陳耀威 • 檳城
Those lines in graphite may look askew and awry, yet they are so bold, powerful and penetrating making you wonder if they are really by the hand of the quiet, shy and skinny Ch’ng Kiah Kiean.
When you come to know Kiah Kiean better, you will discover a volcano of artistic passion and creativity right beneath his gentle demeanour.
I first met Kiah Kiean in 1996 in a public slide show organised by Nanyang Folk Culture, a local cultural group of which I was a key player. It was quite a pleasure to see an architecture student coming out of the campus walls to take part in arts and cultural activities. Soon after that, he became a stalwart of the group and together we organised many arts and cultural activities in which his multi-faceted talent and ability were brought into play.
Since high school days, Kiah Kiean’s creativity in painting had already surpassed that of his peers and even many artists who boasted to be professional. Besides painting, he is also adept at calligraphy, photography and graphic design.
The old Penang is one of the major themes of Kiah Kiean’s sketches. Born and bred in George Town, he has fond memories of and a strong love and concern for the heritage of the city. In the recent years, as development has caused much damage to the old cityscape, he walked the streets even more frequently in order to preserve the disappearing street scenes and buildings in his sketch book.
But Kiah Kiean’s sketches are not direct, realist representations of the old buildings and street scenes of George Town. They are always imbued with his passion and affection toward his home city. By representing the buildings and street scenes with a twist, he is in effect expressing his affectionate impressions of his subjects.
In the sketches, Kiah Kiean embraces his subjects, be they buildings or street scenes, with strokes of thick and thin lines in so powerful a manner that the subjects are somehow twisted. Such an affectionate embrace of his subjects is always interesting and very often touching.
Not only being a burst of powerful lines, Kiah Kiean’s sketches are also a lively dialogue in black and white. The abstract and the concrete, the dynamic and the static, and the tense and the lax can always find their dialectic spaces in the visual dialogue, in which the spaces left blank always have a weight.
Now, having captured so many images of George Town with his graphite pencil, it is time for Kiah Kiean to share with the world his love for the heritage city. With all my heart, I wish his solo exhibition and the publication of his sketches collection a great success.
Tan Yeow Wooi • Penang