This exhibition of Cheung Pooi Yip’s work is in memory of him, as he sadly passed away earlier this year in his home town of Sungai Petani, Kedah. He was well known amongst established Malaysian artists for many reasons, but mostly because of his humble and dedicated approach to his art. Eager to learn, Cheung Pooi Yip developed a high skill level in a range of media, establishing a strong visual language built up from layers and directional lines as he portrayed stylized expressions of his own experiences. Cheung Pooi Yip had his first solo show in Penang in 1981, and went on to exhibit internationally in China, Jordan, and Singapore as well as Malaysia.
Cheung Pooi Yip had a strong understanding of colour, and how colours can work together to create a certain ambience or describe a time of day or location. When walking into this show one is struck instantly by the essence of reality within his work (particularly the rainy urbanscapes), but they are done in his own stylized way. The European images are stark in contrast to the colours exhibited in the Malaysian-based paintings, and each painting has its own light and colour identity strong within it. He seemed to start each work with a layer of dark, then a layer of stark white, topped off with a wash of colour. These white sections were scribbled on to create directional texture, emphasizing expression over realism. As a great lover of black lines, I thoroughly enjoyed this layering, and in his figurative paintings this combined with his use of proportion and shape, it felt like Mose Tolliver and the Ernst Kirchner had combined their skills. In his urbanscapes there was a heavy presence of vertical and horizontal line within the directional texture, which emphasizes the inorganic buildings in contrast with the organic figures.
My favourite piece was actually a slightly more abstracted piece called “Blue Trishaw” in the back room, as I felt the colours and shapes worked incredibly well together. The artwork was not the cheapest with most pieces costing around RM18,000 but for an art collector, this is well worth the price.
Galeri Seni Mutiara is a small local gallery that exhibits different artists every month. Owner Mr Koay Soo Kau endeavours to encourage appreciation and love of art, and both he and the gallery are well known in the Penang art scene. They are open every day from 11am-6pm and are located on Armenian Street, just opposite the park. This exhibition is open until the 31st December 2019.
By Lusy Koror