Journey to the West
Raymond Lau is an emerging artist in Singapore. It is true that
his artistic practice is youthful and recent. Yet it has been eventful and fraught with difficulties. Nevertheless, he has
persisted with his ideals and has, over the past five years, produced pictures, which symbolize hard-fought struggles. He is displaying compositions, which project a range of imagery and a variety
of formal approaches.
The principal interest is with his environment. By the large this leads to the creation of pictures featuring aspects
of the urban landscape. Raymond Lau casts his eye on changes wrought in his environment as old settlements are replaced with
new ones. In the process, patterns of living are disrupted; and these invariably leave scars on memory. Such effects prompt
him to look at the changing present and its consequences on the past.
His compositions featuring interiors, facades and streets are tinged with atmospheric colours, which are glowing, resonating
and yet strike the eye as being fragmentary and fragile. On the one hand, these images convey life and vitality; on the other hand they hint at habitats
that are transient and vulnerable. Attributes such as these impress upon us the unforeseen outcome of change, especially when
it is undertaken with little or no regard for ways of living that are deeply rooted in specific places and environments. In
Raymond Lau's pictures, the fragments of buildings and the street scenes are stamped with human presence and intervention.
He has also produced images of the self periodically. In them he scrutinizes himself; the outcome
is not flattering but unsparingly truthful. There are confessional statements and declarations. Of course in presenting aspects
of the self to the public in such a forthright manner, Raymond Lau is also rendering himself vulnerable. How will such images
be received? What are the consequences of giving the self in public? Of course these are not new questions. However they are
very relevant today as increasingly matters related to identity are certain and unstable.
In his recent endeavours, Raymond Lau has turned to symbols of monetary wealth and power. He
has employed schemes derived from currency denominations in Singapore. When these pictures were publicized, adverse reactions were received from the
currency board authorities. These compositions were initially viewed as contravening laws protecting currency from being duplicated
or counterfeited. Explanations were painstakingly offered on the grounds that these were art works, which utilized aspects of design derived from currency notes in order to satisfy pictorial
or aesthetic intentions.
The pictures in this exhibition are compelling; they are by no means perfect in terms of their
formal realization. Yet, in viewing
them we reflect upon the worlds we have constructed and discarded or neglected. In viewing them we are reminded of the importance
of artists who create images leading to deep understanding of ourselves and of our environments. Through his art, Raymond
Lau reveals worlds in which human beings retain a delicate relationship with their environments.