There is a saying in China: "Interacting with good men is like being in a room full of aromatic plants: with passing time, you will not notice the fragrance; mixing with bad men is like entering a shop selling salted fish: with passing time, you will not notice the stench". The original meaning of this saying inferred that once one is immersed in a particular kind of environment, one will be influenced and transformed by it with time. I would now like to reuse this phrase, but only at its literal level: when one is cast into a new environment, one is sensitive to his new place. With time, this acuteness will be blunted, then numbed.
Our nation is one with a multi-racial society, but we can be proud that all can live together harmoniously. This virtue, to us, is just like "not noticing the fragrance with passing time".
However, it is a phenomenon which will cause some surprise to visitors from other lands.
Take the example of the joint exhibition of Ng and Schmid. One is Chinese and one is French: it is already unusual that they are holding a joint exhibition. Furthermore, the French person's medium is Chinese painting; that of the Chinese is western. How can this not cause bewilderment? In truth, we should view this as a natural occurrence.
The realm of art is without boundary. Fine art and culture are easily accepted by all. While some narrow-minded people try to block their transmittance by chauvinistic means, their efforts are usually futile.
In the past, some pretentious artists attempted to mystify art as something extraordinary, thereby distancing art further and further from public and contemporary life. Today, we are happy to see that the participants of this joint exhibition hold pragmatic and steadfast attitudes towards their search [for their art]. Eng Teng is even willing to cast aside the dream of becoming a 'master'. He will venture overseas to London to study sculpture and ceramics, and to hone his talents in the field of industrial arts. Just based on the solid foundation that can be witnessed in this exhibition, we can only imagine how bright and shining his future achievements will be.
I hear that besides practicing Chinese painting, Mdm. Schmid is also experimenting on mosaic compositions. The above mentioned are the art works that are directly public; those which are most needed in our economic and social lives. I wish for their success with all my sincerity, and would like to extend all my best wishes for this exhibition.
Exhibition of Paintings, Sculptures by Katherine A. Schmid-Audeoud and Ng Eng Teng Singapore, 1962, unpaginated.
Translated from Chinese by Lai Chee Kien
Last updated: 11 January 2001