Artist Profile: Yuen Chee Ling

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This post was written by Marybeth Ramey

With great pleasure, please allow me to introduce Yuen Chee Ling, who graces our August cover. As one of Malaysia’s most famous artists as well as an internationally acclaimed one, she is a very interesting ground breaker on many fronts.

Ms Yuen was born in Penang in 1950 and started oil painting at the age of 13. She was awarded a prestigious scholarship by the Malaysian Ministry of Culture for Creative Art to attend USM where she was a University Scholar. In 1983 she was bestowed the BFA from University of Philippines, and then subsequently an MFA (1986). She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at USM.

Not only is she a highly educated scholar and a widely renowned expert on several genres of art, she possesses tremendous talent and skill as a composition artist. In 1991, she developed a figurative style of her own which reflected the unique characteristics and spiritual essence of the Pan-Asian woman. Her recent nyonya series is a salute to the memory of old Penang, and the day-to-day life of the nyonyas is delightfully related to her own childhood experiences.

“Painting is a form of contemplation about life and existence,” says Yuen. “After the Japanese tsunami, the devastating earthquakes in Indonesia, Japan and Haiti as well as the Bali bombings, the colours and the subject matter of my paintings changed. I only realised this when I noticed that I was instinctively using a black colour as the background for ‘Self Portrait 2006’. Black reminds me of the stillness of a starless night, when one’s mind is stretching out like arms to embrace the infinite world of empty vastness.”

She continues, “My recent paintings ‘Buddha’s Mother’, ‘Praying’, ‘Adoration and Belief’ all have a religious overtone. My intention is to reflect humanity, love and peace. To delineate female faces that reflect beauty and innocence is a personal way to celebrate the joy of life and existence… to me, beauty and art are timeless and interchangeable.”

Yuen is the Founder of the International Women Artists Associations Council: an international network of women artists groups dedicated to promoting women’s art. As such, Yuen’s ‘Her Presence in Colours’: International Women Artists Exhibition Series I-VI has been held in Beijing, Penang, Bangkok, KL, Sheffield (UK), and Melbourne.

Yuen has a record nine publications to her credit. Her paintings and a biography were printed in countless publications, including Achievements of World Chinese Artists, and 20th Century Women Artists (1996). With over 100 major articles about her published in local and international newspapers, magazines and art catalogues (including The Star, New Straits Times, Wings of Gold, Art Corridor, The Edge, Her World, and Tatler), she is as well-known as she is beloved by Malaysians. Her many TV interviews include Beijing TV as well as talk shows in Canada, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Museum and public collections of her works include Esso Art collection, University Sains Malaysia Museum Bangkok Metro Bank, Crontline Bank in Denmark, the Cultural Foundatiaon Centre in Abu Dhabi (UAE), and Malaysia’s own National Art Gallery.

I think her signature female faces are brilliantly unique and quite telling in their expressions. Elegance and grace emanate from each lady, and the viewer gets the immediate impression that there are many stories these women could tell. The fluidity of Yuen’s figures confirms her talent and skill, and her keen and judicious eye for stunning pigments of colour allow her to create particularly beautiful and wondrous paintings for all to enjoy.


If you are interested in purchasing any of the paintings shown here, please contact me at [email protected]

Read more: The Artist Profile of Lai Wai Soon

Source: The Expat August 2012
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