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Ben Chong - Malaysia’s most promising young figurative painter
March 16, 2020

Inspired by his son Owen Chong, contemporary artist Ben Chong shares some insights on his latest work, The Autism Series

Q- Can you elaborate on why the topic of autism is close to your heart, leading up to this instalment?

A:- All my inspirations come from my son Owen, he has mild autism, but he is unique, amazing, compassionate and caring. He doesn’t understand where he fits in socially and doesn’t converse much. But, he is like all of us, he may not be set in his mind, but in his heart. Owen learned to paint when he was 9 years old, guided by a French teacher. In 2016, he was invited by UNESCO Paris to showcase his works. I felt so proud of him and from that day onwards, I decided to start my Autism series in order to show people the world of autism and to drive more and more awarenesses.

Q- How does art communicate differently with the autistic community?

A:- We are always trying to find a perfect person, but only by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Do we really communicate? Life favours those see things differently, I think of my son whenever I start waiting and sometimes I would take time to observe his behavior and speech that sparks an idea. Autistic kids are so unique. They get to experience the world in a very different way. They can see the wind, hear the bees singing in the park and feel incredible emotions flowing from the people who care for them. Most people don’t understand them. In fact, they have feelings and emotions. They do think and, they just express them in a different manner.

Q- How has this series changed your outlook in life?

A :-I used to paint to please people, but now I paint because I enjoy it and through my painting to express my feelings and thoughts. I learned that life is not about me, but inclusive of all the people around me, that is how you source your life to be better, different and meaningful. It is amazing how much art pieces have influenced and passed the positive energy to the autistic community and the society. In 2017, I sold about 80 percent of my Autism series, aimed at “inspiring, compassion and acceptance” within the community. I hope that through my paintings, the viewers both affected and not touched by autism can gain keen sense of awareness, acceptance , compassion and love .

Q- What is your favourite piece in this instalment and why?

A:- “Self-harm “. It is inspired by my son’s classmate. It was the first piece of my Autism series in 2017. I saw my son’s classmate wearing a helmet in classroom.  Out of curiosity, I asked teacher. It was due to the child frustration and ill emotion, which causes him to bang his head against the wall. The helmet is to protect him from self-inflicted harm. And only when you know, it stops becoming silly.

Self harm / Autism Series, Ben Chong, acrylic on canvas, 5ftx5ft, 2017
Image courtesy Ben Chong and The Art People Gallery

 

Fate / Autism Series , acrylic on canvas, 4ftx4ft, 2019
Image courtesy Ben Chong and The Art People Gallery

 

Dyslexia / Autism Series, acrylic on canvas, 3.5ft x 4ft, 2018
Image courtesy Ben Chong and The Art People Gallery

An upcoming figurative painter who works with expressive force, Ben Chong is a contemporary artist who works across design, and Fine art painting from his base in Kuala Lumpur. He graduated from the Malaysia Institution of Art and has participated in numerous open and group art exhibitions in Malaysia and Overseas. He finds his inspiration through nature, recently his works has focused especailly on the unique aspects of human nature with a desire to inspire in the community a love of the indivual. His special focus is on people with special needs such as Autism. 


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