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Exotic Sunlight: Paintings by Ong Kim Seng

Exotic Sunlight: Paintings by Ong Kim Seng features over 30 watercolour scenes by the Singapore watercolour maestro, with the biggest piece measuring 1.8 x 1.3m in size.

A self-taught artist who turned full-time in 1985, Ong Kim Seng is an avid traveller who has sojourned across different states and continents in his attempt to encounter and capture in his paintings, the awe-inspiring beauty of Mother Nature and the diverse cultures that exist in various environments. With this exhibition, the artist walks us through a series of masterfully-rendered landscapes that include Singapore’s Old Chinatown, Nepal’s Kathmandu, Italy’s Portofino, China’s Xin Yuan and Bali’s Ubud. Exhibiting fluid brushwork and efficiency of detail, Kim Seng’s watercolour landscapes are remarkable for their lyrical expressiveness and poetic balance between light and shade.

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Ong Kim Seng Will Never Retire from Painting

Falling in love with your job is easy, but staying in love with it is no easy feat. Hat tip to Ong Kim Seng for managing to do so for the past 30 years.

His artistic journey was far from smooth. Having lost his father at a young age, his mother was a pillar of support, but they did not see eye-to-eye with regard to his passion for art. Many a time, Ong had to paint on the sly, either at his friends’ homes or on newspapers. Despite the odds that were stacked against him, the self-taught artist stayed true to his unyielding passion and vision. To him, Art is a continuous journey. There may be pitfalls and times where you get stuck. It is up to one to choose a path and go along with it.”

Today, he is undeniably one of Singapore’s most prolific watercolourists. Accolades aside, he placed Singapore on the world map by being the only Asian artist residing outside of US to be admitted to the American Waterlour Society (‘AWS’).

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A moment with … watercolour master, Ong Kim Seng

The only Asian artist outside the United States admitted into the American Watercolour Society

A mere kampong boy in an atap house, Ong Kim Seng had no idea he would one day become one of Singapore’s most prominent artistic icons and watercolour masters. Staying true to his subject matter and medium of choice, his paintings have already gained recognition both locally and internationally.

A former advertising apprentice, policeman, industrial welder and audio-visual technician, Ong Kim Seng’s journey is no less remarkable, especially without any formal training.

As part of Ode to Art’s new series of intimate tea sessions that allow the public to get closer to artists and their stories, we spoke with Ong Kim Seng about his artistic style, influences and perspectives on the development of our tiny red dot:

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Watercolourist Ong Kim Seng has a new solo show in Malaysia

Veteran Singaporean artist Ong Kim Seng takes viewers around some of his favourite South-East Asian places in his latest exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

One aspect of art is capturing moments, preserving the essence of a time forever, according to veteran Singaporean watercolour artist Ong Kim Seng.

Taking me around the gallery in Kuala Lumpur where he’s holding an exhibition, Ong pauses momentarily before a work from 2012, a row of shophouses in Singapore’s Little India, recalling how he had to sit on the opposite side of the road to capture the right angle.

“Many of these type of houses in Singapore now have been renovated in full. They’ve lost their feel of the past. These, however, still maintain their ambiance. You can still see them today,” Ong says.

“Some of the areas around us are slowly changing. So before they actually change, why not capture them?”

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