heading contemplating colours shapes and the dimension beyond

 
Introduction

This essay is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of Dr Choong Kam Kow’s (born 1934, Malaysia) life works to date. Instead, in conjunction with his Retrospective exhibition at the Malaysia’s Balai Seni Visual Negara, it focuses mainly on his New York Series, Shape Canvas Series and SEA-Thru Series that he produced between 1965 and 1975 in America and Malaysia.

Before discussing Dr Choong’s series of works, the text traced the root and provides a historical overview of the origination of abstraction movement that began in Europe in the beginning of the 20th Century before it spread to America during the World War II (erupted in Europe in 1939). Uninspired by the work of the Expressionists that gained popularity in the early 20th Century, Abstract Expressionism rose and developed into Warm Abstraction (Figure 1) and Cold Abstraction (Figure 2) in America. Warm Abstraction associates with Jackson Pollock’s (1912 - 1956) “gestural” tradition and Cold Abstraction refers to as Geometric Abstraction that expanded the Kazimir Malevich (1879 - 1935) and Piet Mondrian’s (1872 - 1944) traditions. Geometric Abstraction developed into a few schools namely Hard Edge, Shaped Canvas and Minimalism.

Exploring the historical background of Geometric Abstraction, Hard Edge, Shaped Canvas and Minimalism is crucial in this essay because of the impact they had on Dr Choong’s works when he arrived in New York in 1965. Being educated in America and given an opportunity to work there is the major turning point for Dr Choong’s art career. It had a tremendous impact on his subsequent studio practice and his mission as an art educator, not to mention the far reaching effect on his life.

The beginning of abstraction in Europe

Dr Choong’s New York Series, Shaped Canvas Series and SEA-Thru Series can trace its roots to the European and American 20th Century art-making in connection with the transformation of the artistic scene prior to the First World War (28 July 1914 - 11 November 1918). It was the Expressionist wave prior to the succession of the American Abstract Expressionism that drew us back to Wassily Kandinsky’s (1866 - 1944) generation.

The first half of the 20th Century art scene in Europe seemed to turn away from representational art or art that depicts real world objects. Artists were imparted with new interest to experiment with ‘abstract painting’ when George Braque (1882 - 1963) and Picasso (1881 - 1973) introduced the ‘structural’ concept of Cubism in 1907. Cubism abandoned the idea of producing ‘impression’ of the Nature and expanded Paul Cezanne’s (1839 - 1906) tradition in exploring multiple viewpoints in order to pursue ‘structures’ through the use of cylinder, sphere and cone shapes. The Cubism movement, which subverted the tradition of painting the impression of the visual world, can be divided into two phases. The first phase was the Analytical Cubism where it presented a ‘total experience’ by showing two or more viewpoints or perspectives of a same subject on a single canvas. Synthetic Cubism was the second phase where Found materials were collaged or arranged with the paintwork on a flat surface to create a motif that became the subject rather than reflecting some actual subjects. Russia was one of the primary breeding grounds of pure ‘abstraction’ following the development of Cubism painting. It appears that the first artist who, in 1911”, exhibited a [watercolour] painting without any recognizable object” (Figure 3) which later came to be known as ‘abstract art’ was the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky who lived in Munich, Germany at that time. Wassily Kandinsky’s abstraction grew out of Paul Cezanne’s tradition and attempted to create new kind of painting that challenges music through visual expression. He discussed how classical music composition had influenced his work as well as the connection between art and spirituality at length in his essay Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

Kazimir Malevich from Russia and Dutchman Piet Mondrian were two other important painters who also embraced ‘non-figurative’ approach in their paintings. In the style he termed ‘Suprematism’, Kazimir Malevich placed a black square on a white canvas (Figure 4) in 1915 to remove painting from the ideological function of representation, and the painting was later served as the historical pole for Minimalism. Kazimir Malevich claimed that his paintings “have nothing further to do with the object as such, and believes that it can exist, in and for itself, without things”. For Piet Mondrian, the influence of Cubism was an immediate apparent in his paintings when he moved to Paris in 1911. Paintings such as The Sea (1912) (Figure 5) and his various studies of trees from the same year (Figure 4) were increasingly leaning toward abstraction.

