Interview: Gloria Keh | ITSLIQUID

Interview: Gloria Keh

Interviews | March 25, 2019 |

Interview: Gloria KehImage courtesy of Gloria Keh

Interview: Gloria Keh
Luca Curci talks with Gloria Keh during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2019 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.

Gloria Keh began painting as a child. Initially to supplement her pocket money, but now by the grace of God, she paints only for charity, with 100% of sales from her paintings being donated to charities of her buyers’ choice. Gloria believes in service to humanity. That we have taken so much from Mother Earth, and it is time we give back. Hence, she founded Circles of Love in 2008, a charity outreach programne, using her art to fundraise to support the needy. At 67, Gloria has showcased her works in 50 exhibitions both in her home country, Singapore, as well as internationally. She is the receipient of 9 international art awards.
Art is my life. My religion. My painted prayers,” said Gloria.

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Interview: Gloria KehImage courtesy of Gloria Keh

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Luca Curci – Which subject are you working on?
Gloria Keh – A new series of black and white works on large canvases – abstracts with a graphic slant. As I love working on books, am currently working on a series of mandalas on paper on Chakras, the energy centers of the body.

LC – What’s your background?What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
GK – I began painting as a child, as my late father, Martin Fu, was an oil painter. I sold my little artworks as a child mainly to artists who worked in an advertising agency. They bought my works to support me, encourage me to continue to paint, and some said that they liked the way I used colors and got some ideas from my works. Guess as a child, I just painted with wild abandon. With great freedom. Without editing and being concerned if a curator was going to like my work or not. But as an adult, I had to earn a living as a journalist, and only in my 40s, more than 20 years ago, did I devote myself fulltime to art. The experience that most influenced my passion for art and convinced me this was my path, was a mandala experience in a mandala class held in the Theosophical Society in Melbourne, Australia. The date was September 11th, 1997, and I was drawing a mandala that expressed my fears. I made a very colorful mandala mainly of orange and yellow with an explosion of bright colors radiating from the centre. The teacher reminded us to date our mandala, and I could not understand why symbolically, my fears were so bright in colors. Especially when others painted dark colored mandalas. Years later, after that infamous 9/11 when tragedy rocked New York city and changed our world, hence giving rise to the age of terrorism, I could finally understand my mandala of 9/11 in 1997. This made me respect the power of the mandala, and until the day I die, I will continue to make mandalas. This is my spiritual practice that I believe influences all my other works, especially my abstracts. Because of this incident, I learnt to trust my intuition above everything else, and hence I paint purely by intuition.

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
GK – Mainly from Mother Nature, from music and poetry. And very often am inspired by the most insignificant of things, like a reflection on a small puddle of water, or an interesting shape of a stone. Also, the more I paint, the more I draw, the more I am fired to paint something else. It is as if each artwork is a springboard to another. To me, that’s a very personal form of inspiration, coming from my Higher Self.

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Interview: Gloria KehImage courtesy of Gloria Keh

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LC – Did your style change over the years?
GK – I do not believe in painting in just one style. There are days I enjoy and need to just make art for my own personal pleasure. And daily I keep an art journal. In fact I keep more than one art journal, of varying sizes, and depending on my moods, I paint in some of them, or in all of them. Maintaining an art journal is an essential need for me – to paint, and share, and NOT sell. To engage in art for the sheer joy of it, and not for commercial reasons. And there are no doubt many days when I just have to express on large canvases. Yes, my style has changed through the passage of time. As a child I painted with great freedom…then for a while, I painted what was commercially viable. But now I paint what I want, when I want, and am less controlled. My style of art has come a full circle. I believe in freedom and don’t follow manmade rules. I believe art is all about freedom. My sole and soul purpose is to paint. And to quote Saint Francis Xavier: “What doth it profit a man, if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul.”

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?
GK – My physical limitations that have come about with medical and ageing issues. The lack of physical strength. That I am unable to work for the long stretches of hours that I could before. This is very frustrating at times. Now physiotherapy dictates that I change my bodily positions every hour or so, and I just find this extremely difficult when I am in the “zone”. So I persist and pay dearly the price of physical pain in ‘pain-ting’.

LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production.Has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as part of pre existing works?
GK – I have an ongoing Mother/Woman series because I love the female form. Woo-man that was exhibited at the festival was painted for my husband, and it hangs in his office. I had never promoted/exhibited it before, but felt it was appropriate for your theme The Body Language. Hence, decided to send it on a nice holiday to Venice. Lucky painting.

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Interview: Gloria KehImage courtesy of Gloria Keh

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LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
GK – The title Woo-man is a play of the words to woo man. Without saying a word, the painting woos. And it woos not just men but women as well. The woman in the work is faceless. She does not speak, nor see, nor hear, nor smell, but uses the language of her body to allure, captivate and stir the imagination. The woman has long flowing hair, and this symbolises a very strong etheric and energy body that’s essential for body language.

LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
GK – Yes, most definitely so. That an artist can share the beauty and message of his or her work on an international platform. Art is a form of beauty, and beauty, which is also a form of healing, must always be shared.

LC – What are the suggestions about our services? Is there something more can provide to artists?
GK – I am very happy with the high level of services provided by your group. My only setback is the high courier costs in sending the works to Italy, and then bringing the works back to Singapore, but that’s an issue not within your group’s control. Perhaps a digital art exhibition on a big screen for foreign artists living outside of Europe might be an added attraction at your events? For artists like me, living in faraway Singapore, and who do not attend the events, it would be great to have more photos of our art at your shows. I know you do post general photos taken at your event but perhaps some more personalised photos of members of your staff with our exhibited works would be super.

LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID platform?
GK – Personally, I have no complaints and that’s why I have been participating in your shows for the past few years. I appreciate the professionalism of the group and am grateful for the support and help of your patient and kind staff. Am certainly looking forward to a long working relationship with your esteemed group.

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Interview: Gloria KehImage courtesy of Gloria Keh

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