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Malaysian Artist Profile: Yap Chew Yee

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Yap Chew Yee – or “Chewy” as she prefers to be called – is an talented artist who creates softly energized paintings of scenes that capture the litheness and beauty of lotus flowers and figures that live in her expansive imagination. One wonderful example is our January cover. It showcases Chewy’s signature ability to create and portray the very activity itself of litheness.

She tells me she has always been attracted by the lotus flower and the power of its beauty.

As a child growing up in her native Kuala Lumpur, she always took keen note of these flowers in particular, as the lotus has a very special place in the hearts of Malaysians but especially within the Chinese culture. The lotus also plays a significant role in Buddhism, which is also central to her interest.

The lotus flower has a profound connection with traditional Chinese culture. The graceful water plant has a large number of affectionate nicknames such as: Chinese Lotus, Lotus Flower, Furong Flower, the Flora of June, Green Lotus or simply Lotus. It is often used to symbolise female beauty, purity and elegance.

Says Chewy, “The Chinese people have appreciated the flower since ancient times as it “rises from dirt without being polluted.” This characteristic is highly respected in traditional Chinese culture. Chinese folklore has many other favourable ways to refer to the lotus. Bing Di Lian, literally “twin lotus flowers on one stalk,” for instance, is often used to represent a devoted married couple. Lian, or Lotus, sounds similar to another Chinese word Lian, which means “clean and pure” and is also used to represent a person with similar characteristics, all of which form the foundation of our culture,” Chewy expands.

The lotus’s importance comes from Buddhism and is one of the eight precious things in Buddhism. The ‘he’ in a woman’s name is a wish that she be pure and respected. The lotus is said to bloom in Beijing on lunar April 8 (the Buddha’s birthday) and lunar January 8 is lotus day.

“The lotus symbolizes purity. And the fruit, the flower, and the stalk represent the past, present and the future,” she tells me.

“I love to examine each petal of the lotus because I see all kinds of stories within each. All are imbued with strong influences of my Chinese background, and I try to give my viewers this experience as I sketch out and then paint them.”

She works primarily in watercolours, oils, and acrylics.

Chewy holds a Diploma in Tourism Management. But like so many artists I have come across since I starting profiling them in 2000, she later returned to her true passion: art. She attended the Kuala Lumpur College of Art for a few years and spent seven years at the Academy of Inspiration taking advanced level comprehensive art courses.

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Chewy and I have selected several other paintings for you to see here. If you are interested in purchasing any of them, she has put discounted prices on each. Just contact me at [email protected] for more information.

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Exhibitions :

2005 : Akademi Inspire 3rd Art Exhibition

2006 : Akademi Inspire 4th Art Exhibition

2007 : Balai Seni Lukis Negara – Exhibition of Painting on Flora ‘Colors of Harmony’

2010 : Galeri Shah Alam – Pameran Terbuka

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Source: The Expat January 2013

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