"The New Paper", 6 Mar, 2005

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Living His Life Out Loud


   As I step into Raymond Lau's art studio, he offers to show me his "nude pantings". I pictured sensuous drawings - and got ready to bolt in case he should he ask if I wanted to model. Then Raymond took out some acrylic and oil paintings of dolphins.
   Ha-ha, very funny. But a sense of humour is always good in a man. I was amazed by the liveliness of the dolphins portrayed in his paintings.
The softer side of his character came through as he explained his current love of painting dolphins.
   "I was inspired by my former lecturer who encouraged me to paint dolphins are friendly and humble, while being highly intelligent mammals."
   "Yet people catch dolphins to take their fins for cooking sharks' fin soup," he said, then paused as a quizzical look spread across my face.
"Hey, wait, that's sharks. Oh yes, we are talking about dolphins!" I dismissed his absent-mindedness as just a facet of his dreamy artistic genius. But I really enjoyed viewing his collection of art pieces and was amazed at how prolific he was.
   So, has he ever painted portraits of his romantic interests?
   "A former girlfriend accused me of not being romantic and boring. So for one Valentine's day, I bought a plain tie, and painted a picture of us kissing on it," he recalled.
    "I also wrote a love letter for her in manuscript. It took tow days because I wasn't very good at writing, and I even had to get a friend to edit it!" he confessed.
   Romantic gestures aside, Raymond told lme of his deep passion for dance. He is quite an expert at many forms of dance and I can personally attest to his salsa skills.
   He put on some hot salsa music and got me on my feet. As I stopped to catch my breath, I asked Raymond if he had also painted his shirt, since it was bright and floral. He laughed. Not this one.
   However, he has painted shirts for himself before. He likes bright, loud colours as it reflects his happy side.
   He has even painted dolphins on his van to cover a big dent when a taxi bumped into it.
   Raymond confessed that he can get obsessed with things. For instance, when he was younger and was a lion dance instructor, he used to count the beat and rhythm aloud in his sleep - "dong-dong chiang" - such that his neighbours thought that Chinese New Year was approaching.
   Later, when he took up Western dance, his mother told him he had been counting:"One, two, three and four" and saying "pom-cha-cha" in his sleep. I found Raymond's wry humour endearing.
   In his studio, there was a fibreglass replica of a terracotta warrior, on which he had put a 3M mask that had the words "Sars alert. Don't sabo me." He had worn the mask to a club during the period following Sars, when a lot of people had refused to go out even when it had been safe to do so. The other patrons had been amused and he even got a kiss from a girl who found his mask hilarious.

Website about Singapore Artist Raymond Lau