The Colour of Rain Forests

The Colour of Rain Forests
Recent Paintings by Terence Teo
WYChoy Artist
Colour of Rain Forests Series

The Colour of Rain Forests series of Terence Teo’s recent paintings consists of a selection including large scale paintings measuring 123 x 246 cm is the outcome of a very demanding painting involvernent. The series is characterized by its overpowering intensity involving heavy painting schedules spanning 2 year. However the outcome brought about unexpected rewards. This took the form of innovating several desirable painting techniques which subsequently enhance Teo’s artistic endeavor with promising potentials.
Tradition and Modernity

Conceptually, Teos recent paintings strike a balance between tradition and modernity. While possessing the essential elements of Chinese ink painting — which Teo still embraces
— his recent paintings pulsate with the liberalization and innovative spirit of modern art. The recent works are characterized by an intentional contradiction: the random ink marks in black — the hallmark of Chinese ink painting — are stringently preserved, while, simultaneously, the door is wide open for fresh visual possibilities to stream inward to reach out for modernity. The age-old sensitive rice-paper-so receptive to expressive nuances — is replaced by crisp water-colour paper which could withstand layers of pigments and yet remains fresh and sturdy Meanwhile the traditional practice of audacious brushstrokes-spontaneous, expressive, articulate — is exploited to the full.

Asked why age-old traditional ink techniques are still relevant in his painting. Teo elaborates:
The essential Chinese ink painting techniques have literally gone through centuries of evolution. Through this process the techniques hove been constantly refined and revitalized. Because of this their visual dynamics have been re-charged over and over again. Thus, today a skilful exponent of Chinese ink painting still finds the essential ink techniques relevant to his creative work In my painting I could evoke tantalizing brushwork through the medium of Chinese ink painting with the traditional techniques deploying Chinese ink and colour pigments on ric paper. Presently, the focus of my painting is the modernization of traditional Chinese ink painting by being very liberal with my colours. There is a balance between the characteristics of Chinese tradition and Western inspired modernism.”

Painting Techniques
Professionally trained in graphic design and photography Teo is, not unexpectedly fascinated with and later obsessed with techniques related to the visual arts. Moreover his years of experience in these two disciplines and in Chinese painting ink convince him that the techniques from the diverse visual arts disciplines are interchangeable. The virtues of Chinese calligraphy have long enhanced graphic design; and now, the exponents of fine art are deploying the ever expanding realm of graphic design techniques more and more. In his painting experimentations, Teo has forged exciting innovations. He has refined the techniques. In his large paintings, he can vary the degree of intensity at will. His technical command in the creative process of the work is consistently evident

Teo gives more details on his painting techniques:
1n my painting the element of painting technique has a special place. I literally thrive on it I not only exploit commonly shared painting techniques which artists find use (14 but ,in addition, I innovate new techniques in order to solve my own unique painting problems as my work evolves. Although I work intimately in the Chinese ink painting medium deploying Chinese ink; Chinese ink pigments and calligraphic brushwork on Chinese rice paper I also aspire to achieving the dynamic effects of western painting such as oil painting. An important effect I try to achieve in my painting is the suggestion of light reflection and luminosity. What inspire me in my work is my observations and visual experiences of the environment I seek a personal painting style. I also seek originality.

Visual Effects
To Teo, in his paintings, visual effects is all important, and is very much a striking hallmark in his work And this is never more evident than in his latest series of Rain Forests series. With visual effects Teo is able to conjure up a wide-range of his personal characteristics in visual expression and his inner feelings movement, mood, lyricism, order chaos, impact, fleeting moments. With the element of light-always an important visual component of his painting —Teo could skillfully conjure up the interplay of transparency and opacity highlight and shadow to capture vibrancy gaiety celebration.

Teo elaborates on the visual effects in his recent paintings:
“I want my painting to be a combination of Chinese tradition and today’s modernity’,’. I believe painting effects are vital in a painting. Without the interesting visual effects, the painting will be flat. It will be lifeless. ln my work; I aspire to the passing moments of life — the musical, lyrical, rhythmic movement motion, speed I want my art to reflect the elements of joy, enjoyment, euphoria, elation. I also embrace experimentation which could often lead to innovations. As an example, solving the problems of the edges of the painting can be tricky. Through experimentation, I found a solution of my own I now leave the edges of the painting blank doing this instinctively as a transitional step of the overall work This enhances the pointing with intriguing effect Creating the relevant white areas can uplift a work of art On this, there are plenty of tantalizing examples in the work of the Chinese ink painting masters.

Layering Painting Technique
A prominent hallmark of Teo’s recent Rain Forest paintings is the layering painting technique. It was never initially conceived as a significant factor of the series. Instead the idea was thrown up during the painting process when Teo was wrestling with the daunting integration problem imposed by his large scale works Teo subsequently explored the versatility of the technique, forging several innovative solutions to his works. The most significant of these was Teo’s ability to vary the degree of intensity in his visual expression, giving the work a captivating heightened effect.

On the element of his layering painting technique, Teo expands further:
‘1 came to realize the tremendous potential in the element of layering technique in painting through working on my recent painting series I title Colour of the Rain Forests. Working with unusually large scale paintings I found myself confronting very difficult problems. And it was through resorting to the layering technique innovating new approaches that I solved these problems. Exploiting the colour hues I created dramatic impressionistic effects to suggest the climatic conditions and in turn the changing seasons. With black and white as the base and then successive layers of diverse colours, I created visual solidity and impact which I think is vital. The layering technique also enabled me to combine the elements of tradition with modernism.

W.Y.Choy is a former Curator of for, National Museum Singapore

[heading]Rain Forest Works[/heading]