‘Kuala Sungai Pinang’.
‘China Street 1’.
Ch'ng Kian Kiean and Datin Ivy Lee view the pieces to be shown in the exhibition opening on Sunday.
‘Small Lane, Carnarvon Street’. Pix by Paul Toh

GEORGE TOWN: ARTIST well-known for the “Line-Line Cerita” series of sketches, Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, 40, is holding his ninth solo exhibition entitled “Sketching Penang”.

The exhibition at The Art Gallery at Belissa Row, here, will open on Sunday and end on Nov 20.

Ch’ng will exhibit about 40 sketches of Penang scenery made in the last two years.

Born and raised in the centre of George Town, he naturally has the inner city close to his own heart.

The places, faces, buildings and scenes that he grew up among will be portrayed in the exhibition.

An architect by profession, Ch’ng appears to have art as the overriding passion in his life.

On weekends, he can be seen leading a group of young artists who call themselves the Urban Sketchers in scouring the inner city for subjects to draw.

“I have a fondness for the streets and cityscapes of George Town, where I spent much of my childhood as my parents were very much a part of the working community there.

“I get nostalgic for my childhood days every time I pass a familiar section of the inner city, and I feel the need to sketch these places on paper before they are lost for forever in the inevitable developments and changes,” he said in an interview with Streets.

“From an architectural perspective, I view the magnetic pull of the edifices, buildings and facades as a desire to keep them alive through my art.”

Ch’ng started his “line-line” journey some 10 years ago and his forte in sketching with Chinese ink has captured the imagination of many art lovers and collectors, as evidenced by the quick sale of his artworks at auctions.

He also has a penchant for using the twigs of a tree in lieu of the conventional brush to create the effect he desires in his sketches.

“I sketch on location all over Penang and usually complete my paintings, including the coloured ones, in one sitting. I shape the twigs to form different tips to give that different tone to my sketches.”

Ch’ng is currently working on bigger pieces and has plans to experiment with abstract painting next.

Gallery owner Datuk Dr Tan Chee Khuan said Ch’ng had added watercolour to some of his sketches to enhance the aesthetics of his works.

“I was impressed by Ch’ng’s work when I first saw them 10 years ago. This solo exhibition is the realisation of a prediction I made then, that I would one day host his exhibition in my gallery.

“I marvel at his ‘quirky’ sketches with lines dancing all over the paper to create intricate and delicate drawings of buildings, especially the Penang heritage buildings.

“He distorts the architecture of the buildings but in the final drawing, the buildings become dramatically alive,” he said.

Tan added that Ch’ng’s work, like Chinese ink painting, left lots of white spaces, which balance the black complexity of the lines.

To make an appointment for a viewing, call Datin Ivy Lee at 017-2266 228 or Tan Ee Lene 012-604 1434.