Aug 2015 - National Visual Art Gallery, Artist: Sylvia Lee Goh Exhibit, Then and now: The Enduring heart

What does art do to people?



What did it do to us

on Wed Aug. 26th when we went to the National Visual Arts Gallery to see the exhibit by Sylvia Lee Goh?



Did we come away changed?


Are we happier, more introspective, aware and inspired?


YES, and we also had a wonderful time meeting Sylvia and learning more about her art!


If you ask Sylvia Lee Goh how and why she started painting she will tell you:  “I was looking for my own identity, a sense of self worth and discovered that painting allowed me to achieve all of these.”  It has been a labour of love occupying most of her free time over the last 40 years. This is her second solo exhibition.

The first one was 17 years ago and she has participated in 60 group exhibits locally and abroad.


Then and Now: The Enduring Heart is a feast for the senses!



Paintings from the Still Life category were filled with so much colour and detail you could almost smell the flowers and taste the Nonya kuih, especially the yellow coconut custard! Hearing the specifically chosen music playing in the background was a welcome delight that opened our hearts, minds and eyes to her beautiful paintings. Although we could not touch and feel them, we were touched by them, their brilliance and the emotion and messages they conveyed to us, or stirred in us!  


Not only were we transported to a time when women appeared more feminine and traditions played an important role, but our heart strings were tugged to think about relationships in our lives:  relationships not just with people, but with nature, society, ourselves, and God.  


Sylvia Lee Goh believes that each painting must have a story. Not only do her paintings have stories, she is able to tell their stories so poetically that they made us smile, laugh, cry and reflect.

One painting went missing for 26 years and now it has a brand new story.  Another painting titled After 1,000 Tears had its title changed (without permission during an exhibit in China) to After 1,000 YEARS, because of the Chinese obsession with longevity!


Of course, the subject of the painting was a beautiful woman!  


Sylvia Lee Goh is Malaysian of Peranakan heritage. She can be described as an environmentalist, psychologist, educator, wife and mother…but artist sums it up best.  She gets us thinking and that’s what artists do!  


Her most recent works, quite different from the rest, are thought provoking and challenged us to think about our role in society, in the future, and that maybe “hope is not enough.” We all have to do our part to make this world a better place.


Thank you, to Rosemary Chin, for planning this event and for introducing us to her friend and colleague, Sylvia Lee Goh.  The delicious snacks, just like the ones in the still life, were a lovely treat!  



Reviewed by

Maryann Kobzan-Diakow