(03-2013)The Art of Lee Kian Choong

From computers, photography and finally, Chinese ink paintings— Lee Kian Choong’s Unusual Journey in Art.


As a young student in England back in the late 1970s, Lee studied control systems and computer science at the University of Sheffield.  However, purely out of interest, he began a part-time course in photography under the tutorship of late British photographer, Richard Farrand.

In 1982, Lee Kian Choong returned home to Malaysia with a degree in computer science, but he followed his passion and embarked on a career as a professional photographer instead.  He took part in numerous photographic competitions before becoming an associate and later a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1989.

In 2006, Lee obtained a master’s degree in contemporary art practices from the University of Huddersfield and began his artistic endeavors, combining his interests in traditional Chinese culture, ranging from language to the arts and even qigong, with his Western training in creative techniques and sciences. Two years later, Lee gave up his successful Portrait Master Studio in Singapore to devote his energies full time to his artistic career, thus beginning a new chapter of his life at the age of 50.

As a unique Chinese ink painter today, Lee uses the traditional medium of the Chinese brush, ink and colors on rice paper to create contemporary works with modern abstract themes and innovative painting techniques.  His beautiful ink work is all evident in this exhibition of his recent works at Hao Zhen Gallery.

At first glance, you will be attracted by the riot of colors within the paintings. Yet upon closer view, you will see the artist’s view of the world—past, present and also beyond, as his imagination brings you to his musings on outer space.  The paintings are mainly devoted to three themes: Childhood Memories of a Malaysian Village; the Essence and Resilience of Life; and Reveries of the Universe.

The power of his works lies in how they draw you into them and provoke your own imagination and emotive response.  Every work tells a story; with careful attention you may discover an incident from his childhood, an illustration of the origins of life, or simply the artist’s whimsical mind travels in outer space.