Lot 012

b. Selangor, 1970


Signed and dated 'KOW LEONG KIANG 2008' (lower right)
Oil on canvas
90cm x 90cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 20,000

Illustrations of rural preadolescent girls of Malay descent are Kow Leong Kiang’s primary subject of interest portraying female values based on Malay culture - the ideals of modesty, innocence and naivety ingrained from childhood. Since the Innocence and Malay Girl series, he has continued to advance his painterly skills within the familiar setting – a young woman by the coast - by applying delicate brushstrokes but in larger scale and with a twist, as depicted here.

Kow sets a suave tone by the use of muted and pastel colour palette. The notion of sentimentality still prevails although the memory did not seem too long ago. Unlike the rustic colour palette and raw brush strokes in his early Innocence and Malay Girl series that display a distant nostalgic past, this painting captures the present. A young woman ashore gazing into space in the opposite direction of a large trawler boat - commonly used by fishermen in Thailand - is seen afloat in the sea
Kow subtly addresses the issue of identity and culture through his approach of subject matter. Although dressed in traditional baju kurung, her unique features are of distinct Asian heritage but uncommonly Malay. Her rosy cheeks and blushed ears are visible against her fair and flawless complexion. In a globalised world, one is no longer stereotyped by his or her attire and appearance. The scale of the painting and its polished effect is a testimony to Kow’s conscious artistic endeavours. Kow Leong Kiang stamped his class when he won the highly coveted Grand Prize in the Philip Morris Asean Art Award, the only Malaysian to have done so, in the finals in Vietnam in 1998, with his work called Mr Foreign Speculator, Stop Damaging Our Country, which established him as a major figurative artist. He graduated from the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1991 and showed early promise when he won the Minor Award in the Young Contemporary Artists competition in 1992 and the National Day Art Competition in Kuala Lumpur. He was awarded the Freeman Foundation Asian Artist fellowship for a two-month artist’s residency at the Vermont Studio Centre in the United States in 2004. He held his solo exhibition To The Sea at Ernst and Young Gallery in Singapore in August 2012 under the Asia Outreach Programme. A member of the provocative F Klub, Kow Leong Kiang continues to create sensuous figurative images alongside his peers Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Shia Yih-Yiing, Marvin Chan, Chong Ai Lei, Gan Chin Lee and Chin Kong Yee with an exhibition titled Scent of Bali upon returning from an inspirational trip to Bali in 2013. He also participated in the group show Art@Whiteaways, a special project exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang the same year. The ever-talented artist has explored various nuances of figurative style drawings and paintings including nudes from his Collisions series and most recently his interest in examining the male figure.