I walked into the lobby of the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore for a lunch with a colleague. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see two individuals setting up a small art exhibit. Given that I had a few minutes to spare, I wandered over to take a look.
Pictures were being arranged in an alcove next for a charity fundraiser. Each artist rendition was a playful interpretation of a classic with a Singaporean twist. Sir Raffles (the man given credit for discovering Singapore) was portrayed in two Andy Warhol inspired paintings. Tiger Moms were depicted as a SAF unit on parade before Singapore’s current Minister of Defense. Another satirical painting commented on the $100 charge for Singaporean entrance to the casinos with $100 bills painted on the side of the Marina Sands hotel (a new icon).
As I talked with the curator, he said, “I am not sure many Singaporean will see and understand the humor in the paintings.”
Perhaps he is right. As I reflected on the echo of his words, I realized that symbols and images have a power that extends well beyond the initial viewing. A writer noted generations ago there “there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission?” (1 Corinthians 11.13, 14) In every generation, in each day symbols convey a message that we cannot ignore.
Art is never limited to the obvious. Art is, from my experience, an expression by one that is given to others as a gift. An artist does what s/he does because of the drive within to express. It can take the form of a painting, sculpture, performance, or in words. From my experience, others have shared their art through their lives. While the form varies, it is a gift that generates an emotional response from deep within. In some cases I learn. In others I find myself looking at life differently. Whatever the reaction, the art of our lives is a gift.