On March 2, the “Cheah Thien Soong: Emerging Untainted – An Inspiration from the Lotus Sutra” opened at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM (WKSGM). This exhibition was organised by SGM with support from the Oriental Art and Culture Centre and Pin Wei Zhai Art Gallery.
This is a solo exhibition by Dr Cheah Thien Soong, a renowned Malaysian master of ink-painting, which is inspired by the Lotus Sutra, the “king of scriptures” among Buddhist scriptures. Before creating this series of artworks, Dr Cheah conducted research on the Lotus Sutra, which included dialogues with SGM study department members. Profoundly inspired by the scripture’s philosophy of peace and coexistence, he went on to produce 28 ink paintings and 20 pieces of calligraphy for this exhibition.
|Opening performance by Dua Space Dance Theatre||Guests tour exhibition after opening ceremony|
The opening ceremony was held on March 2 as well, with New Era University College (NEUC) Vice-Chancellor Dr Mok Soon Chong as guest-of-honour. In his welcoming SGM General Director Koh Sia Feai remarked that the Lotus Sutra contains profound philosophy that teaches humanity the way to true happiness and peace. He expressed hopes that this exhibition would enable people to know the Lotus Sutra better and help spread the philosophy within.
Dr Cheah took the stage next, stating that the sutra educates and elevates people. He was most impressed by its emphasis on valuing life and humanity and peaceful coexistence, values that are needed for our times. He expressed gratitude for having to study The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, the dialogue between SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Soka Gakkai study department representatives. He also thanked the SGM study department for the learning opportunities provided.
In his speech, Dr Mok spoke on how philosophy is not only expressed through words, but though art as well. He also spoke on the works of Chinese poet Wang Wei, which has a profound impact on people today. He hoped that Dr Cheah’s works would also have a lasting impact on enabling people to study the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra.
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Dr Mok also expressed admiration for SGM’s efforts in promoting culture, education and the arts, saying that SGM is creating important values for society.
When interviewed, Buddhist scholar Prof Lai Kuan Fook said that there is profound meaning for the artist to combine Buddhism and art as it enriches the content of his artworks. He praised SGM’s dedication in organising various events. He hoped more people will be able to elevate their life-state through studying Buddhism, the arts and literature.
President of Malaysian Central Research Academy of Art, Prof Cheng Haw-Chien opined that it was interesting for the artist to combine calligraphy and ink-painting in his creations. He also praised SGM for organising an event of international standard.
The exhibition ended on April 7 and attracted some 3,600 visitors.