Wayang Kulit No 11 is part of renowned Singapore artist Low Hai Hong's signature Wayang Kulit series.
He shared his views of this distinctive subject matter, which is uniquely his, in an essay that was published in his art book that was printed in conjunction with his "Passion in Living - Paintings of Indonesia" art exhibition held in September 2018 in Singapore.
Thoughts on the Wayang Kulit - a retrospection on the Wayang Kulit series
When I first saw a Wayang Kulit performance in Java, Indonesia, I was enthralled by the magical and enigmatic nature of the shadow puppet show, where shadows formed by light and casted on the puppets told a story.
I held a Wayang Kulit puppet and saw that it had a sharp silhouette and stunning features. However, it was flat and dull in colour - characteristics that I understood where in line with its purpose as a shadow puppet but did not seem sufficiently attractive to me.
I subsequently stumbled upon some Wayang Golek puppets on a roadside stall in Sumatra and was captivated by the rich colours and intricacies of their headdresses and costumes.
However, the physical appearance of the Wayang Golek puppets felt artificial and man-made to me; and that, did not intrinsically appeal to me.
When I started to paint these puppets, I never set out to paint the Wayang Kulit or Wayang Golek per se. In retrospect, I realised that I had unconsciously merged my subconscious notions of what I found attractive about the Wayang Kulit and Wayang Golek puppets respectively.
I wanted to express the mysterious and magical encounter I felt when I first saw the Wayang Kulit. Thus, I adopted the physical features of the Wayang Kulit as a base for my puppet figures and adopted the rich colours of the Wayang Golek.
The colours adopted from the Wayang Golek compensate for the dullness of the Wayang Kulit while the contours adopted from the Wayang Kulit breathe life into the Wayang Golek and imbue it with an air of mysticism.
These Wayang Kulits I painted are neither Wayang Kulits nor Wayang Goleks. Neither are they simply an adaption of the actual Wayang Kulit or Wayang Golek puppets; they can no longer be differentiated or strictly categorised into either genres.
Some of my puppets may look 2D in the painting, but no Wayang Kulit has such colours and details on its headdress and costume. Some of the my puppets may also look 3D in the painting but no Wayang Golek has such liveliness and flair in its actions.
Some paintings may feature both 2D and 3D puppets but the flatness of one puppet could sometimes mean nothing more than to merely highlight and bring out the features of the other puppet.
After much thought, I have decided to title these works "Wayang Kulits", as the essence of these puppets I have created is based on the spirit of the shadow puppet play performance.
I wish to convey and invite my viewers to experience the enchanting moment of witnessing light falling behind a muslin screen while the dalang, or puppet master, brings his shadow puppets to life.
Title: Wayang Kulit No 11
Artist: Low Hai Hong
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 76 x 60 cm
If you wish to see the painting in person or have any questions, feel free to ask us anytime.
Buy Wayang Kulit No 11 because
it lets you imagine.
Everything you can imagine is real. - Pablo Picasso