A brush with beauty

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 1994, 12:00am

FOR Nancy Koh Lee, publication of her collection of Chinese paintings, calligraphy and poems is not only a rich opportunity for those who enjoy exploring the oriental arts, it is a means of turning ideals into the building of a better Asia.

Mrs Lee says the publication of Moment To Moment ($200), the collection of her art works from 1977 to 1994, is the realisation of her dream of working for a brighter future for the Asian people.

She has donated 2,000 copies to the Research Institute for the Humanities at the Chinese University, in the hope of raising $400,000 to support its Programme of Research Utilisation in the Social Sciences and Education.

The programme, a research study on the development of social sciences in oriental societies, is organised by Chinese University Research Professor To Cho-yee and is the joint effort of more than 30 leading scholars and scientists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

It's an attempt to work out better ways of adapting Western philosophy, literature and education in Eastern societies. 'That's very meaningful to Asia indeed, because Western social sciences still don't work very well in Asian society,' Mrs Lee said.

Another 1,000 copies were donated to Malaysia's Mount Miriam Hospital linear accelerator fund, to raise about $300,000 to buy new equipment for the cancer hospital. 'My family is from Malaysia and I want to do something for my motherland with the book,' the artist said.

Mrs Lee, a director of an investment company, said she finds peace in Hong Kong's hectic life by spending her leisure time on Chinese calligraphy. She practised it in Malaysia from the age of seven, but her artistic talent was not discovered until decades later.

She has dedicated the collection to her late teacher Ting Yen-yung, a master in Chinese painting, calligraphy and seal carving, without whose guidance she could never have developed her talent, she says.

'Although I only followed him in practising the arts for 11/2 years before he passed away, he took me to a new horizon in the universe of art after I first met him in 1977,' Mrs Lee said.

'I was so moved by his daring style when I first saw his works. His soft, wool brush followed his motions so well that it was just like part of his body.' Master Ting opened her mind on both the spirit and techniques of her painting and calligraphy. Mrs Lee, who sees many of her paintings and poems as a reflection of her Buddhist beliefs, says painting is the best means of using her leisure to delve into the beauty of human nature.

'With the arts, I learnt to be compassionate. Compassion is even broader than love to me, you don't need people to do anything to you in return for what you give. And life is much easier with the philosophy of arts,' she says.

'I have tried my best to illustrate the goodness of the world with my imagination and emotions. And I don't want people to find alienated human nature and conflict in my paintings and poems. There should be no struggle, but peace in this world.' Mrs Lee says: 'I have gained a calm life by learning the real spirit of arts, and I hope other people can find their own pure, graceful nature from my artworks.'