10 things about: Urban sketcher Ch’ng Kiah Kiean BY OPALYN MOK

GEORGE TOWN, May 22 — Known for his graphite and watercolour sketches of buildings and streetscapes of Penang, Ch’ng Kiah Kiean’s rise to fame in the art world is one that is almost meteoric.

The 42-year-old has been sketching and drawing buildings since his school days so naturally, he went into architecture and graduated as an architect.

He worked as an architect for a short period before venturing into graphic design for 10 years. Though he only became a full-time artist two years ago, Ch’ng held his very first solo art exhibition back in 2000, the same year he graduated from USM with a Bachelor of Architecture degree.

He held another exhibition in 2002 and by 2009, held another solo at Seni Mutiara Gallery and also published his first art book, Sketches of Pulo Pinang. The book was an instant hit. He is also one of the founder members of Urban Sketchers of Penang and is a blog correspondent of Urban Sketchers.

In 2011, he published his second compilation, Line-line Journey, which was also snapped up almost immediately after its release. By then, Ch’ng already had a large following of fans and started getting invitations to give talks and lectures on urban sketching.

He published two more books, Sketches Diary of Penang published by National Taipei University and Sketches of Asia-Pacific published by Yuan Ze University, Taipei, last year.

This year, Ch’ng showed new works after he started experimenting with twigs and ink paintings back in 2011. He recently held the Ink-Between solo exhibition at Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, his first series of ink and twig paintings of his interpretation of Nature.

Here, Ch’ng shares his story on his love for sketching and painting.

Read more.

My Bali sketches featured on DestinAsian Feb/Mar 2012

BALI, INDONESIA “Traveling is definitely more fun when I have my sketchbook with me,” says Penang-born artist Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, best known for his graphite drawings of George Town’s old
streetscapes. “Sketching brings me closer to the places that I visit, and leaves me with indelible memories that are far more personal than images recorded through a camera. As with these three
scenes from Bali, which I sketched during a trip to the island last July, I look for scenic locations where I can also interact with locals and listen to their stories. People teach me more about a place than any amount of observation can, and the Balinese are among the most genuine and hospitable people that I have met on my journeys, with a vibrant spiritual culture to match. Bali also happens to be incredibly picturesque, whether amid the shimmering rice terraces of the highlands or down on a temple-studded beach. I can’t wait to return—and when I do, I’ll be sure to have my sketching tools
along. They are as important to me as my passport.”

TROPICAL TRIPTYCH
From top: The venerable sea temple of Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most popular sights; Mount Batur, an active volcano in the Balinese highlands that rises above the largest crater lake on the island; the picturesque rice terraces of Ceking village, near Ubud.

Sketching George Town

Text: Sharon Cheah @ Art in the City

ONE can see him sketching away, a pencil or a twig in his left hand, on Sunday afternoons, usually in a shaded five foot walkway in the city named after Britain’s King George III. In the last few years, 37-year-old Ch’ng Kiah Kiean has made a name for himself as an urban sketcher and an artist of shapely lines as he immortalises George Town’s 18th and 19th century buildings – the core collection which is now bounded within an area listed under the World Heritage Site – on acid-free paper.

Ch’ng captures the elaborate outlines of Chinese clanhouses and Indian temples, the simpler silhouettes of the Straits Chinese shophouse, and eclectic details in facades in graphite and black Chinese ink – drawing them not as photo-perfect representations but with lively lines and exaggerated angles, infusing the buildings with personality and a joie de vivre.

In his second solo show, Line-line Journey, he spreads out from George Town to Bangkok and Macau, having been inspired by a global online sketching group called Urban Sketchers. He has also started sketching with twigs sharpened to variously-sized points, dipped into Chinese ink.

My favourite sketch, I think, is the one of Cheah Kongsi which he uses as the cover sketch of his catalogue/book for this exhibition. The quintessentially Chinese outline of the row of buildings in Armenian Street, seen from within the clanhouse’s administrative building, is like a glittering necklace worn against George Town’s skies.

Line-line Journey, 10-24 July, 12noon – 6pm, at Galeri Seni Mutiara, Lot No. 2 & 4, First Floor, The Whiteaways Arcade, Church Street, 10200 Penang

Find out more at: Art in the City

路過留筆‧線牽3城 莊嘉強展出40幅素描

報導:蔡愛卿

那些走過的路,看過的城市,他用無數線條記錄令他感動的建築物。檳城素描畫家莊嘉強過去兩年用素描筆描繪三座城市的建築物風情,用線條讓你領略澳門、曼谷、喬治市!

“路‧線”莊嘉強素描個展是今年喬治市節慶的系列活動之一,將于下月10日至24日在檳城珍珠美術館舉辦。即將展出的40幅作品,是莊嘉強過去兩年來行走在澳門、曼谷與喬治市的傑作。

莊嘉強在2009年加入全球性的城市素描家(URBAN SKETCHERS)網上聯盟后,作品量大增。他積極畫了多幅以喬治市老建築為對象的作品,並張貼在布落格中與全球的素描愛好者分享。

加入城市素描家網上聯盟令莊嘉強認識了一些亞洲城市的同道中人。包括泰國曼谷的素描畫家,為此特地前來檳城寫生,並邀請嘉強也前往曼谷。此次將展出的曼谷作品,就是泰國之行所畫。

嘉強在這次展出的作品中也展現更豐富的素描媒介,包括水彩素描以及枯枝筆所畫的作品。枯枝筆是他向台灣素描畫家學來的新媒介,以削尖的枯枝為筆沾墨,畫出與鉛筆線條迥然不同的感覺。

這次是莊嘉強第四場個展,他也將推出第二本個人素描作品集“路‧線”,除了上述三座城市的素描外,也收錄台灣之行期間的作品,總共約80幅佳作。