| Remembrance & A Sense of Loss
| Garden of Eden | The
Search of Beauty | The Artist |
Solo Exhibition |
gleaming with the sheen of years would grace our bedroom; the rarest
flowers, mingling their odours with vague whiffs of amber, the painted
ceilings, the fathomless mirrors, the splendour of the East ...
all of that would speak, in secret, to our souls, in its gentle
language. There, everything is order and beauty, luxury, calm and
pleasure." l'invitation al Voyage, Baudelaire
Capturing the opulence of bygone days
- the Nyonya art of Sylvia Lee Goh
Sylvia Lee Goh embarked
on a journey of discovery of identity and self-worth. It was a long road,
but with a lot of encouragement and moral support.
In the mid-eighties
Sylvia was a member of the Arts and Craft Guild, holding a committee member
position for two years. This Guild was under the umbrella of the American
In 1986, Ahmad Khalid
Yusoff, the president of the Persatuan Perlukis
Malaysia invited Sylvia
to become a member. Today, she is a life-member of this Association.
Sylvia has participated
in twenty-eight exhibitions, two of which were organised by the National
Art Gallery, "Nuance" in Jakarta, Indonesia, and "Contemporary Malaysian
Art" to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Beijing and Bangkok have been other foreign
venues. Taking part in "Salon Malaysia 1991" was a feather in the cap. In
1994, she was thrust into abstract-expressionism when Petronas imposed a
theme, "Energy" on the annual exhibition of the Malaysian Artists Association
(Persatuan Perlukis Malaysia). There was no choice but to accept the challenge,
but with gratifying results. Her attempt shook the artistic community with
questions of direction.
Her first entry into
the Philip Morris Competition earned her an Honorary Mention.
She paints what she
sees, feels and experiences around her, taking special note of meaningful
moments and occasions. Her colours reflect her Asianess, bright and
Nyonya roots run deep
in her ancestry. Her paternal lineage was rooted in Alor Star, Kedah, where
her great grandfather Lee Yoke Cheng was the Private Secretary to Sultan
Ahamd Tajuddin Mukarram Shah (1855-1879). Loo Yet Leong, the maternal great
grandfather was a well known Patriarch in Pagar Tras, in the Straits Settlement
of Penang. The Artist herself, was born in Bukit Mertajam, Province
The paintings are
nostalgic of an era blessed with a culture that revelled in all things beautiful.
The Nyonyas and Babas took great pride in exquisite craftsmanship, in every
aspect of their lives. Their life-style and customs made their existence
meaningful and always full of expectations.
The landscapes are
from expeditions, from the lakes to the hills - personal journeys that have
gloried in the wonders of nature - paintings that could not have been - had
there not been a personal presence, a communion. These are paintings from
the heart - memories, feelings, nostalgia. All have played their role - sometimes
poignantly. Some are not so easily interpreted, but all have meaning.
Viewing a painting
is an exploration and an exercise in introspection.
To-morrow Gone I
1994, 36" x 52", 38KB
1990, 36" x 48", 44KB
Secret Garden Series I
"To the Unseen Gardener"
1994, 36" x 48",
Click on the slides
to view a larger image
T H E S T A R
From an artist's heart by Jonathan Kwok
Although Penang prides itself for its Straits Chinese
heritage, there has been few, if any, art exhibition totally devoted to the
As such, Sylvia Lee Goh's critically acclaimed solo
art exhibition, From The Heart, marks a significant milestone in the
local art scene. Her exhibition, at the State Art Gallery in Dewan Sri Pinang,
showcased 40 paintings created over two decades meticulously captured the
splendour and intricacies of the Nyonya-Baba heritage.
Just as the title suggests, the paintings reflect
her heart's passion for her Peranakan ancestry as well as a deep love for
nature and life itself. A Penang Nyonya herself who studied at the
Light Street Convent, Sylvia has a remarkable eye for the things that surrounded
her - her family, friends who touched her life, food of her youth and even
her garden are all lovingly recreated in paint on canvas.
In her paintings Nyonya Altar, Blue Bowl and Koay,
Nyonya Koay (Koay Muih), Teh, Chye Koay and Ang Koo, Rambutans and Nyonya
Tray, Sylvia successfully captures on canvas the very things most of
us would consider mundane.
Her generous use of vibrant colours and intricate
attention to details focuses us to take a second look at these "everyday"
Paintings of women also take centre stage in her works
such as the solitary Nyonya and women in private communication, whispering
to one another and one would soon notice an absence of men in her works.
Her subjects, often caught in a unique gesture and
expression, exude a certain lifelikeness and aura of a bygone era.
Then, there are her landscapes, masterpieces done
in Genting Highlands and Lake Cini and even the beauty of her garden ...
a place described by some as "paradise itself".