Painting from the Heart: Soon Lai Wai

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Born in Penang, Soon Lai Wai initially moved to Kuala Lumpur in the early ‘90s to pursue a career in advertising, as a graphic designer. Although he had a background in art education from Saito Academy, where he learned the basic foundation and skills to painting, he started out as a graphic designer.

Another space 2

Many years later, he felt the need to leave the stressful industry, and also felt that his creativity was limited in the field. Having studied Chinese painting, he began combining his knowledge of Oriental strokes and painting style with oils and acrylics.

Soon Lai Wai

A lover of nature, many of his paintings are inspired by the vibrant colours he sees in the lush Malaysian landscape, with its tropical flora and fauna. Upon the advice of his friend and fellow artist Lim Ah Cheng, renowned as a ‘horse painter’, he eventually settled on painting the beautiful lotus flower as his main trademark. The lotus is depicted in various colours, styles, sizes, and types in many of his paintings.

Another space 7

Lai Wai explained, “I chose the lotus as my identity as a painter, because not only do I really love this flower but I believe it has an International theme that resonates with all kinds of people. The lotus is depicted in so many culture and races, from Buddhism to Hinduism, in Chinese culture and Thai culture. While the depictions vary, the lotus is always there. My portrayal of the lotus is quite different from other artists in the sense that it is not a realistic depiction but an interpretation of many things.”

Another space 7

During his career as an artist, Lai Wai has gained recognition for his flawless technique in combining Western oil pants with the traditional watercolour brushstrokes synonymous with Oriental paintings. He has exhibited in countries in the region such as Singapore, Thailand, and China, and made a name for himself for his semi-abstract expressionist paintings.

Feng Yang Hua Gu (Chinese Folk Song)

As a person, Lai Wai is humble and expressive, much like his artworks. He explained that artists are very sensitive people which translate to their paintings. “Painting or other artistic mediums are often a way for the artist to express their feelings in the only way they know how.  My various series is also a reflection of my mood or feelings at the time. There are ‘darker’ series where I used muted colours, that was when I was going through a tough time. Some paintings, you can tell that I was feeling peaceful, or that something was inspiring me to feel peace. Artists are sensitive and we tend to empathise strongly with others and see things in a softer light. This is why I love semi-abstract, because I get to be fluid in my strokes and paint according to my feelings. The rigidity of realist paintings have never been for me.”

Mountain Series 34

What makes Lai Wai’s paintings breathtaking, to me, are the beautiful colours and the way they interact with one another to form a stunning piece. They would liven up any home, office, or blank space with its confident brushstrokes, vivid colours, and fluid motions. Here’s a look at some of his work:

1. Passionate 2

2. Passionate

3. Yi Lian You Meng (Sweet Dream)


4. Silvery Snow

5. Tenderness A

For more information about the artist and his paintings, please e-mail [email protected]

"ExpatGo welcomes and encourages comments, input, and divergent opinions. However, we kindly request that you use suitable language in your comments, and refrain from any sort of personal attack, hate speech, or disparaging rhetoric. Comments not in line with this are subject to removal from the site. "


Click to comment

Most Popular

To Top