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.
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.
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
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