One is literally invited to walk right
into the paining and travel back in time.
(Also called Life in Kreta Ayer, 牛车水生活写照 in the exhibition)
This measures 7.5 by 8.5 feet, it is massive. The same subject matter has been explored before in a number of smaller works. This time, though, it easily occupies the space of an entire wall. The depiction is an assemblage of memories, fragments of what he remembers of this row of shophouses in old Singapore. The size and style make it seem like a mural.
There is a striking intensity in the colours, which is what hits the viewer after the size. The deep cyan blue sky pushes the entire foreground out and one is literally invited to walk right into the painting and travel back in time to old Singapore to stand beside a woman on a stool. Then the real fun begins. There is a parent and child who have just arrived, and if you are really inside the world of the painting, you cannot help but notice the colourful clothes hanging out from the second floor. Wait. Are those…? Yes next to a woman’s red undergarments are two fishes hanging from their tails - salted fish. Suddenly, not only do you see but you can also smell old Singapore.