Photography meets Chinese brush painting in fund-raiser

Blossoming Splendour (above) and Weightless Delight (left) are among the artworks on display at Soul And Sensibilities. In many of the pieces, what was created by the camera blends seamlessly with what was created by the brush.
Blossoming Splendour (above) and Weightless Delight are among the artworks on display at Soul And Sensibilities. In many of the pieces, what was created by the camera blends seamlessly with what was created by the brush.PHOTOS: KWEK LENG JOO AND LIN LU ZAI

Businessman and avid photographer Kwek Leng Joo goes to the Botanic Gardens at least twice a week to walk - with his digital camera.

Not surprisingly, the nature lover chose the plants and insects there as the subject for his latest art exhibition - Soul And Sensibilities - which was opened by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the National Museum yesterday.

Rather than just display the photos, Mr Kwek, 62, the deputy chairman of City Developments, sent them to a friend - painter and calligrapher Lin Lu Zai, 52 - who interpreted them and painted on them.


Blossoming Splendour and Weightless Delight (above) are among the artworks on display at Soul And Sensibilities. In many of the pieces, what was created by the camera blends seamlessly with what was created by the brush. PHOTOS: KWEK LENG JOO AND LIN LU ZAI

The result of their year-long project is an intricate marriage of photography and Chinese brush painting - two visual art forms that rarely intersect.

Guiding The Straits Times through a media preview of the exhibition on Wednesday, Mr Kwek pointed out artworks of clouds and pond reeds reflected in still water on an overcast day, and birds perched atop shoots.

He said: "Many of these subjects are ordinary, rooted in the everyday - the type of things we look at but don't see. I did not spend too much time photographing them, as I wanted a simple, raw feel."

Mr Lin said: "The beauty is that, in many of the works, you can't tell which part is the photograph and which is the painting."

The pair have raised more than $500,000 for this year's President's Challenge.

The amount comes from three works they have pledged to the Challenge, and the sale of art books signed by the President, who presented them to donors at the opening ceremony yesterday.

The President's Challenge, now in its 15th year, is an annual fund- raising and outreach campaign that aims to bring the community together to help the less fortunate.

The Soul And Sensibilities exhibition will run until Nov 1 at the National Museum.

It will then move to Galerie Belvedere in Hill Street, where it will run from Nov 5 to Nov 30.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'Marriage of 2 art forms on show'. Print Edition | Subscribe