How to paint like a 5-year-old? Mess or masterpiece?

Lucas in the midst of creating a masterpiece.

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, May 14: Every splatter, drip, or smudge of colour by a child can be simply regarded as a mess, or it can be the dawn of creativity, drawn from the inspiration of unexpected imagination.

Sarawak Artists Society (SAS) president David Chew did not see his 5-year-old son Lucas’ spontaneous waving of the paintbrushes on a canvas as nonsense but as authenticity of art.


Lucas had assisted his father in creating two abstract masterpieces — Sustainability I and Sustainability II — that are now up on display and for sale at the ABSTRACT 2022 Art Show at La Promenade Mall.

“I would do the first layer, then my son comes in and does the second layer. And the next challenge is for me to rectify it in such a way to make it more pleasing to the viewer.

“Then halfway through that, he (Lucas) comes in again and does his thing. So, in and out he goes.

“That’s what I call the communication experience between a father and son over a piece of work,” Chew told DayakDaily at the ABSTRACT 2022 Art Show today.

A capture of Sustainability I by David Chew, completed in 2022.
A capture of Sustainability II by David Chew, completed in 2022.

He also shared a few videos of Lucas being immersed in his own bubble, having fun smearing paint and sometimes with stunts that involve dashing toward the piece to dab colour onto the canvas.

There was plenty of action for an action painting, which Chew himself is an expert in. Lucas is definitely following in his father’s footsteps.

Here’s a note from the artist regarding the two masterpieces:

“This creation is a dialogue between son and father, where the 5-year-old expressed freely with colours in motion. The father responded to complete; maintaining the connection between generations, deep dialogue with feeling, passing down the wisdom and sustain for years and generations to come.”

Chew is one of the rare Abstract Expressionism artists in Sarawak. Since childhood, he was trained by an established artist in Impressionism painting and developed into Abstract Expressionism in 2000.

He uses the drip-and-pour technique and further improvises with other methods and styles, developing into his own unique style, which is rare in the region.

Artist David Chew and his latest work which is on display at La Promenade Mall’s Hoan Gallery.

The ABSTRACT 2022 art show and exhibition also features five other Sarawakian artists, namely Sebastian Jong, Sheila Kho, Joanne Lau, Michelle Liou and Jane Ling.

The exhibition will last until June 5, while two workshops by Chew and Jong, respectively, will take place at the mall on May 21 and 22. — DayakDaily