Dyslexic artist on self-discovery journey to create portraits from scribblings


  • Focus
  • Thursday, 15 Jan 2015

Skilful scribblings: Guests watching Low draw a portrait of Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, during the opening of his exhibition at G Art Gallery in George Town.

WITH seemingly aimless scribbles, artist Vince Low creates lifelike portraits that are not only testament to his talent, but also reveal his journey of self-discovery.

His unique approach originated from a publicity campaign he was working on several years ago, as an illustrator with an advertising agency, for dyslexia awareness.

“During brainstorming sessions, the art director was scribbling down ideas on a paper, and throwing aside those he didn’t like.

“I thought I could use such scribbles to make art,” revealed the 38-year-old Kuala Lumpur native.

Oh hello there: A drawing of actress Marilyn Monroe by Low.
Oh hello there!: A drawing of actress Marilyn Monroe by Low.

But more importantly, having had diffi-culty reading since young, Low said the campaign helped him make the life-changing discovery that he himself was dyslexic.

“When I learnt how people with dyslexia saw words differently or had trouble reading, the more I started to realise that’s exactly how I was.

“Before then, I thought everyone saw words like that,” Low explained during the opening of his solo art exbition at G Hotel’s G Art Gallery in George Town, recently.

Featuring 16 of his ‘scribble art’ pieces, it is aimed at shining the spotlight on dyslexia and showing that people with the cognitive disorder can still be successful.

“Compared to many other countries, awareness on dyslexia is still lacking in Malaysia. Many parents cannot accept that their children are dyslexic.

“In my school days, I was constantly punished as I could not finish my homework,” said the artist, who is exhibiting his works in Penang for the first time.

Enter the Dragon: Low’s drawing of the legendary Bruce Lee.
Enter the Dragon: Low’s drawing of the legendary Bruce Lee.

As words always seem a blurred jumble to him, he finds art a much smoother way of expressing himself and capturing people’s attention.

Those on display at the exhibition depicting his favourite personalities like Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, martial artist Bruce Lee, comedian Charlie Chaplin and American screen siren Marilyn Monroe.

Each taking several days to produce, the art pieces conceal a huge amount of attention to detail and capture the spirit of the subject depicted.

Lost in the chaos are deliberate spirals, swirls, zig zags, curves and more, all carefully moulded together to create a coherent and instantly recognisable image.

These art pieces are special to Low because they carry an important message, that there can be more to something than first meets the eye.

I’m sleepy: A piece of comedian Charlie Chaplin by Low.
I’m sleepy!: A piece of comedian Charlie Chaplin by Low.

“Scribbles are something we all do, and often thrown away without thinking twice about it.

“Just because something doesn’t seem important, doesn’t mean it can’t be something great,” Low opined.

Among his other subjects are footballer Wayne Rooney, China’s founding father Mao Zedong, boxers Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, artist Andy Warhol, wrestler Hulk Hogan and model Cara Delevingne.

There are also pieces of actress Audrey Hepburn, musicians Jimi Hendrix and Pink, as well as fictional superhero Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, and The Joker.

Low’s exhibition runs until March 31. The gallery is located at the hotel’s first floor link bridge, and is open for public viewing at no charge.

All his works are also for sale.

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