THE late Wong Nai Chin’s artworks are said to be influenced by his character; his strokes are bold, quick, confident and expressive - just like the person.
“He uses decisive brush strokes to express his inner reaction towards what he observes.
“Though he chooses to discard trivial details, his artworks offer a fresh look without losing any of its essence,” said close friend and Malaysia Contemporary Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Association president Dr Foo Yong Gong at the opening of An Exhibition in Commemoration of Wong Nai Chin.
It was jointly organised by the association, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Alumni Association Malaysia and Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM).
Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Heng Seai Kie launched the event that was attended by Wong’s family and close friends.
The exhibition showcases 87 pieces of the artist’s work, some of which are from his family’s personal collection.
Wong, who died at the age 57 in 2000 due to a heart attack, was a Singapore Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts graduate.
He was actively involved in arts education for more than three decades, in addition to his lecturing stints at several art institutions.
Wong was greatly influenced by his masters Shih Xiang Tho, Chen Chong Swee and Wu Chang Shuo.
The travelling artist created numerous paintings of his experiences when visiting countries like India, Nepal, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, China and those in South-East Asia; he was particularly attracted to Bali.
SGM secretary-general Koh Sia Feai said: “The main purpose of this exhibition is to honour the memory of an outstanding artist and create an opportunity for the public to appreciate his artworks.”
Koh lauded Wong for his passion and dedication to his craft, citing an example of him completing a study trip to Paris and Europe, and subsequently producing a collection of sketches, films, essays and paintings despite his poor health.
Heng commended Wong for his works and contributions, which she said helped enrich the art history of Malaysia.
“I hope that more NGOs will take part in the establishment of culture and art, and elevate the spiritual civilisation of our people.
“The National Art Gallery will also realise the 1Malaysia concept next year by having an exhibition with a multi-racial element,” she said.
Dr Foo noted that Wong’s painting philosophy was very eastern, and that his artworks could be categorised into two groups - Chinese ink and Western-style watercolour.
“Wong believed that man and nature were interconnected, which was why he loved the outdoors,” he said.
“He travelled to many places to explore their culture, lifestyle and landscapes.
“He captured what he saw in sketches, then painted his own interpretation of what he experienced when he got home.”
Dr Foo journeyed with Wong to Paris before the latter’s death, and described it as an awe-inspiring trip.
“All artists worship Paris as the art capital of the world. Wong was mesmerised by what he saw and inspired by the artists there.
“Wong also believed in contributing to society, and was actively involved in promoting the arts scene to make it more multicultural and vibrant.
“He formed several arts-related associations, organised group exhibitions, initiated cultural exchanges and held fundraisers for numerous arts activities,” said Dr Foo, adding that he felt saddened to losing a friend he knew since 1966.
An Exhibition in Commemoration of Wong Nai Chin is held until Sunday at the Fifth Floor Exhibition Hall, Wisma Kebudayaan SGM, 243 Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL.
The exhibition is open to the public from 11am to 6pm daily. Admission is free.
For details, call 03-2141 2003.
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