6/25/07

Catmasutra - Once Upon a Kopitiam!

Finished this painting on June 1st. Was tempted to call it "Open Coffee Shop" but thought better of it and decided on "Once upon a Kopitiam" (Kopi is a Malay word for coffee, and tiam for shop in Hokkien). Open Coffee Shop is a very Catmasutra title given the way Halo sits and what we generally understand by the term. But I'm submitting this for the Art Festival so you know... With every submission, you need a writeup which I think is important regardless. It gives you perspective as an artist. Every painting is a reflection of the artist - his world view, aspirations, beliefs, moods, etc. Sometimes, each piece seems to appear on its own free will. For example, I have sketched several pieces already but am at a loss as to which piece to begin painting. It needs the spark, the extra something that calls out to you, "paint me, paint me!"

Kopitiam always fascinates me - not the food court ones, they annoy me - the authentic ones. This painting sets the scene for a lazy afternoon in an old Chinese coffee shop, a remnant from our not-so-faraway past. Once upon a time, they were everywhere and authentic, and I think they represent a slice of who we are. I can still remember the old fashioned white porcelain cup and saucer, with many an uncle pouring and drinking from the saucer. I remember the marble-top tables, the high ceiling fans, and the old man with his abacus at the cashier calling the shots. There’s probably an innocence permeating through these memories, etched as they were on a child's mind.

You remember the good things although I can still recall how irritating it was then to be made errand boy all the time- buying lunch, Toto and 4d (never understood the need for them till now haha when you dream of opening a studio called what else but Catmasutra; I even planned for my designer to be a catmasutra coffee-maker cum waitress cum cat dancer who goes "Meow" and scratches the air with her claws on command) Wahahaha... Not that I was a very obedient kid. As compared to my parents' generation, my brother and I were considered really lazy, but there was always a sense of adventure - not computer games, but playing in the drain when there's a storm, catching spiders, playing soccer in car parks where the referee will call "time-outs" whenever there was a car approaching, or flirting with the ice-kachang girl... Maybe that's what Catmasutra is about. Halo, the cat motif – a cartoon character, almost but not quite – epitomizes this innocence cum devil-may-care bravado, and this deep sense of self-belief and unpretentiousness, that draws the viewer almost unabashedly to smile with it.

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