Artist Lisa Wong Sook Kuan on life under coronavirus quarantine in Malaysia.
April 15, 2020

An article written by artist Lisa Wong Sook Kuan for The Art People Gallery

I remember very clearly, trying to trudge up five floors of the Hong Kong Convention Center, with 6 torso-sized paintings in tow with fellow artist Ben Chong, searching hard for the exhibition hall the Affordable Art Fair had been allocated. We had just got off the plane a few hours earlier, and now it was time to set up our booth. After 30 minutes of what I would classify as a workout in weights, we finally arrived at the correct hall. Straightaway, it was down to business. Hammering, curating, searching for a viable source of drinking water; this is all something that I had become accustomed to over the span of time I had been displaying my work. Often, I look back on these experiences I have accumulated and think about how fortunate I have been, a young Malaysian female artist, to have experienced the privilege of displaying my work internationally. But more importantly, I what I want is for more focus to be placed on the talented women who contribute to the Malaysian creative industry, and for our art to receive the adulation that it deserves.

Growing up in Malaysia made it incredibly easy to take the tropical landscape for granted.  In my youth, I saw it as bothersome and humid. Little-by-little, the patches of overgrown jungle was razed down to red mud, and then built up to skyscrapers. The mini-forests along the highways I passed as a child were thinned out and began to take on an almost sickly demeanor. However, when I returned home, I would find myself sitting in the garden; the sunlight sharpening the blades of grass, dragonflies adding splashes of red to the overwhelming green. It was respite from whatever the day had brought on. But for whatever reason, when the sun had set, it seemed as if there was added enigma to it.

The voluminous dark of the night, I find, translates wonderfully onto the canvas. I began this journey into the unknown with the painting View from My Garden, an almost multiple-perspective view into my own literal backyard. I find myself focusing in on certain patterns in the foliage in my peripheral, often subconsciously committing it to memory. With these fragments lodged firmly into my mind, I create my own mythical version of an existing space. The same can be said of Small Ornament, which is an overlapping of a heighted version of my garden and a small wooden ornament I own, now made an explorer of the night. Through this, the mundane and the magic are merged on the canvas as one.

It is especially, trying times such as these, that I now value art all the more. Under government ordained closures, people are more likely to turn to movies, games, and social media; all of which mean that the consumption of art and design is at an all time high. In a sense, it is clear to me that as a species, we need art for survival. For me personally, this time period has given me the space to reflect on what I can create. My recent work reflects a different perspective of my own garden, inspired heavily by my nighttime walks with my dog. It is within that enclosed, personal, space that I draw the ideas of magic realism from the ordinary: from the occasional swooping of a bat, to the cry of cicadas chorusing in the abyss of the dark. In the obscurity of the night, the magic happens, even if it does take place in such familiar surroundings.

The Art People Gallery is proud to showcase “Nighttime Spells” – An online exclusive art exhibition on Artsy by Lisa Wong Sook Kuan on 5th May – 5th June 2020. 

Small Ornament | 122cm x 91.5cm | 2020 Small Ornament | 122cm x 91.5cm | 2020

View from My Garden | 61cm x 76cm | 2020


About the Artist
Lisa Wong Sook Kuan is a Malaysian artist who developed her practice while attending California College of the Art in San Francisco where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. Lisa has always been drawn to images that champion one’s personal truths and strives to represent elegance, the imperfect and the fleeting in her artworks.

Lisa works are often ornate, surrealistic, and are a depiction of different emotive states inspired by the complexities of human nature. Her work spans from intricate ink pieces to brightly-hued acrylic creations. Each work tells a story of the human condition through a means of anthropomorphism and the natural world. Her artistic inspiration is drawn from the likes of Takato Yamamoto, James Jean, and Chinese traditional painting. Occasionally, she also ventures into classical art, utilizing graphite, oil paint and charcoal.

Lisa has exhibited her work globally in Spain and USA with her recent exhibitions with The Art People Gallery in Hong Kong and Malaysia.


To enquire on Lisa's work, please contact for more information.


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