VIBRANT By Tiong Chai Heing

House of MATAHATI 
cordially invites you and your friends to the opening of 

By Tiong Chai Heing
HOM 6th Artist-in-Residence 2010
August 4th,2010 (Wednesday)
at HOM, Ampang

The exhibition will continue until 03 September 2010

Material World
by Huda Nejim Al- Asedi

Artist Tiong Chai Heing likes sculptures and paintings that are “alive” and speak to her. Artworks with a metaphysical or surrealistic tendency. Her own works are thoughts and views about the environment that we live in. In the hot and humid top-floor studio of House of MATAHATI, something is fermenting and cooking. Akin to a bundle shop, heaps of material on the floor are piled up and some are stacked against the wall. Evidence of experimentations and possibilities took over every nook and corner of the given workspace. In the clutter, there are sculptures that look like they are about to move if touched like a mimosa and tell a story.

There is a dress hanging in the closet. A layered black dress that sways in the wind. It seems like no ordinary dress; it belonged to someone and was worn occasionally. You may think that this dress is special as it may hold a memory of an event, an anniversary dinner, or a bad date? Within a fortnight that dress has been pulled, twisted, crumpled and drowned in starch. Moulded and folded into shapes almost unrecognisable to the naked eye, then colours were smeared onto the surface and dabbled, details of a lace edge or hem are picked up with brushwork. The process does not end there, but the transformation is nearly complete. With a bucket of resin, Chai Heing petrifies her creation and another statement is complete. 

Addressing her concerns for the environment and love of nature, an infectious sense of restlessness is prevalent in her search for readaptation and redemption. Manually, she twists and sculpts the fabric. The driven and obsessed young artist from Johor relates to her artworks to personal encounters based on past projects and reserves the same enthusiasm for one of nature’s find: fungi. Like mold attacking the bark of a tree, Chai Heing works non-stop, looking for ideas and techniques to invent an entirely new creation that is organic and could come alive in a fertile ground.

Chai Heing dislikes extravagance. Posh clothes, pretty shoes and intricate laces are nothing dear to hold on to compared to the natural environment. In the twenty first century, the perfect balance of nature is in a fragile state. The way we live; cruising by the urban landscape in our flashy cars with our beeping gadgets have caused us to be blind and deaf to nature’s cry for help. We are all victims of materialism. We buy, collect and hoard things only to end up with  a pile of unnecessary possession. What good does this clutter bring us? The fine line between our wants and needs is constantly drawn towards an overwhelming desire to have more than is actually essential. The equilibrium of our world is in jeopardy because we take Mother Earth for granted. Chai Heing turns our attention back to nature by turning liabilities into assets; trash into treasures. The abstract pieces in the studio are tributes to Mother Earth as signs of respect fused with her aesthetic value.

A once soft and supple material can also stand with impressive pride. Chai Heing’s relief works is three-dimensional and hold a strong statement. The plethora of laces, buttons, beads, sequins, crystals encrusted with impasto coatings of paint with the alternate layerings of old and new fabrics that are mashed together in her artwork, form a complex, mildew-like, visual feast. The strata reflect the depth of human’s negligence towards nature. Each piece an attempt to create beauty out of superfluousness. The rough surface and dark colours alludes to the physicality of something hard such as steel, wood, or even plastic. The fact that it was constructed out of fabric acts as a reminder to us as not to be fooled by the surface of things - beauty is not only canvas deep.

Chai Heing takes bold actions in producing these tributes to nature. She feels a personal attachment to her artworks; to be able to shape them with her own bare hands. Why fabric? Why clothes, you ask? Well, clothes are one the most personal items anyone can have. The way we utilize our possessions reflect who we are; be it our own private belongings or others’. The delicate laces and elaborate prints we choose to wear could be an illustration of our personality, our trade-mark or identity. What we wear tend to define who we are, and vice-versa. But what happens when the clothes are discarded from the body? Chai Heing brings to life these cast offs. Through her creations, she breathes in hope and fresh meanings. When asked about the choice of using fabric, Chai Heing admits her penchant for antique prints and patterned laces. These materials are her favourite tools for vending inspiration. Frozen in time, the artworks are stories captured, fleeting and stuck in motion.

Born in Yong Peng, Johor in year 1986, Tiong Chai Heing was graduated from Dasein Academy or Art Kuala Lumpur in Diploma of Fine Art in year 2008

Tiong Chai Heing has participated in a number of group exhibitions since 2007; the most recent is this year Art Program SASARAN in Kuala Selangor, and Malaysian Vietnamese Contemporary Art Exhibition at Penang Mutiara Gallery in Penang. Last year, she participated in Young & New Part III Exhibition at House of MATAHATI, Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Malaysia Contemporary Art show (IMCAS) at Danga City Mall, Johor Bahru and The Dialogue Of Art Exhibition at Annexe Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

She was the award winner (Charcoal) of Tanjong Heritage Art Competition in Kuala Lumpur back in year 2008. In 2009, Tiong Chai Heing was the Finalist for first Malaysian Emerging Artist Award (MEAA) at Soka Gakkai Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur also Finalist IMCAS Award, Danga City Mall in Johor Bahru.

Chai Heing has been a full time painter since 2007 and she lives and works in Kuala Lumpur.