Friday, March 27, 2015

Artistic Tributes To A Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew (1923 - 2015) - Red Dot Island Style

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Red Dot Island's first prime minister and architect of her astounding progress into modernity and first world status, passed away peacefully at 91 in the early morning of 23 March.

Not unusually, Red Dot Diva saw the sad news on Twitter during one of her nightly REM breaks. He has been ill for some time and the citizens knew the inevitable was coming. Still, the almost united sense of loss was deep. And real. (Even the detractors who hated him so much were more vitriolic than usual, which to Red Dot Diva, was a balance to those who began heralding the stern but powerful politician like a saint.)

Alas, since this is not a blog on politics, nor is Red Dot Diva able to write wonderful heartfelt posts like ex-Straits Time editor Bertha Henson, she will refrain from making a case as to whether Mr LKY was a man to be admired or despised. To her, there is a need for profound respect during times like these. Red Dot Diva is after all but a humble minion, her meagre life's achievements (were there even any?) hardly accounting to anything much, and a physical embodiment of the sometimes unpopular policies arising from LKY's legacy.

During his time as Prime Minister, my parents were able to find good regular jobs, start businesses, buy a small terrace house, educate their two daughters well and as a result, here is Red Dot Diva - able to read, write, live in a safe (and clean) country with first world country conveniences galore, get exposed to various pop-culture and books, own all these digital equipment to maintain this blog, and travel the world if she so desires. This might not have been possible at all if Red Dot Island had remained a forgotten island in the land masses that is now called South-East Asia.

Despite this, Red Dot Diva is aware that outside the political arena, LKY was hardly known by her pop-culture peers elsewhere. As locals lined up for hours to pay respects to his casket, pour their hearts out regarding their feelings about the man, and keyboard warriors argue about decorum or lack of during the State's week of mourning, she only received condolences from 3 of her overseas friends out of the many she knew. Other than the island's neighbouring countries where the media kept track and covered various forms of LKY's life and his passing, the pop-culture world does not care. Not to mention, how LKY and our nation are generally viewed through the lens of the Western media.

To them, there was probably only one other Mr Lee who truly mattered.

Still, Red Dot Diva strives in her small little ways to put Red Dot Island on the world map, and to reveal to her friends from all over the globe what makes a local islander geek tick. And during this special week, she noticed that the nation has been united (more so than less) in many surprising ways.
Some of these were in the form of heart-achingly beautiful or poignant artistic tributes offered to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Here are some of them:

1. International pop-culture brands

These may not be truely artistic in nature however, with their regional headquarters housed in the Sandcrawler building located in Red Dot Diva, leading the way of giving a respectful nod to #RememberingLKY, were the Disney-Marvel-Star Wars (Lucas Arts) brands changing their FB pages icons and headers.

20th Century Fox Singapore also went grey...

2. Art pieces

There were simply too many to list and feature as established, aspiring and unknown artists took to ink and pen/brush to articulate their grief and respects for Mr Lee. So here are a few that Red Dot Diva were particularly moved by.

One of the most beautiful tribute portraits Red Dot Diva had seen was drawn by master Stanley Lau aka ArtGerm.

Then, there was the A2-sized piece that astounded many with the artist's dedication. Young Ong Yi Teck had written the name Lee Kuan Yew 18,0000 times as a tribute to the tenacity and will of the founding father. The arduous feat took about 15 hours.

You can follow his personal journey into completing the piece on his Instagram.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew" After 15 hours or so of torturous hand writing session, it's a wrap. Approximately 18, 000 words written. Only drawing pens used, no correction fluid/tape involved. Firstly, this piece of work is meant as a tribute to the great man himself, who is critically ill right now. As much as i would love to see Mr Lee recover and celebrate the nation's 50th Birthday, we ought to prepare ourselves for the worst. My prayers go out to Mr Lee and the family. One thing is clear though: without Mr Lee, Singapore wouldn't be what it is today. And as i drew the picture, it reminded me of two things: 1) success requires dedication and perseverance. 2)mistakes are inevitable. Whatever wrong decisions Mr Lee has made in the past (If any) does not change the fact that he dedicated his life into building this Small Nation since independance and brought us to where we are now. We should be appreciative of that, certainly. As for the drawing wise, it has many 'first' in it. Ita the first time i attempt on a A2 size paper. The first time i did any drawing by writing. And the first time i ever drew for nearly 10 hours in a day. Perhaps the most challenging piece so far. Feel free to share this as we pray for Mr Lee's recovery and maybe... This can get viral or something and the man himself get to see it :) #lky #getwellsoonlky @sgig #sgig
A photo posted by Ong Yi Teck (@friedricebucket) on

The portrait is currently on display at the National Technological University.

Illustrator Elena Yeo draws a lovely one of Mr Lee and his wife Madam Kua Geok Choo, who passed away in 2010:

Local comic creator Evangeline Neo, who is better known as Evacomics, drew this meaningful piece after she finished paying her last respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House.

The original piece is not for sale. However, Eva has kindly allowed the digital image to be downloaded, circulated and used so long as it's not for commercial purposes. The high-resolution scanned artwork can be found in her blog link.

Red Dot Diva's arty acquaintance, Kelvin Chan (aka Rocket Ray Gun), is a senior infographics journalist with The New Paper.

As part of the paper's tribute to Mr Lee, Kelvin has drawn some intricate portraits like the one below, and infographics to accompany the piece.

Two friends of Red Dot Diva's geeky pal Jas have also given their unique visual perspective on this unusual period of our small nation's story. They are illustrators Favian Ee, who favoured the chibi-style...

and 2D visual effects artist, @ghying.

3. Sand sculpture

A social enterprise called Castles Can Fly decided to build a sand sculpture on the East Coast Beach as a tribute to LKY. It took 10 volunteers of different ages to make the giant 3m x 5m sand artpiece.

4. Lego Bricks

Then, there were some who literally build their tribute brick by brick. This piece of the cortege leaving the Istana was done by Primary 2 student Jordan Chua:

Pic from Instagram @Christian.Chua

Mr Lee's State Funeral Procession will take place tomorrow 29 March, from 2 PM to 5:15 PM.

As our island says our final goodbyes to the one-of-a-kind unforgettable public figure, here's also Red Dot Diva's wish that we each do our part to make Red Dot Island an even better, kinder and progressive place for one and all.

Farewell, Mr Lee. May we do you proud.

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