Kiah Kiean has a keen eye for the essential details and essence of things, fortified by his architectural training at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang and his flair in graphic design. He is able to distill a chaotic street scene and reduce it to his now distinctive streetscape. Though his subject matter may be rustic buildings, his drawings exude an obvious elegance and stylishness which are most pleasant to the eyes.
Kiah Kiean’s love for the city and its heritage is conspicuous in this book. By representing the nooks and corners often ignored by the passer-by, he accentuates and thus elicits thought-provoking questions from the viewer of his works.
Kiah Kiean experiments with and explores all possibilities of expressing lines with graphite, giving his viewers much thought-provoking experience. As a direct approach to communicating with lines and tones he opts for just black and white sans colours so that his audience
may enjoy his works without other distractions.
Tan Lye Hoe
陳來和 • 檳城
What makes Ch’ng Kiah Kiean he is today is his aspiration and passion for art. This double-degree holder – one in Housing, Building & Planning; the other in Architecture – departs from his professional training to become a successful artist and graphic designer, all because he believes in the power of dreams.
No teacher could be more proud than to have an illustrious student who wants to go where he wants to and be what he wants to be. He wants to be an artist so much so that at one stage when Kiah Kiean was under my tutelage in art did he declare that his first love was art.
As his tutor and mentor, I have never in any way doubted his intention as he has shown his talent, potential and love for this creative subject. Quiet and shy though he may be, he has on the contrary, displayed a sense of individuality and persistence to express his ideas in his own personal style although when he was in my class, he was always prepared to go though the mills, meticulously doing academic exercises, not leaving out any details in his studies of still-life.
Today, he has freed himself from all the academic inhibitions to take his own route to produce thought-provoking sketches with his sensitive line expressions. Though he might be modest in certain ways, I would say that he is definitely bold when it comes to art as is evidenced in his works in this book of his entitled Sketches of Pulo Pinang.
Kiah Kiean experiments with and explores all possibilities of expressing lines with graphite, giving his viewers much thought-provoking experience. As a direct approach to communicating with lines and tones he opts for just black and white sans colours so that his audience may enjoy his works without other distractions.
Through this approach he has displayed his strength and versatility in expressing a wide range of subjects from street scenes to buildings and from boats to houses on the sea-front, employing different treatment in styles where he has shown to be much at ease with constructive realism which is much reminiscent of his training in architectural drawing. However, that does not deter him from going impressionistic, even approaching the semi-abstract with expressive vigour and freedom, thus asserting his competence in this medium.
This fine collection of drawings put together by Ch’ng Kiah Kiean in one book Sketches of Pulo Pinang, is indeed a great accomplishment for a young lad and is so commendable for the high quality of the labour of love.
Tan Lye Hoe • Penang
嘉強的繪畫導師陳來和及三位知交陳耀威、邱昌仁與AMBIGA DEVY為這本書寫了感言，非常感謝他們。耀威是知名的建築修復家，曾修復榮獲聯合國教科文組織文化遺產獎的韓江家廟。身為檳城水彩畫會主席的昌仁是位建築師，也是位擅長畫街景的知名畫家。AMBIGA DEVY是位熱誠藝術工作者。他們為這本書寫感言自然很貼切。在此也感謝陳耀宗協助翻譯和校對。
李凱 • 檳城
I had the privilege of getting to know Kiah Kiean when I curated his art exhibition at Alpha Utara Gallery in 2005. Since then, we developed a friendship which has been greatly augmented by our service as members of the Penang State Art Gallery and our participation in publishing four art books, him as the designer and I as part of the editorial team.
Though I know him only for five short years, I felt as if I have known him all my life, or rather, all his life, since I am the older one. Kiah Kiean had started drawing early in his life. I have seen his drawings from age five, through his primary, secondary and tertiary schooling years, to the present. His drawings show that he possesses a God gifted talent and I am impressed with how he made use of that talent, with hard work and persistence, maturing into the artist he is today.
I admired Kiah Kiean’s works since I first laid eyes on them. Kiah Kiean has a keen eye for the essential details and essence of things, fortified by his architectural training at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang and his flair in graphic design. He is able to distill a chaotic street scene and reduce it to his now distinctive streetscape. Though his subject matter may be rustic buildings, his drawings exude an obvious elegance and stylishness which are most pleasant to the eyes. All his sketches in this book were done plein-air i.e. on the spot, in the open air. None of them is drawn from photographic images. Artistically, Kiah Kiean has developed a visual language of his own, elegantly distorting his subject matter, ruling out the use of a ruler, and demonstrating clearly that he is not reproducing photographic images. However, Kiah Kiean has the habit of taking photographic record of his subject matter. On hindsight, this habit has become an invaluable historic record as a number of the buildings and places found in this book are no more to be found (as at November 2009, the buildings at pages 18, 19, 24, 25, 28, 29, 88, 105, 127, 133, 144, 145, 156, 157, 158, 159, 161 have since been demolished).
I am glad Tan Lye Hoe, Kiah Kiean’s art tutor and three of Kiah Kiean’s comrade in arms lent their support to this book by writing an article each. Tan Yeow Wooi is an acclaimed restorer of historic buildings, whose projects include the UNESCO award winning Han Chiang Temple. Khoo Cheang Jin, the president of the Penang Water Colour Society, is a practicing architect and artist who, like Kiah Kiean, has combined his passion in both disciplines to produce well sought after Penang streetscapes. Ambiga Devy is a fellow State Art Gallery Committee Member and a fervent activist for the arts. I also thank Tan Yau Chong for his editorial contribution.
It has been a great pleasure editing this book. This collection of Kiah Kiean’s sketches lent to itself without much effort on my part. It depicts the Penang we seem so familiar with yet in a very fresh manner. It showcases the Penang we love and preserves the face of Penang which is fast disappearing. This is a book for every Penang lover.
Lee Khai • Penang