Poh Siew Wah is an abstract expressionist artist known for his unique depictions of Southeast Asian sites in watercolour and oil paint. Throughout his artistic career, he has been influenced by modern Western art, such as the work of Cubist painters like Braque and Picasso. He is also an admirer of the Spanish painter Antoni Tapies.
NAFA at Middle Road shows us Poh’s Cubist-inspired sensibilities. The façade, once located at the junction of Middle Road and Victoria Street, is made of sharp diagonals. Poh intentionally uses a vibrant yellow to saturate the building, contrasting it against the calm blue sky. The skyline in the foreground stretches from one end of the canvas to another. People in the front mirror this subject, appearing to form an angular line. Poh’s crisscross of light and form injects the piece with energy and spirit.
By 2002, NAFA already had plans to move out of Middle Road to a new purpose-built campus. Poh’s painting is, therefore, a suitable tribute to the campus before it moved to Bencoolen Street in 2004.