‘Rivières’ Art Exhibition Held by 2nd Generation Artist Khan Siong Ann

2nd-Generation-Artist-Khan-Siong-Ann-Holds-Rivières-Art-Exhibition
Second-generation artist Mr Khan Siong Ann. (Epoch Times)
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By Li Yen

(WATCH: Artist Khan Siong Ann and his work)
2nd-Generation-Artist-Khan-Siong-Ann-Holds-Rivières-Art-Exhibition
Second-generation artist Mr Khan Siong Ann. (Epoch Times)

An artist has to rely on himself and work hard. It depends on how the artist attains his realm through cultivating [his character and skill].

– Second-generation artist Khan Siong Ann

Born in 1942, second-generation artist Khan Siong Ann has been painting for over six decades.

His interest in art was ignited after seeing his neighbour paint some watercolour drawings on calendars.

“I loved seeing him paint. I was touched by his paintings,” says the bespectacled artist.

He began following his penchant for art by enrolling in Chung Cheng High School.

“I was also influenced my younger brother, who had participated in Chung Cheng’s Art Research Society. We impacted one another,” he shares.

Khan later enrolled in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), where he had studied sketching, oil painting, Chinese painting and watercolour.

Journey to Paris

Life in Paris was hard

– Second-generation artist Khan Siong Ann

After graduating from NAFA in 1967, Mr Khan worked as an illustrator in an advertising firm for a few years, before embarking on a journey to Paris in 1974, in a quest to perfect his art.

“If I want to excel in oil painting, which is not possible in Singapore, I have to go to Paris. There is no better place to study oil painting than Paris,” he says.

Another reason that he had travelled to Paris was to see the works of his favourite artist, Rembrandt van Rijn, displayed in the Louvre Museum.

Khan says that his heart was stirred after seeing Rembrandt’s portrait paintings, which he describes as ‘exuding breath and soul’.

In Paris, art is a ceaseless part of people’s lives. The city’s illustrious art scene is home to the world’s most renowned oil paintings.

“There’s a plethora of galleries and museums in Paris. Since they offer free admission on Sunday, I made use of this day to visit the galleries to study the artworks of the masters, and to learn their skills,” he explains.

“Life in Paris was hard,” he laments.

In order to live there, he had to take on several part-time jobs, including painting oriental furniture and selling his watercolour paintings and calligraphy.

He used all of his spare time to study French art and painting techniques.

He wanted to enrol in a Paris art academy, but couldn’t afford the enrolment fee. Thus, he resigned himself  to ‘self-study’.

“Paris is a good environment to learn oil painting. During that time, there were art schools in every region of Paris. The art academies in Paris were very open. They welcomed everyone to join their drawing classes, even if you were not one of their students,” he recalls.

But, he had to pay French franc $10 to join a drawing class.

Nonetheless, living in Paris gave him an opportunity to master the techniques of Western oil paintings.

He spent most of his next 15 years (1974–1989) sketching, drawing and painting in his tiny Paris residence.

Mr Khan is particularly drawn to Post-Impressionism art, an art movement that had emerged in France between 1886 and 1905.

He identifies most closely with Post-Impressionist artists like Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.

Khan’s Style

He describes his personality as ‘bold, free-spirited, strong and unconstrained’, just like his paintings.

Khan’s solo art exhibition, ‘Rivières’, is a series of Post-Impressionist paintings depicting both the Singapore River and the River Seine in Paris.

The 47 exhibited oil paintings are combinations of everyday scenes, human subjects and landscapes of Singapore and Paris. They exemplify the freewheeling spirit of Post-Impressionist art, incorporated into Mr Khan’s art philosophy, personal perceptions and painting techniques.

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His works include everyday scenes, human subjects and landscapes. All three of these elements have been integrated in the above painting, ‘Trishaws in Penang’. (Epoch Times)

“I did not paint realistically. But it was my impression, conveying my thoughts and feelings. My technique is the culmination of many years of painting experience,” he reveals.

“The implications of colours and brush-stroke thickness varies between artists. These factors contribute to the artist’s distinctiveness,” he adds.

Like any artist of the Post-Impressionism movement, his emphasis is on colours and brush strokes.

His paintings are a mix of choppy brushwork with thick dabs and blobs of paint. His subjects are usually painted in feathery splashes of bright and intense colours.

According to Khan, art is an inner reflection of a person’s thinking, experience and feelings, just like writing an essay. In addition, a person’s character can influence his work.

Khan describes his personality as ‘bold, free-spirited, strong and unconstrained’, just like his paintings.

Khan’s Paintings

His paintings are a mix of choppy brushworks with thick dabs and blobs of paint. His subjects are usually painted in feathery splashes of bright and intense colours.

2nd-Generation-Artist-Khan-Siong-Ann-Holds-Rivières-Art-Exhibition
Thick layers of paint were used to create ‘City Hall, Paris’. (Epoch Times)

His painting, ‘City Hall, Paris’, depicts the Hôtel de Ville, which is the headquarters of the municipality of Paris.

Thick layers of paint were used to create this ‘impression’. The black ‘government house’ in the background was illustrated in such a way as to draw attention to the outstanding ‘black roof’ juxtaposed with the ‘white building’.

The ‘white’ is comprised of different dabs and blobs of colours—a bit of red and green hidden in the shade of white—to give it a shimmering effect, he explains.

“It’s unique in this way. And I applied the same method to paint the sky. Many colours are hidden in the shades of grey and blue,” he discloses. “I used thick brush strokes, thus this painting evokes bold, strong, free and unconstrained feelings.”

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‘Merlion Park’ is one of Mr Khan’s favourite oil paintings in the exhibition. (Epoch Times)

Regarding one of his favourite oil paintings in the exhibition, ‘Merlion Park’, he reasons, “I applied brush strokes of various thicknesses. For example, lines are used to delineate the buildings and the trees are comprised of different shades of green. This is my own thinking and style.”

Leaving a Legacy

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Second-generation artist Mr Khan Siong Ann. (Epoch Times)

How can an artist contribute to society, I quiz.

Khan replies, “If an artist’s painting has achieved a superlative standard, he could leave a legacy.”

Not only could this legacy be an asset to the country, but it could also be placed in a museum to be admired and studied by the public.

“The influence could be enormous,” he stresses.

He also believes that art appreciation can enhance the aesthetic value of the person viewing it.

“An artist’s belief and his appreciation of beauty, life and society can be reflected in his works,” he says, “Hence, it will influence society, and the public’s view of beauty.”

According to Khan, when an artist reaches a certain level or standard, he has a desire to covet something greater, and pursue a higher realm in order to produce magnificent works of art.

For example, most artists yearn to paint masterpieces in order to leave a legacy, and to establish a foothold in the art world.

To achieve that, he says, “An artist has to rely on himself and work hard.”

“It depends on how the artist attains his realm through cultivating [his character and skill],” says Khan, whose head of silvery strands is a sign of the wisdom and experience that he’s accumulated over the years.

 

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