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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Life's a swirl

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HE is a constant figure by the river. Everyday, this lone soul is seen strolling the entire stretch of that great serpent and back again.

The seasons may come and go, the trees may shed their leaves, snow may envelop the landscape and flowers may burst forth like the stars of the heavens. But he continues to amble by.

And like the philosopher that he is, the world, and its passages, take a different form in his mind.

Colours, varied and bright, seemingly erratic begin to unfold like flowers. A picture, which only he knows of its intricacies and sublimity, emerges.

Prominent artist Soh Boon Kiong's The Reveries Of Mukogawa exhibition is, simply put, a celebration of colours, a psychedelic swirl of nature. This solo show, now on at Wisma R & D, Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, follows an eventful month for Soh, 48, who also has his past works featured at the Prudential Malaysian Eye exhibition in Kuala Lumpur till April 30.

For The Reveries Of Mukogawa, Soh channels his poetry on canvas in 12 paintings, influenced by that great river in Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan and the four seasons.

Universiti Malaya's artist-in-residence Soh Boon Kiong new exhibition features 12 abstract artworks influenced by that great river in Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan and the four seasons.

Universiti Malaya's artist-in-residence Soh Boon Kiong's new exhibition features 12 abstract artworks influenced by the Mukogawa river in Japan and the four seasons.

Having resided in Japan with his family since 1998 and working from a studio overlooking the Mukogawa river, the Japanese natural landscape became like a close friend to Soh.

"Mukogawa is a very meaningful place for me because it's where I have my rests. It's also a place for inspiration. Sometimes, I even take two rounds of walks between intervals of painting. This is my ritual, of sorts, when I'm back in Japan," said Soh, who has been Universiti Malaya's artist-in-residence for more than three years now.

"This programme has given me the chance to keep improving my skills as an artist. Just like in (martial arts) kung fu, you need to keep practicing as an artist and I was able to do that. It helped me to grow," he added.

What's fascinating about Soh's abstract artworks is that though they seem to be a random splash of pastel colours, there's more to the stories behind them. These 12 paintings, as the Kuantan, Pahang-born artist/academic says, will naturally appear easy on the eyes of the observer. But there is an echoing pattern that is present, though not so easily recognisable.

"Though the artworks are abstract, there are still very real. They refer to the real world. You can't create something out of nothing," explained Soh.

He went on to say that though the paintings may look spontaneous, they were, in reality, carefully studied works.

"There are squares and circles in the paintings. But they are hidden. A painting can be rich in detail and it can still look tidy."

Soh mentions a certain "musicality" resonanting through his work, which has been inspired by French Impressionist painters right to Chinese "San-sui" (landscape) masters and Chinese calligraphers. His past shows in Kuala Lumpur (both in 2010) – La Poesie de l'Eau (The Poetry of Water) and The Lyrical Flow already reflected a poetic, musical and nature-inspired aesthetic.

Upon browsing Soh's new works in The Reveries Of Mukogawa, his piece Floral Symphony would appear to be a plethora of colours and patterns at a glance. But visually, there is nothing erratic about it. Nothing seems random or even busy. There is a certain calmness in this piece as you move your gaze from left to right and an soulful equilibrium is achieved. And then, slowly, a rhythm emerges, a composition of visual notes which transports the artwork to a different realm.

In this gallery space, all you need to do is enjoy the symphony.

n Soh Boon Kiong's The Reveries Of Mukogawa is on at Penthouse, Level 22, Wisma R & D, Pantai Baru, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur till April 30. Mondays to Saturdays, 11am to 5 pm. Open to public. For more info, call 03- 2246 3552 or email Browse: www.sohboonkiong.

Andy Warhol's computer art rescued from 1985 floppy disks

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 01:50 AM PDT

Digital work made by pop artist Andy Warhol, lost for almost three decades, was recovered from ageing floppy disks by forensic computer experts from Carnegie Mellon University.

A dozen newly discovered images were unearthed from the 1985 computer disks by the university's computer club. They depict common Warhol subjects including Campbell's Soup cans, self portraits, bananas and Marilyn Monroe, as well as doodles and camera shots of a desktop.

Carnegie Mellon art professor Golan Levin said on April 24 that the work was recovered thanks in part to someone posting on YouTube a 1985 infomercial showing Warhol using an Amiga computer to create a digital portrait of singer Debbie Harry.

A Warhol fan, artist Cory Arcangel, saw the YouTube video and in 2011 began investigating whether there was more computer art from Warhol to be found.

His inquiry brought him to The Andy Warhol Museum's archives in Pittsburgh, where he found a cache of floppy disks that remained unlabelled because the museum lacked the outdated technology needed to read them.

Arcangel helped link the museum with the computer club at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, one of the top US technology schools. After some digital sleuthing, the club used a process called retro computing to reveal the images in a matter of hours.

"The purely digital images, 'trapped' for nearly 30 years on Amiga floppy disks stored in the archives collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, were discovered and extracted by members of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club," the university said in a statement on its website.

Venus, 1985 by Andy Warhol, retrieved from disk 1998.3.2129.3.22 

Andy2, 1985 by Andy Warhol, retrieved from disk 1998.3.2129.3.4

Campbells, 1985 by Andy Warhol, retrieved from disk 1998.3.2129.3.22

Although commissioned by Commodore International to promote its 1985 Amiga 1000 computer, the newly uncovered art is legally owned by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

"What's amazing is that by looking at these images, we can see how quickly Warhol seemed to intuit the essence of what it meant to express oneself in what then was a brand-new medium: the digital," Arcangel said in a statement.

The work adds a new appreciation for Warhol's use of technology, showing that his interests went far beyond the films and screen prints for which he is most famous. Warhol died in 1987 at age 58. – Reuters


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