We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air by Cheong Kiet Cheng


‘We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air‘ is featured at Wei-Ling Gallery from 18 November – 18 December 2021.


Earlier this year, Wei-Ling Contemporary presented Cheong Kiet Cheng’s fourth solo exhibition, We Are Dreaming and Awake in the Air. In view of the prolonged lockdowns that plagued the country, we have decided to present a curated presentation of the exhibition at our Brickfields place, to allow audiences an opportunity to see the exhibition in the flesh.

Influenced by her voyage, upbringing and everyday life, the show brings together new works that delve deeper into the creation of fictional creatures and narratives that continue to address the artist’s reflections on womanhood and human relationship with nature.

Buddhist myths and beliefs have long been a source of inspiration for Cheong whose artistic practice is centred on spirituality and fiction. Practising drawing as a meditative practice since her stay in Japan for the 2019 UOB-Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Residency Programme, she continues to discover how other cultures connect with spirituality. Some of the paintings in the exhibition depict scenes in North India, where she travelled with her husband and visited two holy sites: Bodh Gaya and the Ganges river. Under the Buddha Tree (2020) depicts imaginary creatures – animals, ghosts and humans – from different dimensions, gathered under the Bodhi Tree. Known as the ‘tree of awakening’, the artist was fascinated by the way it unites and serves people of different genders, races, and origins.

“My mind was broadened and my life became much more colourful because of this trip,” Cheong shares. Upon returning to Malaysia, she focused on finding the right medium to express the tranquility and positivity that the trip left her with, resulting in her latest watercolour paintings. While her earlier works were painted in acrylic, the transparency of watercolour pigments allows her to eloquently translate the sense of peace. Yet, the medium doesn’t fail to surprise her, as its fluidity creates stains and possibilities to be transformed into forms of mythical creatures. In Yin and Yang (2020), the artist presents three characters to introduce the Chinese concept of dualism. Uniting the female sea spirit (Yin) and male mountain spirit (Yang) with the creator of the universe positioned in between, the painting conveys her hope for an equal world while illustrating our interdependence within the ecosystem.

Although Cheong’s works are fantastical in nature, some of her characters correspond to her family members and self. In Loving You (2020), she harnesses self-portraiture, characterising herself as a crocodile-like figure next to her elder daughter. On the artist’s crocodile head are multiple expressions that articulate her struggles of juggling between her personal emotions and keeping her daughter happy. This painting, as with all of her works, shows how her pictorial language is always indirectly related to her inquiries into philosophy, spirituality, womanhood and the environment.

‘We Are Dreaming and Awake In the Air‘ culminates in an explosion of colour, with an array of Cheong’s watercolour paintings and intricate ink drawings that form a web of stories about her life.

Exhibition is open by appointment only.

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