Piet Mondrian was deeply influenced by Van der Leck (1876 - 1958) on the use of primary colours when he visited his home in Holland in 1914. He returned to France again when the war ended in 1918, and a more simplified abstract style that restricted to a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines and three primary colours on a white ground was gradually emerging and he named that as ‘Neo-Plasticism’. Piet Mondrian moved to New York in 1940 where he began to develop a more colourful style with coloured lines and syncopated rhythms approach. Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract canvases were like a wakeup call to his contemporaries where any representational subject matter in a painting would somehow seem traditional and dated. Similarly, Kazimir Malevich’s works removed from the ideological function of representation, while Piet Mondrian was intended to use abstraction to convey an ‘absolute reality’ using basic vertical-horizontal lines and colours, construed as the world of pure geometric forms underlying all existence. Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian aroused great interest among their contemporaries to adopt basic geometric shapes, vertical-horizontal lines and even colours to be used in their canvases. Their non-objective attitudes that do not seek to represent anything in the natural world were branded as ‘Abstract Geometric’. Throughout the 20 Century art historical discourse, critics and artists working within the pure abstraction tradition have often suggested that Geometric Abstraction represents the height of nonobjective art practice.

Abstract art moved to America

With the outbreak of World War II in Europe (3 September 1939 - 8 May 1945), some of the so-called Abstract Geometric artists moved to America and the focus of abstract painting shifted to New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art suggested that “With the arrival of the Europeans Josef Albers (in 1933) and Piet Mondrian (in 1940), and such major events as the exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art (1936), organised by the Museum of Modern Art, and the creation of the Museum of NonObjective Art (1939, now the Guggenheim), the geometric tradition… reached younger generations of artists, most directly affecting the Minimalist art of the 1960’s, which used pure geometric form, stripped to its austere essentials, as the primary language of expression”.

Josef Albers (1888 - 1976), who was a German, immigrated to America in 1933 and became the head of the art department for Black Mountain College in the same year. Josef Albers’s work, which was influenced by the Constructivists and the Bauhaus movement, represents a transition between traditional European art and American art. American ‘Hard Edge’ abstract painters influenced by his use of shapes, patterns and intense colours while conceptual artists explored his idea in perception further. The term ‘Hard Edge’ was coined by art historian Jules Langsner along with Peter Selz in 1959 to characterise the nonfigurative work of four artists from California featured in an exhibition called Four Abstract Classicists at the San Francisco Museum of Art and Los Angeles County Museum. “The term then gained broader currency after British critic Lawrence Alloway used it to describe contemporary American geometric abstract painting featuring an “economy of form”, “fullness of color”, “neatness of surface”, and the non-relational, all over arrangement of forms on the canvas”. Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923) 4 , Alexander Liberman (1912 - 1999), Kenneth Noland (1924 - 2010), Ad Reinhardt (1913 - 1967), and Jack Youngerman (b. 1926) are some of the artists associated with Hard Edge painting style.

Geometric Abstraction refers back to the work of Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers, the energy of the painting style carried forward by a newly formed American Abstract Artists Group (formed in 1937) that included members such as Burgoyne Diller and Ilya Bolotowsky. During the 1960’s, some of the American artists were striving to create something new and exciting by the emergence of Geometric Abstraction, and coincidentally this is also a period when Dr Choong set foot in New York to further his artistic exploration.

Arrival of Dr Choong in New York

With his passion in art and yearning for overseas exposure, Dr Choong applied for the Fulbright Scholarship at the Malaysian-American Committee on Educational Exchange (MACEE) in 1964 and received it to further his studies in art in New York the following year. He enrolled in Pratt Institute in 1965 and completed his part-time Master degree course in two-and-a-half years. During the same period he was offered a full-time position to work as the Head of the Art Department for the United Nations International School in New York.

