by Ho Chee Lick and Anne Lee Tzu Pheng
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“Most things in the world around us have poems hidden in them waiting to be revealed if we have the will to pay attention and see them with the heart.”
— Anne Lee Tzu Pheng
With crayons and stained paper, artist Ho Chee Lick wanders around neighbourhoods in Singapore observing, perceiving, looking for that “something”: quiet and unremarkable objects and scenes of basic everyday life. One day some of his drawings came into the hands of poet Anne Lee Tzu Pheng who rediscovers the quiet beauty of these captured moments and explores their story with her words.
Common Life is a visual and poetic journey into territories the mind often finds too familiar to excite feelings or thoughts.
About the artist
Ho Chee Lick is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. He holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Kansas, USA. Being a person of many talents, Ho is also an artist, a bilingual poet and translator, a newspaper columnist, and a musician.
Ho started learning art from Chen Wen Hsi and Chen Chong Swee at the Chinese High School during the 1960s. He later studied under the former in his studio for two years. Since then, art has remained his lifelong passion.
About the poet
Anne Lee Tzu Pheng has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the Singapore Cultural Medallion (1985); SEA Write Award (1987); Gabriela Mistral Award from the Republic of Chile (1995); Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award (1996); and the NBDCS Award for English Poetry (three times). Some of her poems have been set to music. She published three new books in 2012 and another two in 2014, including Soul’s Festival, a compilation of her first four collections which had been out of print.
Common Life makes it quickly irrelevant to tell where images end and poetry begins. Each of Ho Chee Lick and Anne Lee Tzu Pheng’s paired responses to the ordinary calms both the eye and the heart. The deep beauty in what they spy leaps out like moonlight on things. This collaboration is as flawless as it comes, among the most satisfying I’ve experienced in ages.
—Gwee Li Sui, poet, artist, and literary critic
As a comic fan as well as graphic novel artist, it is indeed fortunate to come to know Common Life. This book weaves me in and out of the pictures and words beautifully in between them. From Bukit Batok to Bedok, Simei to Serangoon, it brought back some vivid memories for me. Though most of the work are done in crayons, it is amazing to see how Chee Lick could create a broad array of styles; one scene reminisces of Wu Guanzhong's ethereal landscape (Waiting, Page 146-147), another echoing Egon Schiele's distorted figure (Youth, Page 142-143). Binding with Ann's seemingly simple yet spiritus verses it touched my senses and fills me with the joys and sorrows of this place we call home. Such is the true beauty of this work.
—Koh Hong Teng, graphic novelist and author of Garden of Foolish Indulgence
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Publication Date: 11 August 2018
Dimension: 150mm x 200mm