Until July 8, the artist BODHI (Ho Chung Kwang) is organizing an exhibition with Gallery 1819 in Singapore as part of its showcase entitled “Sonata Allegro”. Artwork from his Astrochemistry series will be on display and is meant to showcase BODHI’s interests in EDM. Using psychoacoustic methods where different moods and themes of a specific piece of music are represented as visuals, BODHI translates the unique sound waves into cover or visual art.
Ahead, we speak with BODHI to learn more about how he connects his passion for music and creating artwork.
You were born in 2000 in Penang, Malaysia. Tell us about your first steps as an artist?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my work with your readers. I was born in Penang, Georgetown, Malaysia. I was a hyperactive kid growing up, and my parents put me in art class in hopes that I could keep quiet. It didn’t stop me from being hyperactive, but eventually I started to enjoy drawing as a hobby.
Where does your nickname “BODHI” come from?
The word “BODHI” comes from a longer word “Bodhicara”, which means enlightenment in the Pali language. This name was given to me by a Sri Lankan monk whose temple my parents used to visit. And because I was born on the day of Vesak, on the lunar calendar, the monk gave me this nickname. He grew up with my family and my parents started calling me BODHI.
Your large scale paintings combine oil and spray paints with your signature drawings. How would you describe your style?
I usually paint in popular sizes that fit most homes and commercial spaces. For this current series, I used acrylic as a medium. I did a little oil painting when I was studying at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, but it didn’t last long once I was exposed to acrylic. I felt that acrylic suited me better.
I think my works are surreal but different from the post-war surreal art movement. It is a style that mixes one or a few fragmented figurative subjects in an image while adding abstract patterns to evoke a single painting, giving it a surreal feel and look.
To add, I am very influenced and inspired by a few artists. The first would be Chayanin Kwangkaew, a Thai painter, and the second artist would be the French duo, TelmoMiel. Both are surreal artists in their field.
Another thing that influenced me was the idea of flatness. I was influenced by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, not for his colors and his style of graphic art, but mainly because he was one of the pioneers and one of the most prominent artists of the movement super flat art.
What type of art materials do you usually work with?
The art materials I work with are brushes, acrylic paint and canvas. We see more and more contemporary artists and emerging artists mixing different materials and mediums to present interesting works of art to the public. I would say that I am a traditionalist, even if my works are not traditional.
I think to be an artist it is important to have technical skills in addition to creativity, so I admire people who display strong technical skills in their works. For now, I’m a traditionalist because I’m the path of wanting to have good technical skills.
Among your interests are DJing and Beatboxing, how does music deeply influence your art?
I got into music a long time ago before I started doing music engineering and beatboxing. I have a greater appreciation for music now because of the technical difficulties I’ve had, doing all the different DJ and beatbox stuff, but the reason I love music so much and how it influenced my art is that I did not become an artist musician.
For now, I’m becoming a visual artist like a painter, and I can always take what has a big influence on me, like music, and apply it in art, that’s how music appeals to me. influenced.
Besides that, I think the music is very important. It has a significant effect on the emotional side of a person due to its nature. Music doesn’t need lyrics or even context, but it has the ability to pass through the logical part of the brain and influence our psyche.
So, when I look at a work of art, I don’t read its meaning too much. Just like expressionism or impressionism, you don’t have to understand the context and be influenced by the colors and all the emotions the painting can evoke. Much like how music is able to convey similar feelings, the process is unstoppable unless you cover your ears or eyes.
Religion also influences your worldview and your art. Tell us more there?
For now, religion is not part of me as an artist or in any of my works. Perhaps in the distant future I might be influenced to incorporate it into my works, either visually as an aesthetic or contextually. We will not know it !
What emotions do you hope viewers feel when viewing your art?
I would like viewers to experience my own interpretation of the essence of the music and not just the likeness and state of mind that I am in when I create the work.
What was your last project and what is planned for you in 2022?
I am a curator for The Fluxus House and I participate in a few different exhibitions with the aim of raising awareness of BODHI as an artistic brand. These exhibitions are mainly promotional exhibitions to revive me as an artist and exhibition curator.
What can art lovers and collectors expect from you at your current exhibition at Gallery 1819 in Singapore?
Excitement and energy! I am probably the youngest artist of the lot to have this opportunity and present my works at the gallery. A shout out to art lovers and collectors: I hope to bring refreshing new works to your existing collection and support emerging artists like me.
Do you also plan to create your own NFTs?
Not at this stage. I have sold NFT in the past, but would like to establish myself as a BODHI before embarking on a collaboration in the NFT space.
You now live in Singapore, what is your best memory of Penang?
Me visiting the Georgetown Festival! You can attend theater shows, musical performances and many exhibitions and activities related to art. They mostly take place at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Penang, which I fondly remember visiting with my family and friends.
It’s quite different from Singapore Art Week, where there are more performances and free street performances such as dance, theater and music than visual arts.
If you had to name a mentor who inspired you in your life and your journey as an artist, who would it be?
My mentor and artist, Mr. Choy Kim Hong. He taught me in kindergarten, art class and high school. He encouraged me to move from business to arts, and under his tutelage, I continued my studies in art at NAFA. He inspires me greatly to pursue my studies in the arts and to become a full-time artist. Without him, I might not be where I am today, having this opportunity to share my journey with you.
To learn more about BODHI, follow his Instagram: @hochungkwang. Visit the Gallery 1819 website here and be sure to follow the Instagram: @gallery1819singapore.
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