Ripples: Yap Hong Ngee at 80 – Looking Ahead

A touch of red at the end of the golden-green spiral sparked curiosity in the sparrow and it hopped over to take a closer look. Mr Yap Hong Ngee’s Chinese ink paintings are bright and funny, reflecting his inner child. In conjunction with his 80th birthday, “Ripples: Yap Hong Ngee at 80 – Looking Ahead” was held at the Oriental Art & Cultural Center in Kuala Lumpur from 4th to 12th November 2023, where 138 paintings were put on exhibition, both old friends and new ones were welcomed to meet and exchange views.

Three years ago, the epidemic hit and disrupted our peaceful lives. Mr Yap likened it to a huge stone thrown into the lake of the heart, causing ripples in the form of concentric circles. When he stayed at home in compliance with the movement control order and was bored, he expressed his feelings through his paintbrush, which resulted in a series of works. Later, when he planned this exhibition, he used ripples as the theme to connect three recurring elements in the paintings: stones, sparrows, and flowers.

Mr Yap draws inspiration from trivial things in life, blends personal experience into the paper, and imbues them with deep meaning. Stones symbolize solidity and permanence; sparrows are lively and chirping; flowers and plants symbolize the changing seasons, fragile and fleeting life. The painting that seems to be completed in three or two strokes within moments showcases the artist’s skills accumulated after years of experience. The subjects of the paintings are easy to understand, and the inscriptions are made up of straightforward or inherently funny words, which not only attract the attention of the audience, but also trigger them to think and explore.

Looking at a painting from different perspectives will give you different views. Although Mr Yap has been famous for many years, he has always remained humble and believes that his works do not need to be perfect, just as his conduct in life should be moderate. He does not seek to fill up the picture when he paints, as he believes that there is the possibility of development if there is space, leaving blank spaces for the audience to fill in. In Mr Yap’s opinion, if a painting can attract people to stop and take a second look, reflect on it and make their own assumptions, it is a great piece of work that touches people’s hearts and resonates.

Despite being elderly, Mr Yap still looks forward to the future with a positive attitude. In conjunction with his 80th birthday, this exhibition serves to invite people from all walks of life to celebrate his continuous efforts in art and painting. He set a personal goal to hold at least one art exhibition every year to motivate himself to stay active Having been painting for more than sixty years, Mr Yap has never intended to retire. Even if he can no longer hold a paintbrush, he will find another way to express and present his artwork. Perhaps this is why his paintings always reveal a tenacious vitality and contain strong emotions.

Ripples encircle stones, sparrows and flowers. One after another, color and ink paintings gather the ordinary bits and pieces of life to create meaning. Paintings notwithstanding, Mr Yap Hong Ngee’s excellent advice is “be yourself”. Experience and cherish every moment in order to lead a fulfilling and happy life.

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen


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