Thursday 4 July 2024

Art serves as a valuable metaphor for life when applied wisely


Epic Poem of Malaya, 1955, Chua Mia Tee

"The painter assumes the role of scriptwriter, director, and actor to freely shape the subject's image." — Chua Mia Tee

During a visit to the Singapore National Gallery, I came across the work of Chua Mia Tee, a renowned Singaporean painter. In a video montage there, he discusses the differences between painting and photography. He explains that photography captures the scene as it is, whereas painting emphasizes themes chosen by the artist, making it selective in nature. Not all elements present in a scene necessarily appear in the painting. In fact, a good painting often includes special elements to elevate the scene and tell a story.

This process of emphasis distinguishes painting from photography. However, I believe that even in photography, the selection of the scene and what to include in the frame involves a form of emphasis, similar to painting. Ultimately, both are art forms, and art serves as a valuable metaphor for life when applied wisely.

In life, we can choose when to be a photographer, staying true to the scene, and when to be a painter, highlighting the positive elements we want to emphasize. A good life involves doing both.

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