Lot 019

b. Penang, 1974


Signed and dated 'KOK HOOI' lower right '2007' (lower left)
Acrylic on jute
61cm x 76.5cm

Private Collection, Penang

ESTIMATE  RM 7,000 - 10,000

“Art is about seeing possibilities, especially with contrasts, not only in terms of colours but also in the play of opposites” – Chan Kok Hooi

Chan Kok Hooi playfully renders life through an array of Surrealist themed paintings. At the start of his artistic endeavour, he produced Non Series 1 – a colossal body of dream-like intricate illustrations depicting mythological and fictional characters at war – leaving viewers with mixed pleasures of delight, awe, humour and bewilderment. Though the emergence of Old Photo Series depicted in four collections (Car; Sexual Organ; MSN Messenger and Paper Doll) subdued his interest in fabricated dreams, the same emotions remain in the virtual reality of his newfound theme.

Remembrance of Your Smile manifests the life of the World Wide Web as Kok Hooi adopts the iconic MSN Messenger symbol as his protagonist – and the use of punctuation marks: colon, dash and close parenthesis - to form a smiling face commonly used to express oneself in Virtual language. This piece forms a series of work that depicts the ‘unbroken attachment to his environment, recalling memories of his childhood, his friends and hint of his implicit filial duties’. The simplism of the smiley is illustrated on a sepia toned background enhanced by bokeh effect, enriching the painted vintage photographic quality. The installment of the MSN Messenger icon was created during his participation in the ABN AMRO Malihom Artist in Residence Programme of the Wawasan Open University in Penang.

In 1992, Kok Hooi was granted a full art scholarship at the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur and entered the same college the following year. He graduated with a Paining major in 1996. He was actively involved in theatre since school and returned to Performing Arts in 1999. He began designing sets in 2003 which had greatly influenced his art evident in the inventiveness, complexity, comedy and delicacy of his works that create dramatic tension and dichotomy. His awards included the 2005 Mayor of Beppu Prize at the Beppu Asia Biennale of Contemporary Art, Japan; the 2003 national-level Philip Morris Asean Art Awards; the 2004 and 2006 awards in the Young Contemporary Artists competition. He received the Royal Overseas League scholarship in London in 2009 and was twice finalist of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2009. He also took part in major art festivals such as the Animamix Biennial in Taiwan, and Art Stage Singapore in 2011 and 2012. Outside Malaysia, he has held solos in New York, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Guam and the United States.