“The world we live in is beautiful and the life we have is hopeful”, is what Singaporean artist Lee Kow Fong, better known as Ah Guo, firmly believes.
For the uninitiated, the 51-year-old Singaporean artist’s watercolour pieces invoke a sense of childlike wonder with its dreamy landscapes and cute characteristics.
They actually remind us of the animated fantasy film, Spirited Away, which is one of the most well-known works of Japanese creator, Hayao Miyazaki.
It comes as no surprise then, to learn that the former educator turned professional artist is a fan of Miyazaki’s works.
When asked what inspires him most, his answer is a simple, “anything and anywhere”.
“My inspiration comes mainly from everyday life or even memories of childhood times,” Ah Guo added of his illustrations and watercolour paintings which often depict scenes around Singapore.
After all, he shared, “Nothing is more hopeful than being a happy child, nothing is more beautiful than to always have a dream in life.”
And with shopping as one of the favourite activities of Singaporeans, one childhood recollection for many is probably a weekend trip to explore the newest mall in town with family or even friends.
And it’s a memory that has been brought to life with Ah Guo’s latest artwork, in the form of a 12m by 5m mixed-medium mural installation which will be featured at Orchard Central.
Wonderland of malls
Commissioned by Far East Organization as part of its National Day campaign, Ah Guo shared that the brief for the piece was to feature all 17 of its malls — a pretty tall order if you ask us.
With his self-professed love for seeing Singapore from a “child-like or dream-like” perspective, Ah Guo envisioned the installation to be a “wonderland” of malls, and of course, it had to be imbued with his signature touch of whimsy.
“The first thing that came to my mind was to set the painting in a sort of wonderland, where all the buildings become small toy houses with the kids having a fun time enjoying themselves,” he shared.
Other than the human characters and structural elements, look closer and you’d find animal depictions too, with Ah Guo making sure to include Singaporeans’ well-loved giant pandas and otters.
While the piece isn’t the largest that Ah Guo has done, he shared that it is “definitely the most complicated”, due to the fact that it has to be planned out in detail and painted — layer by layer — before being digitally scanned and put together.
“The final presentation would be more like a pop-up installation, which will be very different to my previous pieces which are just 2D wall art,” said Ah Guo.
He faced a huge challenge as well in thinking of the best way to “piece the buildings together to achieve an overall organic look”, while still capturing the detail of each building.
The last thing he wanted was for the final output to appear “too congested”.
Did he achieve his goal? One would have to see it to be the judge. And of course, snap a photo against the one-of-a-kind backdrop while you’re at it.
Deals and giveaways to celebrate Singapore’s 57th birthday
For Ah Guo, the desire to fill others with joy and a sense of hope is what motivates him in his career as an artist which has spanned more than a decade.
“[What drives me is] the happiness others get while enjoying my artwork. Art, like happiness, is to be shared.”
And from now till Aug. 21, shoppers can not only view Ah Guo’s one-of-a-kind installation, but also take home a piece of ‘happiness’.
Simply spend a minimum of S$100 at Orchard Central, Clarke Quay Central, Square 2 or West Coast Plaza to redeem two enamel pins and a tote bag, which would certainly come in handy for your next shopping trip.
Decorate the bag – which features Ah Guo’s ‘wonderland of malls’ – with your favourite animal character pins, and collect all four pins for the full set.
What’s more, shoppers who drop in to any Far East Malls will get to enjoy great savings and special $5.70 and $57 deals with shopFarEast App during the period, such as a Burberry Body Eau De Parfum (60ml) for S$57 (U.P. S$140) at St Thomas @ Surprisesss, located in Lucky Chinatown, or a 30-minute foot reflexology and 30-minute shoulder massage session for the same price (U.P. S$76) at Genkinoya located in Pacific Plaza.
Diners can savour a two-person Wagyu Beef Don Set for S$57++ at Hidemasa by Hide Yamamoto at Sentosa, or tuck into TungLok Seafood’s Signature Chilli Crab for S$57++ (U.P. S$78.40++) per crab, only at Orchard Central.
If you’re not already a member of shopFarEast App, Far East Malls’ rewards programme, key in the exclusive promo code NDP22MS when you sign up to receive a $10 Far East Malls e-Voucher, limited redemptions only!
Giveaway: Be the first three shoppers to flash this article to Orchard Central Concierge at Level 1 in order to receive an exclusive illustrated tote bag as well as the full set of four enamel pins, all designed by Ah Guo.
For more info, visit Far East Malls’ website.
This is a sponsored article by the Far East Organization.