During the 1960’s, many artists in America began to react against the emotive Abstract Expressionist movement. They sought to create an art that was divorced from Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning’s emotional gestures. ‘Minimalism’ was a term that began to gain currency during that period and it was also the time when Dr Choong arrived in New York. He was caught at the height of Geometric Abstraction and the shifting current of art from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism and Conceptualism. The works of the Minimalists and Conceptual artists from the 1960’s and 1970’s consist of basic geometric forms. Donald Judd (1928 - 1994), Carl Andre (b. 1935), Frank Stella (b. 1936) and Sol LeWitt (1928 - 2007) are considered the major figures within this movement. They sought to “eliminate any kind of reference to the outside world in order to create works that referred only to themselves”.

The term ‘Minimalism’ was first used by David Burlyuk in an exhibition catalogue for an exhibition of John Graham at the Dudensing Gallery in New York in 1929. David Burlyuk wrote, “Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic — the subject being the painting itself”. 6 Minimalism artists in America extended the geometric tradition of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers. Minimalists rejected the need for a subject and emotion in art and wished to strip art to its barest and most simplified. They expanded their works into threedimensional that was characterised by plain geometric configurations and industrially processed materials. While the roots of Conceptualism tied to Minimalism, it was conceived out of a wish to explore art at its most fundamental, shifting traditional methods and materials toward less concrete forms and objects. Minimalism and Conceptualism were described by Lucy R. Lipprd and John Chandler in 1968 as being the art movement that “dematerialised” art, in which artists committed to long lasting materials and forms is unnecessary. Conceptualism emphasised on the idea behind an artwork rather than the art object that was produced.

One would wonder how Dr Choong, a young Malaysian Chinese painter who was so used to the Chinese traditional art and conventional Western art, responded to the shifting change from Abstract Expressionism to Geometric Abstraction, Minimalism and Conceptualism when he arrived in New York. What was the chemical reaction between his rural Perak’s background and New York City that gave him a cultural shock?

The New York Series

Produced between 1965 and 1968 during his time in New York, Dr Choong’s New York Series reflects his reaction towards the metropolitan New York City in relation to his rural homeland in Ipoh, Malaysia where tin-mining and agriculture were the main sources of income. It was also the place he spent his childhood days. The New York Series contains some 20 paintings in oils and prints of which five of them will be on displayed at his Retrospective exhibition 7 (Figure 7 to 9). These canvases present vibrant colours, geometric shapes as well as free and organic gestural forms that mixed with sands to form textured impasto. The organic forms interplayed with colours, orderly round and rectangular shapes to create tension and coexistence.

The elements between the calm and slow pace against the fast and hectic coexist in these pieces as if Time Square meets Central Park in New York. Spread across 843 acres of land, Central Park is an urban park in rectangular shape nestled in the busy and chaotic concrete jungle of New York City. A stone’s throw away is the Time Square that is known as the “crossroad of the world”, it is one of the world’s busiest pedestrians and commercial intersections. There create a contrast as well as complementing each other in a single space as if the elements of Nature and rigid form found in the canvases of Dr Choong’s New York Series.

Dr Choong showed his passion and interest in both Oriental and Western art in early stage of his artistic career. “With my interest in Chinese Art, culture and Western art, there were only two places at that time that I could go to - Singapore or Taiwan, so I decided to go to Taiwan in late 1957 to take up fine art studies as I could study both Oriental and Western art there”, said Dr Choong. He graduated from the art department of the National Taiwan Normal University in 1961. Prior to the New York Series, it was a period of exploring, experimenting and searching for Dr Choong with Eastern and Western art practices through his Kinta Series (1950s - 1960s). In a series of paintings (Figures 10 to 12) that include villages, mountains and tin mines, he employed his Chinese ink- painting and watercolour skills that were inspired by some of the Malaysian and Taiwanese artists such as Cheong Soo-Pieng, Ma Baishui, Abdullah Ariff and Yong Mun Sen. The influences of Post-Impressionism and Expressionism from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903), Paul Cezanne, Franz Marc (1880 - 1916) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 - 1938) were also subtly apparent in the works.

