2nd Solo Exhibition

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1997 Reality: Seen and Imagined - by Raymond Lau Poo Seng
The Substation Gallery - Singapore
Reality: Seen and Imagined
 Artists customarily advance or develop their practice gradually; yes, there may well be occasions or phases when an artist produces a work or a body of works stimulated by intense bursts of creative energy or inspiration. Such occurrences are few and far between. Artists create works methodically; they develop their concepts painstakingly and cultivate their techniques or methods incrementally.
Raymond Lau is no exception to such a characterization. Over the past five years, employing oil and acrylic, he has set out to transform visible reality, those aspects that he selects to see, into images that are distinct and provoking. Initially his interest has been directed to street-scenes, featuring fragments of facades of buildings. Windows and doorways at times opened and at other times shut, point on habitation past and present. These can easily be viewed as evoking pangs of nostalgia, history rendered in sentimental terms; they can also be viewed as registering traces of memory and in this sense signal the fragility of the past.
Raymond Lau has also attempted to look at himself by means of self-portraits, dealing with varying physical and psychological situations. Probing into the self and presenting images crystallizing such reflections for public viewing or scrutiny is not easy or comfortable. Yet is is undertaken as a method of constructing and determining a sense of identity. Here is an area of interest that has also sustained his interest and effort. Although modest in volume, the handful of pictures on display nevertheless point to an appreciable range of projections of the self-from the confessional and forthright to situations of pronounced introspection and interiorization.
Most recently Raymond Lau has turned his attention to the potency of monetary symbols. He selects motifs and graphic patterns from denominations of the Singapore currency, amplifies them thereby producing vivid, dynamic images with considerable pictorial and fresh symbolic interest. The denominations and their visual components are stimulating platforms from which Raymond Lau is seeking to construct new ways of composing pictures.
These compositions are ambitious in scale and scope; conceptual and formal properties have not been completely resolved. At times the interest is in maintaining fidelity to the originating model with minor, although consequential, modifications; at other times the attention is directed towards amplifying the field of imagery and suppressing the design elements in the original models. It would be interesting to see if Raymond Lau continues to deal with this arena of interest, and if he dose, how he intends to develop it.
This exhibition brings to the attention of the public Raymond Lau's recent accomplishments along the fronts outlined above; he is poised at a crucial phase of his artistic career. The path ahead is long and arduous.
T.K. Sabapathy
November 1997

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