Hoan Gallery to spotlight Sarawak Fine Arts School founder Chong Liew Syn’s life works

A photograph was taken of Chong's students in an art class at her former Padungan school.

KUCHING, Jan 10: Hoan Gallery will launch the 2024 season with an eight-week art show spotlighting the life’s work of the esteemed late Chong Liew Syn, the founder of the Sarawak Fine Arts School, featuring approximately 60 art pieces, including several previously unrevealed.

The show, titled “Hidden Gems: The Life Works of Chong Liew Syn”, which starts Jan 19 at the gallery at La Promenade Mall, is poised to be a standout event in Sarawak’s cultural calendar this year.

Hoan Gallery’s 2024 season will open with an art show highlighting the life works of Chong Liew Syn, Sarawak Fine Arts School founder.

The late Chong, who passed away in 1999 at age 50, set up the first government accredited art school in Sarawak.

Her institution at Padungan, Kuching, produced numerous luminaries of Sarawak’s present art scene, not to mention a host of VIPs in various fields, from politics to scientific research.

Hoan Gallery’s director Hoan Kee Huang described the upcoming show as “significant” and “likely an emotional reunion for Chong’s loved ones and students”.

“The gallery, with the aid of Hock Seng Lee, has been working on Chong’s show for almost a decade. Chong’s son, Ken Loh, has opened up the family archive and allowed us the privilege to sift through important, never-seen-before works.

“There are real gems, historical and significant to Sarawak’s art scene, that we’ve recovered.

“We found Chong’s art from when she herself was a student in Hong Kong in the 1960s, through to the 1970s, 80s and 90s. We cherrypicked the most beautiful works, which also reveal the transformation of her artistic style over her lifetime,” he said in a media release today.

A artwork by Chong portraying an image of fish and vegetables,
prepared for a meal.

The show collection encompasses the entire career of Chong. There will be watercolours, oil painting and acrylic.

Hoan noted Chong’s still life paintings and landscapes were particularly beautiful.

“Chong art pieces, like herself, are full of warmth, honesty and beauty. She’s a master of shading and light. She’s painted some beautiful sunsets of long disappeared riverine scenes, and the most lovingly captured still life of humble market produce,” said Joan, who has an illustrious career, including invitations to paint portraits of the Agong.

Recovered from Chong’s studio are teaching aids, her old pallets, paint brushes, and past memorabilia like brochures of student’s art shows from decades ago.

Deputy premier Datuk Amar Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is expected to officiate the event, expressed gratitude for the invitation to his late teacher’s first posthumous art show.

“I spent time to learn from her from Form One to Three,” he said.

A photograph captured the moment when her students in the art class at her former Padungan school.

The majority of artworks from the show will be for sale. Their prices range from around RM3,000 to over RM10,000, depending on the medium, size and age.

Last year, Hoan Gallery opened its 2023 season with Alena Murang’s Colours of the Highlands.

A record breaking 36 out of 51 pieces from the show were sold during the eight-week run. Collectors included those from Kuching, Singapore and as far as Spain.

Hoan Gallery’s 2024 season opener is to be followed by an abstract art show by David Chew and artist Joanne Lau’s showcase.

Hoan Gallery opened in 2021 with the “Rebirth” exhibit, featuring 10 Sarawakian art masters.

The works of veterans such as Lee Hock Kia and the late Micheal Chong were highlighted alongside new talents like mural artist Leonard Siaw. The gallery also featured an all-oil painting show by Bong Choo Chew.

For more info, visit, hoangallery.com or search @HoanArtGallery. Updates also available at lapromenademall.com.my and @LaPromenadeMall. — DayakDaily