The 1950’s was a time of uncertainty, loss and confusion in the West immediately after the World War II. Uninspired by their own culture, Western artists looked externally to the East for answers and inspirations. They were aware that the East had different worldviews. That was an era when one could find the philosophy, working methods and abstract works of a number of Western artists interact with those of the Japanese and Chinese artists and Zen masters. It was a period where a number of Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism artists including Mark Tobey (1890 - 1967), Barnett Newman (1905 - 1970), Franz Kline (1910 - 1962), Ad Reinhardt (1913 - 1967) and Pierre Alechinsky (b. 1927) produced works that resembled those from the East and vice versa. Dr Choong’s works during this period suggest the implementation of his sensitivity towards Western and Eastern arts and cultures and the possible outcome of the interaction and hybridisation between the two. As suggested by Dr Michael Tucker his work is “deeply rooted in his own Eastern traditions of culture and spirituality, with the ancient Chinese traditions of (socially-oriented and ordered) Confucianism and (Nature-oriented and organic) Taoism infusing the yinyang marrow of his work… [He] is at the same time keenly aware of major developments in Western art, especially of the last century or so”.

Dr Choong’s New York Series embraced the gestural tradition of Chinese calligraphy, expressive quality of Abstract Expressionism and the Geometric Abstraction of Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich. It can be studied alongside Hans Hofmann’s late paintings between 1958 and 1966 that engaged in the interaction between loose gestures and precise geometric forms. Dr Choong’s sentiment and memory about his hometown combined with the blockish, rigidness and yet colourful quality of the new city life gave expression in his canvases. As suggested by Cheryl A. Crews, Dr Choong “began juxtaposing geometric and organic forces in a single canvas. Organic situations are presented in free brushstrokes relating to Nature in their form and coarse surface qualities, while man-made objects are simplified into hard-edge, angular shapes”. His awareness of his own culture and identity leads him to make comparison and see the self in connection with his experience in the Western world. The new environment transformed him gradually and the new self continued to evolve in the process.

The New York Series not only presented his reverence for the Nature but also his sensitivity in colour, textures and shape that are sophisticated, earthen and organic. These pieces may be considered as an entrée to Dr Choong’s abstraction that gave birth to his subsequent Shaped Canvas and SEA-Thru Series.

Shaped Canvas Series

Dr Choong created the Shaped Canvas Series (Figures 13 to 16) between 1969 and 1972 that corresponded to the call of science and technological progress and development in his own country. The series emphasised on colour and shape but gestural marks were deliberately eliminated. It departed from the normal flat and rectangular configuration of a conventional painting. Dr Choong’s Shaped Canvas was interested in the subjective experience of colour, the effects that adjacent colours have on one another, and the illusion of colour on twodimensional surface coming forward or moving backward in space.

Primarily associated with painting of the post-War era, particularly between 1960’s and 1970’s, Shaped Canvas has a connection with Post-Painterly Abstraction that reacted against the Abstract Expressionism. In Europe, Munich-born painter Rupprecht Geiger (1908 - 2009) exhibited Shaped Canvas in Paris in 1948. While in America, New Orleans-born abstract painter Edward Clark’s (b. 1926) works shown at Brata Gallery in New York in 1957 have also been termed Shaped Canvas paintings. In 1964, influential art critic Lawrence Alloway curated The Shaped Canvas exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York that included the works of Paul Feeley (1910 - 1966), Sven Lukin (b. 1934), Richard Smith (b. 1931), Frank Stella, and Neil Williams (1934 - 1988) and it set the defining moment for the Shaped Canvas paradigm. Among them one of the most prominent American’s Shaped Canvas artists was Frank Stella, who has used Vs, lozenges and fragments of circles as his canvas shape. While the British exponent was Richard Smith, who sometimes used a kite-shaped format to stretch on rods and construct part of the visual structure for his painting. Shaped Canvas departed from the traditional rectangular format and replaced by triangle, diamonds, rhomboids, trapezoids and so on to suggest speed and streamlined stylization. It emerged as a new form of abstract painting that mirrored the industrial beauty and optimistic spirit of the post-War “space-race” era.

