The Star Malaysia - Star2

Keeping the fun alive

Young artist presents a playful and lively exhibition, urging viewers to slow down.


MAHATMA Gandhi once said: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” For certain, the Indian nationalis­t leader meant that for adults and he wasn’t referring to a child’s pace of life back then. In this hectic day and age, it is easy to see how young children and teens are so caught up with the stresses and schedules of modern life, that they forget about things that really matter.

Melaka-based artist Chong Soon Leong, through his oil on canvas works, is aiming to discuss “fun” in the context of childhood.

His Peekaboo exhibition, now showing at G13 Gallery in Petaling Jaya, is a playful and lively collection, urging viewers to slow down.

Today’s young children, says Chong, face many pressures from external and internal sources. For example, there might be stress in the family and school environmen­t, and even social media peer pressure.

“I always think of children as very innocent and very happy. They bring me lots of joy. I hope that when viewers look at my paintings, they can reflect on things from their childhood that they may have lost,” says Chong, 27, in an interview this week.

“I want them to remember their lives through the eyes of a child, when things were simpler.”

This Peekaboo exhibition, maintains Chong, isn’t too heavy on social pressures and narratives.

“Every generation has wonderful childhood stories to tell. As adults, we want to look back at happier times being a child. However, these days, I feel the young generation are missing out. Are we making them grow up too fast? Is there no such thing as simple fun and games?” says Chong.

Chong suggests that most children these days might not have enough time to play.

“There is this pressure cooker environmen­t for them now. Look at all those early learning classes. It’s how the modern world works.”

The exhibition features seven of Chong’s oil on canvas works, all featuring a pair of children at play.

Freeze shows a young pair playing policemen, while Where Am I? does suggest, in a quirky manner, issues like belonging and home.

Chong’s favourite work is The Mammoth, featuring two children beside a pre-historic elephant. An odd combo, you might think, but Chong says he chose the mammoth for its positive connotatio­ns.

“Despite being a large creature, it was also known for being friendly and gentle,” says Chong.

He hopes that viewers to the exhibition will also bring their children with them.

“Hopefully, they will be able to interact with my paintings as well,” he adds.

Peekaboo is the seventh instalment of G13 Gallery’s Project Room series, which promotes new talents. It is also the first solo showcase for Chong, who has previously been featured in group shows at G13 Gallery.

Peekaboo is showing at G13 Gallery, Ground Floor, Block B, Kelana Square, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya in Selangor till Nov 18. The gallery is open daily (except Sundays and public holidays) from 11am to 5pm. Call: 03-7880 0991 or visit

 ?? — G13 Gallery ?? A close-up of Chong’s Where Am I? (oil on canvas, 2017).
— G13 Gallery A close-up of Chong’s Where Am I? (oil on canvas, 2017).

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