We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air

Wei-Ling Contemporary presents Cheong Kiet Cheng’s fourth solo exhibition, We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air. Influenced by her voyage, upbringing and everyday life, the show brings together new works that delve deeper into the creation of fictional creatures and narratives that continue to address the artist’s reflections on womanhood and human relationship with nature.

Buddhist myths and beliefs have long been a source of inspiration for Cheong whose artistic practice is centred on spirituality and fiction. Practising drawing as a meditative practice since her stay in Japan for the 2019 UOB-Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Residency Programme, she continues to discover how other cultures connect with spirituality. Some of the paintings in the exhibition depict scenes in North India, where she travelled with her husband and visited two holy sites: Bodh Gaya and the Ganges river. Under the Buddha Tree (2020) depicts imaginary creatures – animals, ghosts and humans – from different dimensions, gathered under the Bodhi Tree. Known as the ‘tree of awakening’, the artist was fascinated by the way it unites and serves people of different genders, races, and origins.

My mind was broadened and my life became much more colourful because of this trip,” Cheong shares. Upon returning to Malaysia, she focused on finding the right medium to express the tranquility and positivity that the trip left her with, resulting in her latest watercolour paintings. While her earlier works were painted in acrylic, the transparency of watercolour pigments allows her to eloquently translate the sense of peace. Yet, the medium doesn’t fail to surprise her, as its fluidity creates stains and possibilities to be transformed into forms of mythical creatures. In Yin and Yang (2020), the artist presents three characters to introduce the Chinese concept of dualism. Uniting the female sea spirit (Yin) and male mountain spirit (Yang) with the creator of the universe positioned in between, the painting conveys her hope for an equal world while illustrating our interdependence within the ecosystem.

Although Cheong’s works are fantastical in nature, some of her characters correspond to her family members and self. In Loving You (2020), she harnesses self-portraiture, characterising herself as a crocodile-like figure next to her elder daughter. On the artist’s crocodile head are multiple expressions that articulate her struggles of juggling between her personal emotions and keeping her daughter happy. This painting, as with all of her works, shows how her pictorial language is always indirectly related to her inquiries into philosophy, spirituality, womanhood and the environment.

We Are Dreaming and Awake in the Air culminates in an explosion of colour, with an array of Cheong’s watercolour paintings and intricate ink drawings that form a web of stories about her life.

‘We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air‘ will be featured physically at Wei-Ling Contemporary once the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been lifted. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our gallery team for an e-catalogue.

Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at RT01, Sixth Floor, The Gardens Mall, 59200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11am-7pm.

For appointments and further assistance, please contact +60322828323 or email: weilinggallery.amanda@gmail.com.

About Cheong Kiet Cheng (B. 1981)

Cheong Kiet Cheng has won several major awards and prizes over the years, including the main prize at the 2018 UOB Painting of the Year (Malaysia) competition; Creative M50 Awards in Shanghai, China (2016); Nanjing International Art Festival Competition in China (2015); Water Color Category at Tanjong Public Limited Company, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2006). She was also the recipient of the esteemed UOB-Fukuoka Asian Art Museum’s Artists Residency Programme in 2018, where she spent two months expanding on her practice in Japan. She has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions both within Asia and in Malaysia. Her last solo exhibition ‘Dust and the Silence in the Sun’, was held at Wei-Ling Contemporary, Kuala Lumpur (2019).