Interview: Gloria Keh
Luca Curci talks with Gloria Keh during LONDON CONTEMPORARY International Art Fair at THE LINE 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.
Luca Curci – Which subject are you wotking on?
Gloria Keh – Work started in the first week October on a new book on mandala art incorporating the ancient Chinese 100 Blessings. The aim is to create 100 mandalas on this theme and include the individual script of each blessing in each mandala.This is a big challenge for me. To create 100 mandalas and in 100 days is already pretty demanding. But I have taken this one step further and am hoping to have all 100 under one theme. The Chinese 100 Blessings feature the character FU written in 100 different styles. These scripts are ancient and although written in 100 different ways, mean the same thing, i.e. good luck, good fortune, good tidings. The FU character is very auspicious
to us Chinese. I find these Blessings scripts very fascinating. Moreover, my maiden name, that is my late father’s family name is also Fu. So in a way this honours my father and his ancestors. And my father was an artist too. As the year draws to an end, I decided it was also time for this mandala project in thanksgiving for my many blessings.
LC – What are you currently working on?
GK – Besides the 100 mandalas that I create on a table top in my study, I thrive on painting larger works, in my backyard home studio. Am working on my The Return of The Waves Series but this time focusing on more textured works. I love working with molding paste and other mediums. And of course, collage.
LC – What is your creative process like?
GK – I very rarely sketch before I address the actual painting. But I work on my art journal daily and ponder upon any new idea for a certain period of time. Leading up to the actual painting on canvas time, several artworks are made in my art journals. These entries kind of pave the way towards the manifestation of the actual work. I paint purely by intuition, so it is always more a matter of heart than of mind. I definitely must have silence leading up to the actual painting time. The process is experienced in solitude. And I believe in ritual: hence I anoint the blank canvas with sprinklings of paint, like one would do with holy water in a catholic church. I do this because I honour the canvas and the paints. The painting is all there, just waiting to be drawn out of the canvas. I give thanks for the privilege to behold a new creation that shamefully, I put my name to.
LC – Are your artworks focused os a specific theme?
GK – Most of the time, yes, I have a theme, for example, I always paint lotuses, waves, trees, mountains, and nude pregnant women. But I abide by my intuition. For example, news yesterday, 10th October warned of a huge typhoon that will hit the Tokyo area this weekend. So yesterday, I painted Typhoon in ink on 638 gsm watercolour paper. Sized 22 inches x 30 inches. And posted this in Facebook for the safety of my Japanese artist friends. I often am compelled to respond to happenings by making art. Not for sale, but as an offering. My artworks are my painted prayers.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
GK – In a way, more competitive than before. High costs of rentals pose problems. But thankfully I paint 100% for charity. So if my works sell, the charity of the buyer’s choice benefits. Of course, I would like to sell more art and support more charities. However, if it is not meant to be, I must accept. My reason for painting is to fulfil my soul’s purpose. If the art does not sell, then the charity just does not get the money. I do the best I can, but the rest is not in my hands.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
GK – I participated in London Contemporary. Have never exhibited in London, so it was very exciting for me to be able to send my work there. My work is in a very contemporary vein, so I felt it suited the theme of your exhibition in London. I think contemporary art is well placed for a showing in London.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival theme?
GK – The painting I exhibited was a collage with mixed media titled Once Upon an August Nite. I believe the work is in line with the gallery space and the exhibition theme. London is a very exciting cosmopolitan city. My exhibited work is contemporary, so it suits the theme. I particularly selected this work as it has texture as well as a collage of Chinese text. Just felt it would appeal to Londoners.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
GK – I am very satisfied with the services provided. Your staff are helpful and kind.
LC – What is your idea about Itsliquid Group?
GK – I have been exhibiting with your group for three years. I feel it is a very professional art group catering to international artists.
LC – What do you think of Itsliquid Group platform?
GK – No complaints. Very happy to be associated with your group. Thank you for all your support.