Monthly Archives: April 2012

Something in The Star!

The local newspaper, The Star has reviewed the Malaysian Watercolor Society (MWS)’s exhibition on the 25th March,2012.

I was surprised and excited to see one of my paintings right smack in the middle of it! I hope they don’t mind I copy and paste from the article to my post here. Great write-up, by the way. The writer took an effort to interview me over the phone too:-

Motley Talents


Keep on eye on the new generation of artists in this three-decade-old society.

IT has gone largely unnoticed that the Malaysian Watercolour Society (MWS) is 30 years old this year, although it was only registered in 1983, the year it held its first exhibition.

But since 2004, MWS has undergone guided renewal, with dramatic booster jabs of young talent. Ooi Aik Cheong and Yeo Eng Peng were brought in that year, followed by Nurhayati Md Yusoff and Chia Seng Chai in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Experienced hands Jansen Chow, Khoo Cheang Jin, Lee Weng Fatt, Loo HooiNam, Zaharuddin Sarbini and the older Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts duo of Tan Sik Yaw and Khor Seow Hooi were also conscripted for a steadying influence.

The society is known for its quirky ratio of gender, geography (location) and race, with the most important and unwritten criterion being “acceptability”.

Shimmering strokes: Yong Look Lam’s Semporna,Sabah(2012) shows a boatman manoeuvring his sampan.

A highly anticipated yearly event, especially in the 1980s when exhibitions and venues were few and far between, the MWS Show has also become a report card of the participating artists, besides being a useful platform for them in their fledgling years.

For example, Chang Fee Ming went on to attain spectacular international status, especially for his Mekong riverine odyssey, while Chin Kon Yit’s architectural survey of Malaysian cities since 1998 has made its way into coffeetable books.

The society, however, was disbanded briefly in 1990, and rebranded as the Malaysian Watercolour Organisation (MWO) in 1992. But it was reregistered as the MWS in 2007

In its latest exhibition, currently on at NN Gallery inKuala Lumpur, Ooi, Khoo Choo Kian and Shireen Lee (inFukuoka,Japan) are among those missing from the younger crop. New president Aminah Abdul Rahman is absent too, although she was actively involved in organising the show.

Of the 25 artists who took part in the inaugural 1983 exhibition, only Dr Wong Seng-Tong, 73, and Yong Look Lam, 50, have put up works this year. While Wong Juk Jen, Tsai Horng Chong, Wong Nai Chin and Le Chek Wen have passed on, nearly half of the original members had split to form the Contemporary Malaysian Watercolourist Association, which had its first exhibition in 1994.

But Dr Wong, who “retired” as president in 2010 after a yeoman service of nine two-year terms since 1992, is not the oldest of the pack in MSW 2012. The honour goes to Cheung Pooi Yip, 76, the Sungai Petani-based artist who opted for aPenang street scene instead of his better known abstracts. Dr Wong, who was strong on portraitures in the past decade, has returned to natural highland landscapes.

Luncail Dengan Belon Belonnya (Biarkan … Biarkan) byNurhayatiMdYusoff .

Look Lam excels with his piece, Semporna, Sabah, which shows a crouching boatman guiding his sampan through a forest of wooden stilts.

Architectural facades and landscapes remain popular among the 83 works of 28 artists, who show different approaches and styles. It’s back to more conservative terrain, unlike in the last two years, when the exhibitions leaned towards more contemporary concerns.

The game may have changed today, with greater Internet exposure and physical mobility, and technically improved materials. Still, there is nothing like the alacrity of washes, the spontaneity of strokes, the subtle play of light, and the sheer splendour of colour coquetry!

For architectural heritage, Lee Weng Fatt imbues his facades with heavily textured ducals, while Jansen Chow plays with vibrant hues of light, infractions and reflections, often from a strategic junction viewpoint. Khoo Cheang Jin and Khor Seow Hooi zero in onIpoh’s old buildings, with depictions of the railway station and the old town at Jalan Bandar Timah, respectively.

Of the Tan Choon Ghee wannabes, Lee Eng Beng uses Chang Fee Ming’s “Malioboro tarpaulin” technique in his work, Newsweek Stall, while Alex Leong takes the Straits-Eclectic façade pitch. Newcomer Tan Suz Ching tries breaking up the forms in mock pixilated fragments.

Mangga 29 captures Zaharuddin Sarbani’s affinity with Nature.

The floral parade is led by Koh Shim Luen, with insects camouflaged and enmeshed among petals and leaves, with Tean Wei Gin, Lee Sing Pan and Md Nor Bidin keeping her company.

The MWS’ next generation of thirty-somethings in this show certainly bears watching: Nurhayati, King Ban Hui, Yeo Eng Peng and Mohd Faizal Zainal.

Nurhayati, a United States graduate with a minor in visual art, is known for her works on the Thumbelina-like caprice of children, for which she uses her niece as model. But in MWS 2012, her Luncail Dengan Belon-Belonnya resounds with the flightiness of e.e. cummings’ mud-luscious poem, In Just.

Still on little girls, Ban Hui exploits the innocence and fragility of expressions to suggest, ominously, a tension with their immediate environment.

Eng Peng has switched from realistic depictions of local fruits to floral bouquets, but with an impetuous dash. Newcomer Jackie Chin’s Bicycle Part 2, with the precarious balance of the side stands, recalls the quaint bicycle social commentaries of Chow Chin Chuan.

Zaharuddin Sarbani’s works of mangoes in the kebun, with spots and sap, reveal this engineer-turned-artist’s affinity with Nature. Stalwart Calvin Chua captures the cleansing ritual of water with a continuation of his River Series, which he started in 2007.

Also taking part in the exhibition is Datuk Tengku Alaudin Tengku Abdul Majid, who was secretary-general of the-then Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry until he retired in 2003.

It’s a motley crew of talents whose aim should be to raise the bar and take the Malaysian Watercolour Society into new territory.

MWS 2012 exhibition is showing at NN Gallery, 53A & 56 Jalan Sulaiman 1, Taman Ampang Hilir, Kuala Lumpur, till March 31. Viewing from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. For details, contact 03 4270 6588.

-from the Sunday Star 25th March 2012 (Star Two page 21)-


Now, if you read the comment made on my painting… It’s interesting how the writer saw it as something like E.E.Cummings’s poetry, “In Just”. Shall we read the poem, please..?

in Just-

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

N Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame baloonman
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
baloonMan whistles


“in just” was originally published in The Dial Volume LXVIII, Number 5 (May 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc

Interesting poem, isn’t it?

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Home


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