Autistic artists share their worlds

Khik shows his artwork ‘Cosmic Conquerors’ that is acrylic on canvas.

ARTIST Khik Weng Keat, 26, has a vision of space that is somewhat unconventional.

More than just the solar system, his vision of space has stars, constellations, animals and man-made objects sent into space.

With his strong sense of creativity, he fleshed out his vision on the canvas using acrylics.

Artists with their parents and members of Persatuan Amal Indah at the exhibition.Artists with their parents and members of Persatuan Amal Indah at the exhibition.

Each brush stroke breathed life into his characters, with textures adding a realistic touch to his artwork.

The solar system and animal space explorers play a central role in Khik’s painting, which he named “Cosmic Conquerors”.

“I was inspired by a picture of the solar system and the universe that my mother showed me.

“The planets, including Pluto, play various important roles in astrology.

“Aside from rockets, engineers also flew animals and launched space probes and satellites to test space flights and explore space, so it is only right to include these elements,” he said.

Chan (left) with her 'Rosy Pink' artwork using poster colours on paper, with a clay sculpture. With her is Teo. - Photos: LOW LAY PHON/The StarChan (left) with her 'Rosy Pink' artwork using poster colours on paper, with a clay sculpture. With her is Teo. - Photos: LOW LAY PHON/The Star

Khik’s painting also features constellations such as Leo the Lion, Taurus the Bull, Cancer the Crab, and Scorpio the Scorpion.

“If you look closely, you can uncover the other nine constellations in the painting,” he said with a cheeky smile.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 13, Khik expresses himself through art, a craft that he has been developing since he was young.

Today, he is inseparable from his art materials.

“I always carry papers, pens and colour pencils wherever I go,” he said.

More of his artworks are displayed in his blog, launched with the help of his brother, Weng Wah, 28.

Kew (second right) showing his artwork ‘Supporting Each Other, to Tan (third from left).Kew (second right) showing his artwork ‘Supporting Each Other, to Tan (third from left).

Khik was among 12 artists who had their works displayed and sold at “From Cocoon to Butterfly”, a charity art exhibition at EkoCheras Mall, Kuala Lumpur.

Organised by Persatuan Amal Indah, in collaboration with Federal Territories Residents Representative Council (MPPWP) Cheras Sub Zone-3, it was launched by Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai.

Similar to Khik, Alicia Chan Xin Yee, 20, has always liked to create art since she was a toddler.

Her mother Irene Teo Ai Ling, 48, said Chan started sketching and drawing cute animals and human figures as a child.

Khik’s artwork ‘Tea for Thousands’.Khik’s artwork ‘Tea for Thousands’.

“My daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was a toddler.

“As a special kid, she would often display disturbed emotions when overwhelmed, especially when placed in a new environment.

“Drawing helps regulate her emotions and calms her down,” said Teo.

Now, Chan plays with vibrant colours and shapes to create artworks, featuring paintings of girls with flowers on their heads.

Teo said Chan also found joy in creating miniature clay sculptures.

“She creates these cute characters and comes up with different themes and stories for her characters.

Hooi How Yuan’s artwork ‘Precious’.Hooi How Yuan’s artwork ‘Precious’.

“I am glad she can use her imagination to do what she enjoys,” Teo added.

Another artist Bryan Kew Kai Wen, 22, has been dabbling with poster colours from a young age.

With assistance from his mother Cally Pang Siew Fung, 49, Kew said he found peace and relaxation in painting fishes.

“I want to convey the fluidity and freedom of swimming fishes,” he said while talking about two of his works named ‘Free and Easy’ and ‘Tranquil’.

Travelling all the way from Johor Baru, Pang told StarMetro that her son attended art classes in Kuala Lumpur once every two months.

“We could not find an art centre in Johor Baru that offers one-to-one lessons to autistic students, so we send him to one in Kuala Lumpur.

“It can be tiring, but we are willing to as long as my son gets to hone his art skills.

Gavin Yong Yi Onn’s artwork ‘My Little Haven’.Gavin Yong Yi Onn’s artwork ‘My Little Haven’.

“I feel so happy seeing his works displayed, no longer hidden in the corner of his room,” she said.

Persatuan Amal Indah founder and president Chew Mee Waing said the exhibition was held to increase awareness that people with autism have talent.

“Although they cannot properly express themselves verbally, they could tell their stories through creating beautiful artworks.

“Twelve artists participated in the exhibition, with 31 artworks featured,” she said, adding that the medium they used were acrylic on canvas and poster colours on paper.

Chew said funds raised would contribute to supporting the artists’ art training and purchasing necessities to be donated to the needy, encompassing the homeless and vulnerable groups such as orphanages, nursing homes, disability centres, single mothers and the visually impaired.

Clement Ooi Kit Meng’s artwork ‘Forest Splendour’ using acrylic on canvas.Clement Ooi Kit Meng’s artwork ‘Forest Splendour’ using acrylic on canvas.

MPPWP Cheras Sub-Zone 3 president Leong Ooi Yee said the exhibition title reflected the journey the artists underwent.

“From cocoon to butterfly is a wonderful aesthetic process of transformation.

“We hope they can truly express themselves and build confidence,” added Leong.

Chew and Leong expressed hopes to continue organising art exhibitions to highlight more young artists on the autism spectrum.

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