The works in this show are much better than what Chong has done in the past because of their larger size,” said architect and art collector Ee Poh Kiat of Chong Ai Lei’s solo exhibition, When I See You Again.
Chong, at 33, is one of the bright sparks in the Malaysian art scene. Her solo show, which opened at The Edge Galerie in Mont Kiara on Jan 10, is her first in Malaysia following three overseas solo exhibitions. She has also participated in many international group shows.
The large-format works — 1.7m by 2.3m or 2.3m by 1.7m — depict the artist in her childhood home in Segamat, Johor.
Said Ee, “The works are bigger and pose a greater challenge ... anything smaller would not have projected the same energy as this. There is a much greater presence in her works this time around. I think she should continue working with this scale — it suits her.”
Prominent artists who attended the preview included Jalaini Abu Hassan, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Chong Siew Ying, Kow Leong Kiang, Umibaizurah Mahir @ Ismail, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Ali Rahamad and Shia Yih Yiing. Among the collectors who came to check out the works were Mohd Suhaimi Ahmad, Pakhruddin Sulaiman, Gouw Kim San, L C Gouw, Shaik Rizal Sulaiman, Dr Steve Wong, Bingley Sim, Raymond Lee and Lena Tan.
“Chong’s paintings truly fascinate me,” said Sim, executive director of ZJ Advisory business consultancy.
“I have been following her for more than six years. Her compositions create a sensuous atmosphere while her use of mellow pastel colours makes viewers crave for more. She has set a very high standard for young emerging artists.”
Students from Chong’s alma mater, Dasein Academy of Art, and her former lecturer and fine art department head Kim Ng, were also present.
Chong dabbled in graphic design as a freelancer after graduation and took a part time job as a gallery assistant. In 2010, she committed herself to a career as a full-time artist and has not looked back since.
As a relatively young artist, she has achieved considerable success. Her first three solo exhibitions were in Yogyakarta (2013), Jakarta (2016) and Hong Kong (2017). One of the finalists at the Malaysian Emerging Artist Award in 2009, Chong emerged the winner two years later. She has also participated in Art Stage Singapore (2015), Art Stage Jakarta (2016), Start Art Fair in the UK (2014), Art Busan in South Korea, and Art Taipei in Taiwan (2016). Recently, a work from her True Romances series was sold in an international auction in Hong Kong for RM30,000. Chong’s latest show features eight large paintings priced at RM33,000 each.
Supported by Matrix Concepts, When I See You Again by Chong Ai Lei, at The Edge Galerie in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, ends on Jan 20. Opening hours are 11am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Visit www.theedgegalerie.com for details or call the gallery at 03-64190102.
Watch a highlight video of the opening night here.