Keep­ing the fun alive

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

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Culture - By TER­ENCE TOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

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 www.g13­gallery.com.

— G13 Gallery

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

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