讓老房子說話的魔術師 The Magician Who Makes Buildings Come Alive

1995年我剛從新加坡回檳工作。五月份的一個早晨 ,上班的第一天即見到了嘉強。當時,他是在一間建築師事務所當實習生,而我上班的事務所和他所服務的事務所則同在一個屋簷下,所以每天上班都有碰面的機會。他很文靜,我也不多話,工作上沒有甚麼交流,因此彼此也沒有甚麼互動,大家見了面只是禮貌地打個招呼。

一直到有一天他拿了他的作品集給我看,我才知道原來他也喜歡畫畫,話題聊開以後才發覺彼此都有共同的對畫畫的熱枕,也都曾積極地參與鍾中美術研究會活動,並且也都曾擔任過主席。這一份認同感和親切感馬上拉近了彼此的距離。

自那時起我們生命中美術的部分就不斷的交集,從95年在Syed Alatas Mansion的聯展開始,到後來共同參與南洋民間文化及檳城水彩畫會的活動,以及和一班朋友辦了個清荷人文空間,從一起外出寫生,到後來一起玩數碼相機,這位當年羞澀的少年如今已是一間設計公司的老闆。

嘉強涉獵的藝術有很多方面,其中最為人津津樂道的即是他的街景速寫。憑著他對建築物的敏感,加上獨特的誇張但不失平衡的構圖,再配以亂中有序的極富情感的線條,筆下的景物都活了起來。尤其是老房子,再怎麼殘破簡陋不起眼的老屋在他筆下總能被注入新生命,然後很驕傲地展示自己。

到過嘉強家居或辦公室的朋友應該不難發現他是非常整齊,有條不紊,端端正正的那一型,這點和他的外型頗吻合。相比之下,他筆下略帶野性的線條就顯得和他的外型不甚搭配了,但或許那才是真正的他吧?

值此第三次個展並推出素描精選集之際,祝願嘉強繼續努力,畫藝更上一層樓。

邱昌仁 • 檳城

In 1995 I returned from Singapore to work in Penang. I met Kiah Kiean on my first day at work sometime in May. He was then an attachment student at an architectural firm. Both the firms we worked with were in the same building. He was modest and reticent. I saw him almost on a daily basis but we did not interact much. A polite greeting was all we exchanged when our paths crossed.

I only found out about his love for art when he showed me his portfolio one day. Once acquainted, I realised we both share a passion for art and we were at different times active in the art society of our alma mater Chung Ling High School. Both of us were president of the art society. These common backgrounds brought us close together.

Since then, we interacted much in art. From the joint exhibition at the Syed Alatas Mansion in Armenian Street in 1995, to being involved in the activities of Nanyang Folk Culture and the Penang Water Colour Society. With some friends we set up the Ching Lotus Humanist Space at China Street. From sketching outdoor together to discovering the fun with digital photography together, the shy reticent young man is now the owner of a graphic design firm.

Kiah Kiean’s accomplishments in art are expansive. Among the many are his streetscape sketches. He has a sensitive perception for buildings. With his exaggerated yet balanced form and his seemingly chaotic yet emotive lines, he brings the streetscape, especially old buildings, he sketches to life. Each modest or even dilapidated old building seems to come alive with vigour, proudly showing off.

You would realise Kiah Kiean’s tidiness if you visit his office or his home, everything is spick and span, very much the image he projects of himself. The wild lines produced by his hand seem incongruous with his character. Perhaps that’s the real Kiah Kiean.

I wish him the very best for his third solo exhibition and the publication of this marvelous collection of his works.

Khoo Cheang Jin • Penang

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