Dick Lee draws on nostalgia

Dick Lee draws on nostalgia

Singapore - Just how many times can Dick Lee reinvent himself? "Countless" may not be nearly enough. The singer-composer-producer-film director-fashion designer has now ventured into visual art, opening his first exhibition of 26 paintings at Galerie Belvedere next month.

But before anyone can say "Jack of all trades and master of one - music", Lee is quick to point out that he had studied fashion in his youth at the Harrow School of Art before making a commitment to pursue music full-time. There, he was constantly sketching people and clothes as part of his continuous visual art trajectory that began with drawing comic books as a child.

Like other hyphenates, Lee dislikes being pigeonholed. He says, "I find happiness in creating art and in expressing myself through art, whether it be in the form of writing songs, conceptualising a National Day Parade or designing clothes... I am an omnivore when it comes to consuming anything cultural and artistic. And I don't draw boundaries between high and low."

How then is that art? From the sample of four images given to The Business Times, they look - at least to this arts writer - conceptually amateurish. While Lee shows a talent for sketching people, the works are overall simple and sentimental - depicting people against backgrounds of floral patterns and the national flag. Lee says:

"The colourful floral prints were inspired by my early memories of my mother who owned a boutique called Midteen. She would take me to textile shops to shop for fabric and I remember being stunned by the bales of multi-hued cloths. It was that memory that led me to using the floral motifs as a background...

"I followed on that idea for the Flag series, which reflect the notion of statehood and national identity set against an eventful period of Singapore's history. The people are in black-and-white... to convey nostalgia."

Despite this being his first foray into visual art, the prices aren't low. A small work (31 by 31cm) is priced at $3,888, while a 75 by 105cm work costs $16,888. To put it in perspective, the works at the ongoing exhibition by Sarah Choo are priced between $2,900 and $8,500.

Choo has just won the Icon de Martell Cordon Blue award and was earlier named Lianhe Zaobao's most promising young artist of the year. Works by other notable contemporary artists like Ruben Pang, Heman Chong and Jason Wee are priced similarly. Perhaps, Lee is counting on the nostalgic factor to sell the works. He says: "They are reflections of my past with my family and friends, as well as my country, from being a British colony to a Malaysian state to Independence."

Dick Lee's exhibition titled Imperfect Memory is on Galerie Belvedere, 140 Hill Street, 01-10, from 24 Oct to 16 Nov. Call on 64231233 for details.


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