One or two years into my new job at a large Singaporean organisation, I found out that my senior from high school had been appointed to shadow a prominent minister. Over lunch, I asked him what he had learnt.
My cousin in Shanghai was two years old when his mother, an architect, was taken away by the Red Guards, a student-led paramilitary movement, during the Cultural Revolution. All he remembers is his mother suddenly disappearing; his father, a doctor, had also gone missing days earlier. For what felt like an eternal darkness, he and his elder brother, who would have been five or six around that time, were left alone in their flat. He doesn’t remember how they survived those days. Maybe neighbours came by and brought food. Maybe an extended relative checked in on them. After what felt like forever, his mother returned, but she was a completely different woman.
My first memories of Tiananmen were formed in London: I was six, it was June, 1989, we were in a small hotel room, and it was my first family vacation. My father was in London for work, we had tagged along. I climbed a tree for the first time at a family friend’s orchard; I was so shocked to discover apples and oranges grew on trees. Then: one morning, my father watching the news. His face, creased with worry. I crawled out of bed and peeked at the television:
People. There were so many people on the screen they filled it completely. Flags, banners, people shouting, people angry. My father, his face creased with worry.
Art to me is personal expression. Just like writing is the commitment of a thought onto paper; painting, sketching, or photography even is the physical realisation of an idea the artist has conceived in the mind. Art is beauty. It transforms and elevates the prosaic into something more desirable. In the hands of a talented artist, a commonplace, mundane scene is often rendered more vibrant, more enigmatic, more whole. But my friend Joshua recently expressed another opinion.
“Art is attention-seeking.”
I thought I was going to continue yesterday’s post about writing, but my mind took a detour and ended up in China’s southwest frontier, where horses roam the wild plains, staggering peaks tower into the sky, and dreamy mists rise from ancient lakes …