Art Talk

Soh Boon Kiong: La Fantaisie Parfumee
By Swee Chin PAN


4 PM

I learnt a number of things on Saturday when I attended the opening.

First, Universiti Malaya (UM) has an Artist-in-Residence programme.

Second, the late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein was UM’s first Artist-in-Residence. He was there from 1971-1978.

Third, Soh Boon Kiong was appointed as UM’s Artist-in-Residence after his solo exhibition, The Lyrical Flow, held at UM’s Museum of Asian Art in November 2010. Current Vice Chancellor, Prof Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jasmon, saw his talent and appointed him. Imagine there was no one in this programme for 32 years!
By the way, if you want to see Boon Kiong’s largest piece of artwork, the 10m-long Fragrance Of Harmony, which he painted between May-November 2011, it is hanging at the lobby of the new Chancellery Building at UM. Incidentally, on the fifth floor of the Chancellery building is the Universiti Malaya Art Gallery (UMAG) which houses the university’s permanent collection – there is a treasure trove of artworks waiting to be seen! Go check it out too!
Boon Kiong with The Whispering Flowers
You may wonder at the French title of the exhibition (which means ‘The Scented Fantasy’). Very simple really, Boon Kiong studied and lived in France from 1988-1993, so he speaks fluent French. And this may also be the reason why many of his paintings have lovely pastels, the influence of the French Impressionists. He is also inspired by the Chinese san-sui (landscape) paintings as well as Chinese calligraphy. And indeed, Boon Kiong combines the aesthetics of the East and the West beautifully.

Bingley Sim, Adrian Chen & Wan Ahmad Satria

Chai Fun & Siund Tan

Ho Kee Chek, Tang Hong Lee & J-cent Mu

Jason & Tze Lee

Boon Kiong uses acrylic on canvas but his paintings have a water colour look to them. This is a technique which he has mastered – diluting the acrylic just enough to give it fluidity and translucence. Though his paintings are in the abstract, every spot, line and splash of colour is carefully placed…and each colour has a meaning…read the letter to Boon Kiong in the brochure.

 Joanna Cheah & Brandon Tneh

Kally Liew, Boon Kiong & Bingley

Stephen Menon & Jeganathan Ramachandram

Boon Kiong was telling me about his affiliation with rooms at the top of the stairs/buildings. In Paris, he lived in the top room of an apartment which happens to be the maid’s room in days gone by. In Amagasaki near Osaka, Japan where he lived from 1998-2009, he painted in a room at the top of the house where he stayed. And now as UM’s Artist-in-Residence, he lives and paints at the Penthouse of Wisma R & D, Jalan Pantai Bahru!

Surely this is a sign of just how far Boon Kiong has come in his career! And may his career be just as successful and illustrious as the late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein whose footsteps he appears to be following!

 Taka Chang & Yap Swee Ung

Thong Kok Wah, Maxime le Mat, Alister Low & Jayashree

La Fantaisie Parfumée features at MOMA from the 23 June – 7 July 2012.
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