8/26/13

catmaSutra cat art interview with Paul Koh



@HOME

ISSUE 7
"...blurring the line between reality and myth, between the power of everyday and the power of imagination..."



ENERGIES, CAPTURED

Given the theme of this issue of @HOME, we asked Paul what compels him to create. He eloquently explained: “The world is not all ‘material’; it’s made up of all kinds of energies that come together. As an artist, you have the ability to harness and shape those energies into forms that express whatever you want them to. It’s a liberating and beautiful process. Once you accept it, it becomes a living force that ‘compels’ you to create.”

Paul recalls ‘thinking in pictures’ for as long as he can remember. When he ventured into children’s book publishing, his eyes were opened to the “rich and multi-layered world of illustration and magic”. Inspired and excited, he ventured into illustration, and subsequently into digital design.



WHY CATS?
Painted in acrylics on canvas, the catmaSutra series embodies Paul’s signature style and has attained iconic status in the local arts scene. We couldn’t resist asking – why cats?
 

Paul explained: “I grew up drawing and
I grew up with cats. I guess it was just a
matter of time before these two passions
become intuitively linked. Cats have this
mystical quality that I’m attracted to, and
they do keep me sane when things get too
hectic.”

“CatmaSutra has become a way for me
to create a certain mood and imbue it with
a way of seeing things; it has a touch of
nonchalance with a dash of devil-may-care
bravado, a happy-go-lucky persona based
on a childlike ability to tune into the inner
workings of the world. The ‘eyes-wideshut’
and irrepressible ‘ear-to-ear’ grins of
the cats are representative of this energy,
and the trademark expression points to a

mystical cleverness that is bereft of logic and reason,” elaborated Paul. The fabulous felines of catmaSutra are depicted in a myriad of situations, from riding on motorbikes to cavorting among sunflowers and sitting on Buddha statues.Paul draws his inspiration from “all the stuff that we come into contact with, our surroundings, the media, design, art, everything.”

In Paul’s own words, each of his paintings presents“… a moment in a story that is
personal and yet universal. It becomes a space for me to explore the flow of energy
that vibrates in between, that blurs the line between reality and myth, between
the power of everyday and the power of imagination.”
 

 

 IN EVERYONE, AN ARTIST
Paul encourages everyone to find their inner artist. “I believe there is an artist in everyone. We are all here to create albeit in different ways. As long as you stay true to your path, you will create and develop your own form of artistry.”

Paul also encourages collectors to listen less to what policymakers and critics say, and more to how each piece of art speaks directly to them. “Perceptions of what is ‘valuable’ art are affected by boards and committees who decide on grants and funding, inclusion in national or international art fairs, and which pieces of public art is commissioned. However, a piece of art has value insofar as there are people who are willing to believe in the artists,” said Paul.


HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN YOU
When we asked Paul for some advice for aspiring artists, he generously obliged: “My advice is to have faith and persevere. I doubt that there are many ‘accidental’ artists in Singapore (the pretenders will fall away); one doesn’t happen to be an artist. Artists are all self-made, committed to finding ways to continue working as an artist because, innately, they know this is what keeps them alive. Day job or not, struggling or otherwise, we’re talking about the condition of the soul here.”
 

PAUL’S CAT-ALOGUE
The beauty of Paul’s work is that it is accessible, in more ways than one. He holds an exhibition at Utterly Art in December every year, and also works with a local company, Arts2U, which helps to promote local artists through merchandise such as puzzles, post cards, coasters and so on. His art collectables are carried in most museum shops in Singapore, including the Esplanade Shop, Red Dot Museum, SAM and Banyan Tree Gallery. He also accepts commissions for portraits of cats, dogs, rabbits… anything with fur, from what we can gather!


THE ARTIST’S ARTISTS
Paul’s personal taste in art pretty much reflects his own personal style of art. “I love art that is quirky, intuitive and illustrative to a degree. Contemporary artists such as Liu Ye, Peng Peng, Nara Yoshitomo, Takashi Murakami, Ai Yamaguchi, Audrey
Kawasaki, Amy Sol, Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, James Jean, Yuko Shimizu – as well as the masters such as Seurat, Monet, Magritte, Klimt, Van Gogh, Hokusai… are all inspiring!” he enthused.

Serenading Monet


ART @HOME

Paul encourages every homeowner to invest in art. ”I think that every home should have a piece of art that matches the personality as well as captures the imagination of its owner. Art can transform a house, bringing with it an energy that might otherwise be lacking. It should complement its occupants, and provide a ‘space’ for them to reflect, refresh or simply recharge,” suggested Paul.

Paul’s current home has a loft-like look with concrete floors, several brick walls,and glass partitions. The walls are painted in light grey and graced with many catmaSutra’s  ‘ear-to-ear grin’ paintings. Though Paul describes it as “a happy and quirky place”, he was quick to describe his dream house.


“This question has a vividly etched imagery attached to it (the result of focused daydreaming)… There is a warehouse space, with a stairway leading to the bedroom, which appears to be ‘hanging’ in the air. Below the stairway is a little living area opening to a greenhouse or garden at the back. Next to it is the art and work studio. At the front is the gallery space for catmaSutra’s paintings and merchandise. Behind is the kitchen with a little outdoor area, a playground for the cats, dogs and birds…

Do as Paul does – dream a little dream house for yourself. And be sure to reserve a place on a wall for a special piece of art. A catmaSutra paw-trait could be just purrfect!
(Ouch, sorry about that.)



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