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Along the River, there is Life

Relaxation of Body and Mind

Along the River, there is Life

A smorgasbord of emotions!

Jim Messenger

There is a major exhibition on right now at the CMU Art Gallery that will knock your socks off, if you let it. Entitled: “Chang Fee Ming - Mekong” it has 200 works, 40 large watercolors and over 100 hundred sketches, documenting life along the banks of that great river.

The living eyes of the child tell all there is to know.

Over the course of hundreds of years much has been written about the Mekong and its wonders. The ‘great white hunters’ of yesteryear thought to map out and tame great chunks of hidden darkness, that were for others their homes and backyards. Yet the mystery of rivers has captivated men since the dawn of time. The sinewy twists and turns reminding one of the beginnings of life itself; the source of all beings.

“Lines of Life, Thailand”

The artist who accomplished this prodigious feat is Chang Fee Ming. He lives in Kuala Lumpur, the son of a goldsmith. His previous works included another monumental endeavour called: “The Road to Mandalay”.

This journey took several years and encompassed thousands of kilometers of travel and tarrying in small communities dotted along the riverside. His dedication and love of the region can be felt in every piece on display. One can only admire his zeal and tenacity.

Spread out over the major part of the museum’s ground floor, the watercolors call out to you as you enter the building. Each one vies for attention. It was a little difficult at first for me to grasp the intensity of focus of the paintings. They are so vibrant.

Thinking of the artist’s 3-month yearly stay in Bali brought light to the situation. That particular island seethes with an liveliness that is not of this world. So really this exhibition is a vision of the Mekong, with a Bali focus - seen through the aura of an intense tropical isle where everything is vibrant and alive. This means intensity and each of the watercolors has to be taken in slowly, bit by bit.

Some of the most moving pieces were the small works, the sketches, and postcards, the predatory works that lead up to larger pieces. These sang out to me as I toured around. Of the major works: “On the Motorcycle”, speaks to me. The living eyes of the child tell all there is to know. Also, “Lines of Life, Thailand” disturbs me so that I must write about it. Lines on a woman’s hands, so many of them crisscrossing.

It’s a smorgasbord of emotions, sometimes happy, sometimes exuberant and sometimes depressing with always in the background the tenuous feeling of something on the brink of monumental change. A good and timely show to see.


Relaxation of Body and Mind

Marion Vogt

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