A Tribute to Ho Ho Ying
Meditations inspired by
the abstract expressionist works
Clemenceau Avenue crosses the river.
I walk beside brushed steel bars,
their curves and edges reflect
the morning's lightness.
Zigzagging towards Fort Canning Park,
my shadow breaks all rigid lines.
Intention and indifference tango.
Facts refract, time plips along,
place names strike a chime or gong.
On this bright day, new patterns emerge.
The crosshatched city, a wall of blood,
past rulers made of hammered gold.
Children splash through trays of paint,
blue, black, and red,
then skip across a paper floor,
their footprints telling a collective story.
Out of chaos, order.
Fear and pride, the potential for flight —
all three can be brought together,
in brushstrokes and calligraphy.
How brightness and colour play on the river,
how they change with ripples,
with the arc of a day, a night —
The challenge of catching such moments,
to evoke that movement of light
brings endless pleasure. Take,
for instance, this night river, an empire
wholly given to pursuit of liquid gold.
See those lengths cut by lamp stands
twirl into linked chains, spanning the dark ooze.
Lines and drips, long brush strokes,
a burst of light on a blue background.
All history is brutal. Freedom,
that sense of serendipity,
comes of skill, control, fabrication.
Raffles Hotel is a ghostly blur,
Winston Churchill a crumpled wrapper,
the occupation a dark red splatter,
Lee Kuan Yew kinetic art,
a flock of parakeets, a scatter of sticks.
After viewing these paintings,
a unique order is salient.
Not surreal Singapore —
Chinatown, enormous trees,
tourists shuffling at Clark Quay.
a ship in the sky. Rather,
quiet patterns and shapes —
lamp posts on an overpass,
a helix of apartment blocks,
the indolent wake of a barge.
The rain comes, the alley fills with steam.
Where do birds shelter in a storm?
We talk with neighbours who we barely see.
Everyone's paranoid, sleep-deprived.
We eat at Dong Bei Ren Jia, visit
the Da Wei Art Store. It's not like the old days.
We walk through the studio — the sketches,
the cartoons, the photos, the paintings,
the small gods, the stars, the crescent moon.
We take tea then take flight, laughing once more.
By Michael MintromQLRS Vol. 18. No. 4 Oct 2019