Tiong Chai Heing Solo Exhibition @ Suma Orientalis

As published in The Star Online on 28 May 2019


Contemporary artist Tiong Chai Heing has always been fascinated with the life cycle … of oil palm trees. It’s a peculiar choice. However, the 33-year-old has a backstory behind this fascination.

She spent her childhood in an oil palm estate in Yong Peng, a small town in Johor. Her father was a plantation operator.

The shrivelling palm leaves, the surrounding overgrowth and an entire (estate life) ecosystem that often times goes unnoticed have been part of Tiong’s artistic inspiration.

For her, the fallen oil palm leaves capture the very idea of life and death. Tiong has gone on to produce an entire series of works based on her experiences of growing up in an estate. Her latest solo exhibit Impermanence Is The Antidote Of Frailness keeps close to this theme.

The exhibit, featuring nine artworks, is currently showing at Petaling Jaya-based gallery Suma Orientalis.

Impermanence is Tiong’s second solo exhibition, which comes nearly 10 years after her solo debut, which was part of a residency at Hom Art Trans in 2010. She also participated in group exhibitions such as Pameran 101 Di Mana Young (2017), The Contemporary Propulsion-Influence And Evolution (2015) and A Meter Diameter Show (2013).

In 2015, she won the top prize in the Established Artist category in United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd’s (UOB Malaysia) annual Painting of the Year competition for her charcoal pastel and watercolour painting titled Stifling.

Over the years, her art has been increasingly informed by environmental issues, especially deforestation, and the delicate balance between man and nature.

“No matter how well a tree has grown or how successful we are, there will be a day when all our worldly concerns cease to matter anymore. That is when life ends,” says Tiong, a graduate from Dasein Academy of Art in KL.

Read more at https://www.star2.com/culture/2019/05/28/exhibition-tiong-chai-heing-suma-orientalis/#orpGXLGajp0wQSAG.99