CHOONG KAM KOW
(b. 1934, IPOH)

Dr. Choong Kam Kow is an internationally acclaimed and pioneering contemporary Malaysian artist, as well as a prominent academician in the field of art and design education. Since the 1950’s he has developed a distinct artistic style through the fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics. A master of colour, his works portray a diversity of shapes, sizes and colour arrangements – each conjuring vibrant and rhythmic visual effects. 

Choong as an artist has been exposed to, and influenced by, the Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Hardedge, Conceptualism and international art movements during his stay in New York in the 1960s and early 80’s. He has gone through the aesthetic assimilation and preservation process during his artistic journey and at the same time engaged himself in significant exploration and integration of these experiences into his own art. 

His art reflects his ceaseless probes into culture and history, theory and practice, humanity and matters, techniques and media. He possessed the intellectual spirit of the present era and beyond and used it to probe into his cultural surroundings, integrated and synthesized, to define new meanings and values in his creative endeavour.

WORKS BY THIS ARTIST

LULLABY FROM THE SMELL OF RAIN CLEARED SOIL 01 and 02
2020
Foraged Rock Paint on Ceramic, 11 x 10 x 2 cm each


Known to masterfully marry varied influences in his art, from Western geometric abstraction to Eastern painting techniques and philosophies, Dr. Choong creates a new work that is both deeply grounded in these traditions, yet strongly contemporary and evocative of today’s unique spirit. 

The painting is divided into nine squares in the same uniform size, alternating in smooth, pale teal squares and squares containing rough, impressionistic strokes in orange and yellow. The teal planes contain smaller squares with X’s at their centre, while an image of a surgical facemask lies on top of each orange and yellow square. At the centre of the piece is a QR code, signifying the convenience and ubiquity of technology in the humdrum of our lives today. 

Created during a historic global pandemic, Co-exist 12: Social Distancing employs today’s popular icons and turns them into one, organized abstraction: the X marks and ‘1 M2’ signs symbolize the necessity of physical space and social distancing, while the masks allude to our own protection when we step outdoors and the tireless plight of medical workers. 

Though these symbols refer to a devastating event that has shaken up the lives of millions, this work, in its neat and orderly abstraction, evokes a comforting sense of control—reflective of a single artist’s struggle to achieve balance and clarity amidst the chaos.