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CHUAH SEOW KENG
Chuah Seow Keng is recognized as one of Malaysia’s leading artists and is very well known for his batik and watercolour paintings. Born in 1945 in Kelantan, Malaysia, Seow Keng now makes his home in Penang. In 1968 he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Suddeutsche Kunststoff Zentrum in Wurzburg, Germany. While attending this academy he specialized in fiberglass sculpture, a difficult, but rewarding art medium.
While being recognized as an accomplished sculptor, Seow Keng is also acknowledged as a masterful batik artist. His abilities as an artist were noticed at a very early age. He was exposed to the art of batik painting by his father, the renowned artist Chuah Thean Teng, who pioneered batik painting as a fine art form. Seow Keng excels in this intricate art technique and was chosen to demonstrate his batik skills at the International Freundschaftheim in Buckeburg, Germany. During 1974 Germany’s Television Channel Zweites-Deutsches-Fernsehes Trans-Tel made a documentary film of Seow Keng and his brothers who demonstrated the art of batik painting for German viewers.
Seow Keng’s depictions of the Malaysian culture in batik painting
portrays his style in a contemporary manner; he integrates the serenity,
harmony and gentle way of life of the Malaysian people in addition to
the peaceful beauty of the Malaysian countryside. He also employs an exciting contrast in myriad of urban activities occur seemingly independently, yet interwoven with a strong thread of commonality in the Malaysian way of life. Seow Keng utilizes colours with orchestrated care to create a style that is genuinely unique to his batik paintings.
Seow Keng’s batik paintings are of simple, daily life; and his harmonic scenes reveal his perceptive treatment of colours and light. He is constantly experimenting and expanding the boundaries of expression; accentuating a skilful treatment of forms and shapes. He combines a rich, harmonic blend of colours into bold, rhythmical patterns showing an understanding for spatial depth and vertical perspective.
Seow Keng returned to Malaysia after completing his studies in Germany. Soon thereafter, in 1970, the Malaysian Singapore Airline (M.S.A.) commissioned him to do a fibre-glass relief sculpture entitled Space for their office. The following year M.S.A. commissioned another fibre-glass sculpture entitled Time & Space for its Penang office. Seow Keng also created the Bank Crest, a fiberglass sculpture commissioned by the Bank Negara of Malaysia and that sculpture is currently being displayed at the entrance of the Bank Negara in Penang. Another fibre glass sculpture entitled Composition is on permanent display at the Yahong Art Gallery in Penang, Malaysia.
Seow Keng’s batik and watercolour paintings have been internationally acknowledged. Art reviews have appeared in Asia Magazine (1982, 1983), La Jolla Light, California, U.S.A. (1986), The Asian Expo, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. (1986), Artist (1989), Yazhou Zhoukan (Asiaweek’s Mandarin Issues) (No: 47, 1989), Impression (The American Express Magazine), Malaysian Tatler (August, 1991), and Wings Of Gold (Malaysian Airline System in-flight magazine) (June, 1992).
In 1988 two batik paintings by Seow Keng entitled Fish and Rural Life were selected by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for their greeting card selection. This is a prestigious honour for the country, Malaysia, as well as for the artist, Seow Keng.
In 1989 Seow Keng was awarded the Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Achievement at the Artitudes 7th International Art Competition in New York, U.S.A.
Exhibitions of his works include:
1973 Batik Art Exhibition, Fuchu and Tachikawa, Japan Batik Art Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan
1975 Batik Art Exhibition Kanda Gallery Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa, Japan
1986 Eva Chan Gallery, San Diego, California, USA
Submitted by James Low
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