language enable learned viewers to identify a particular artist’s works without his signature. In nearly 6 decades devoted to art, Dr Ho has persisted through his very hearty creations without compromise to eventually achieve this realm that shaped his art language.
We could find from Dr Ho’s series of solo exhibitions the transformation over different stages in skills and artistic conceptions. His works integrated rich colours and creative personal signature capturing the vicissitudes of Singapore – the city country in the humanities and geomorphologic evolution. His relentless refinement of Chinese calligraphy in recent years enabled the application of epigraphy strokes in the oil painting brush lines. Wealth in wisdom is unmistakably evidenced in enhanced brush sophistication.
Scholars of Song Dynasty rated spontaneous and undeliberate paintings crème de la crème. When "unintentional" pushed extreme, there be nothing to pursue deliberately, the painter shall not expressly exhibit his mastery of skills but with subtlety infuse his own artistic language and heart-felt sensation into each art creation. Eyes cast on inspired creations such as this infect viewers to nothing less than breathless, to the extent in which Dr Ho has done.
As a collector, we emphasize on the artistry and market value of the art works. Artistry is built on the recognition of art history; appreciating market value tells if the collection makes good return. Ideally both could be balanced. Dr Ho’s artistic achievements and its influence make him an enduring icon in the Nanyang history of art.
Collector from Beijing, Honorary Auditor of Southeast Asian Ceramic Society