Monday, February 25, 2008

Pests are his pets

 Article by Salina Khalid
" Cockroach-Ants" Goh Ah Ang Ink on Paper
 To everyone, cockroaches and ants are pests. But to Goh Ah Ang, they are a source of inspiration.

 While most Chinese artists go for the legendary dragon, tiger, lion and horses, Goh opts for the insects.

 The 41-year-old self-taught artist displays his admiration and fascination for them in his latest series of paintings at the exhibition Expression.

 About 40 pieces of his paintings done over a period of 15 years are being exhibited at Balai seni, Menara Maybank, until Aug 12.

 Among the paintings featured at the exhibition-cum-sale are his series of works on Journey of the Ants, Exhortation, Frame, Windows and Cherish.

 Goh said he chose the insects as a subject because of the role they played.

 “They are sensitive, hardworking and co-operative.

 “Yet it is a pity that we overlook the big role they play in our ecological system because of their small size,” he said.

 Goh said the creatures also taught him to be humble; to look down on them instead of looking up to the sky all the time.

 “We are taught to aim high and dream for big things in life that we often forget about the small things that are close to us.

 “We do not care even if we step on them.” he said.

 Goh who paints on white rice paper said that the rough texture of the paper gave the paintings a special effect.

 “I want to show the hardship these creatures go through. But through unity they survive,” he said.

 Goh said the insects reminded him of his own self.

 “I learnt from the ants that it is only with indomitable courage that we can survive the hardship in life and become successful,” he said.

 Goh said although he had a passion for art he could not pursue it because of family commitments.

 “I came from a poor family. My father was a rubber tapper with three children to feed.

 “And having food on the table was more important than buying paints and brushes,” he said.

 He said although his father could not afford to buy the art equipment for him, he did not stop him from pursuing his dream.

 “And my mother was behind me all the time,” he said.

 He said his mother would save some money after buying the grocery to buy paints and paper for him.

 Goh said he did not have any formal education in art.

 “My father could not afford to send me to art college,” he said.

 He said that after finishing form five, he took up a job to help the family.

 “I was lucky to get a job as a graphic artist in a printing company. The job enabled me to develop my passion further,” he said.

 Goh, now a full-time artist and a founder of Top Art Institute of Art and Design in Klang, said most of his works were expressions of certain issues.

 “They are the response to what I read,” he said.

 The exhibitions open daily from 10am-6pm except Sunday and public holiday. Admission is free.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Goh Ah Ang, the ant artist of Malaysia

Article by Redza Piyadasa
Extract from Masterpieces From The National Art Gallery of Malaysia

"Where There Is Life, There Is Hope" by Goh Ah Ang, 1996

Goh Ah Ang is an artist trained in the Chinese mode of painting and he was initially involved with traditional brush painting techniques. In recent years he has become well-known for his delicately rendered ant paintings. Using textured rice paper as a base, his colonies of busy worker ants are minutely and painstakingly rendered, one by one, with the aid of a very fine pen. The tiny ants are spread out on the white base and highlight the empty void of the white paper surface. There is a sense of busy movement and activity as the ants move in different directions across the paper surface. The inherent qualities of traditional Chinese painting values, with its emphasis on technical dexterity and black and white contrast, have lent to Goh’s paintings a contemplative quality. The viewer is inclined to study each minutely rendered ant in the colony. Time is thus stretched out. The title of the work obviously alludes to human hope and it would seem that the ants are being used as a metaphor to draw attention to the human condition and life’s struggles.