My Masterpiece at National Gallery Singapore


“My Masterpiece” is the first of an exciting line-up of initiatives and activities that will bring Singaporeans closer to their arts heritage in a lead-up to the opening of Singapore’s National Gallery later this year. Over the course of 2015, the Gallery will be unveiling paintings created by key artists in Singapore and Southeast that inspired a personality. These artworks will be featured in the Gallery’s permanent galleries when it opens.

The Gallery aims to capture the artistic spirit of Singapore and Southeast Asia, as well as encourage a deeper appreciation of art and foster a greater sense of national and cultural pride.

In this “My Masterpiece” Series presented by National Gallery Singapore, Singapore’s “Queen” of Comedy, Kumar Chinnadurai, opens up his heart and speaks about how Raden Saleh‘s Wounded Lion stirs up memories of his emotional past.

Asia 361: What do you think of the “My Masterpiece” series and the opening of the new National Gallery?

Kumar: I think the ‘My Masterpiece’ series is a great initiative by the National Gallery Singapore to make art accessible to people from all walks of life. Many locals, heartlanders in particular, do not frequent art museums as they feel that they will not be able to understand or appreciate art. Through the ‘My Masterpiece’ series, we are able to reach out, share our own interpretation and help more people see different ways of interpreting art.

I am very excited about the opening of the National Gallery Singapore as it will be a good chance for us to learn more about Singapore and Southeast Asia art and also to appreciate art in general.

Wounded Lion artwork

Kumar picked “Wounded Lion” by Raden Saleh.

Asia 361: How do you personally relate to the artwork “Wounded Lion”?

Kumar: Instead of a fierce and almighty lion roaring, I see a powerful animal growling in pain as he has a broken spear sticking out from its back. We face many battles in life and even though we go through so much pain, we walk away triumphant with so much power at the end of the day.

Firstly, I was intrigued by the realistic and dramatic expressions in the painting. Secondly, I felt that I was able to connect with the wounded lion – I’ve gone through a lot in life and instead of giving up, I pushed through and fought on to show the world who I am, just like the wounded lion baring its teeth.

Asia 361: What are some personal struggles you faced?

Kumar: I wasn’t born into a rich family and I didn’t choose the mainstream career path. Instead, I went with my guts to pursue what I wanted to do. At a point of time, I lost all my friends, I lost everything – my family didn’t talk to me for 10 years. But I believed in myself and I knew that one day my efforts would pay off; by God’s grace, it did.

Asia 361: What’s your advice to others who are experiencing a tough time?

Kumar: You’re allowed to cry. It is OK to cry and it is OK to laugh. If you are going through a hard time, don’t get fixated on the problem. Move away from the problem for a while because if you keeping thinking about it, you will never, ever find a solution with the state of mind that you are in. So you need to walk away from it, take some time off for yourself and come back to it after a while.

Most importantly, you have to believe in yourself because all of us go through hard times – take it as God’s way of testing us.

Find out more about the “My Masterpiece” series from the National Gallery website and see more artwork selected by celebrities including Singapore actress Joanne Peh, Singapore chef Willin Low, film director Anthony Chen and Professor Edwin Thumboo.

See more stories behind the “My Masterpiece” series here, or follow their updates on Facebook.


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Loves food, particularly steak cooked to a perfection rareness of medium accompanied by a bottle of Pinot noir. Self-proclaimed 'gadget geek' - intrigued by the beauty of new technologies that make the impossible possible.

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