Collecting Art with Poh Siew Wah

Poh gladly shares with us his thoughts and reveal a few recent ink works, resplendent in lyrical calligraphic lines and intuitive brush marks.

An evolving COVID-19 situation and being unable to travel, most artists are holed up in their studio painting the days away and hoping for a return to normalcy. Momentous Arts caught up with prolific Singaporean artist Poh Siew Wah to find out what he has being doing.

MOMENTOUS ARTS: What have you been painting lately ? You’re known to be an avid traveler – attending workshops, artist residency and museum visits. Has the pandemic affected your creative output ?

POH SIEW WAH: The pandemic has definitely caused tremendous disruptions over the world to this day. I would say that I am deeply affected by the lockdowns and uncertainties.  Having been living abroad in Malaysia for a period of almost 9 years and returning back at this time aggravates it.  Travels related to art activities like workshops and exhibitions provide a wide scope for creativities. Presently I am still in a ‘recovery’ stage from the shock and disruption and have to slowly settle in back to the new environment. I am not doing any large abstract works which I consider challenging but resign to painting smaller works and lighter ink and colours on paper.

MA: Your artistic practice ranges from watercolour, ink, acrylic and oil. Is there a favourite medium among them ?

PSW: My artworks are very diverse in different mediums. I believe an artist should be able to practice in different mediums and techniques which he can use to his advantage to express his ideas and concepts. Repetitions is a trap which must be avoided to escape from works being meaningless. Abstract acrylic works in large size enable me to express my intangible feelings of equilibrium and balance. It is something challenging to move from the unknown to visible forms on the canvas. My ink works which combine the Chinese calligraphic and painting brush techniques with the western approach to semi abstraction are as expressive creations in different mood. It is akin to tea drinking as oppose to coffee drinking in western art. Even my watercolours have moved to a new form of expressive brushworks and colours, away from my earlier realistic and impressionistic style.

MA: Is there any theme/subject that you have not explore and wish to take on in your coming series?

PSW: With the advance of new technologies the world seems to have entered into an age of convulsions and complexities. Pandemics, fake news, scams and dangers of arm conflicts are eminent. News are read sceptically. We don’t believe what we had been lead to believe. Art and artists seem too to be sucked into these muddles, without clear directions emerging. My new explorations may be guided with my perception of the present enigma, perhaps introducing a response to the new reality. Positively.

MA: What would you like to see improve in the Singapore art scene in terms of appreciation for local arts?

PSW: I think the level of art appreciation and understanding here is rather low with very poor patronage to exhibitions and art museums. There is no excitement to participate and look forward to unlike what I witnessed overseas. Besides art education which is slacking, high level involvement is needed to bring art alive. We have the means to do so properly. ◆
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