Dr Choong’s Shaped Canvas defies traditional distinctions between painting and sculpture as it emphasises on the object-hood of the work instead of what in the twodimensional surface. Rather than focuses on what is in the frame, his Shaped Canvas moved into real space - the shape of the canvas interacts with the wall space it hung, it gradually shared Minimalist fascination on the relationship between an art object, the surrounding space and the viewers. In considering the dynamic relationship between shape and space of a canvas, it altered the way one experiences a work of art by engaging in real space rather than looking into a work of art in traditional way. Dr Choong’s Shaped Canvas exists entirely in its own right and not as a reference to, representing or reproduction of something else. It echoes what Frank Stella suggested about his own painting in an interview with Bruce Glaser, which is “what you see is what you see”. The series embrace a sense of it-is-ness and meditative quality due to its non-referential nature in regard to subject matter. It can be associated with Zen Buddhists practice of Tathatā (Sanskrit, Chinese: 真如) or Suchness, where things or matters are being seen or treated as there are.

Dr Choong was particularly interested in how different hues of colour relate to each other and the interplay between colour and shape. He explores the inner structure of his painting through the use of these two elements in connection with the intended size and shape of the canvas. At times, the colours and shapes from the inner structure of the painting may dictate the shape and size of his canvas. The energy and exuberance of shapes and colours in his work seem to vibrate, leap and zoom itself outside the normative rectangle that increase the complexity of both the shape and colour relations. It suggests that static shapes in his canvas are as if in a motion process of advancing or receding, and falling and rising. Langsner summed up in the Four Abstract Classicists exhibition catalogue on this in 1959 that “colour and shape are one and the same entity. Form gains its existence through colour and colour its being through form”.

Dr Choong did not stop at the Shaped Canvas Series. He challenged himself and took his studio practice to another level in the 70s by producing what he called the SEA-Thru Series.

The SEA-Thru Series

Dr Choong moved into his new home in SEA Park, Petaling Jaya, at the turn of the seventies where it inspired him to create the SEA-Thru Series. The series created a simple modular and serial arrangement and started to penetrate the canvases with rectangular holes (Figure 17 to 19). It allows the viewers to experience the surface of the canvas and at the same time exposes them to a new dimension behind a two-dimensional surface.

The SEA-Thru Series was interested in the duality of the reality and interplay with optical illusion and physical mass. It interweaves with both theory of Western art practice and Eastern philosophical thoughts as found in the doctrines of Taoism and Zen Buddhism. The works induce the viewers to examine the positive and negative spaces of a matter, such as front cannot exist without relating to its back, nothingness complements and confronting the form, Yin finds balance in Yang and there co-exist in the same reality as if both sides of the same coin. The understanding of duality can be found in the famous saying in Zen Buddhism that suggests ‘色即是空, 空即是色, 色不异空, 空不异色’ (sè jí shì kōng,kōng jí shì sè,sè bù yì kōng,kōng bù yì sè), which can be basically translated into English as ‘form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.’ “In the art of Choong Kam Kow one is offered an intriguing, enriching example of how that impact of East upon West within the history of Modernism can be both absorbed and provisioned by someone clearly able to bridge cultures, very much in the open hearted manner of Yanagi’s wandering Buddhist monks”.

The idea of penetrating the surface of a canvas may be studied alongside Lucio Fontana’s (1899 - 1968) painting. Following his return to Italy in 1948, the Argentina-born artist began to formulate the theories for his Spazialismo or Spatialism in five manifestos (between 1947 and 1952). He questioned the traditional Western art on a flat support such as canvas or paper, proposing the time had come for artists to work in three or rather four physical dimensions instead of two. To begin what he named “an art for the Space Age”, Fontana started the so-called Spatial Concept or Slash Series from 1949 that consists of holes or slashes on the surface of monochrome paintings. He adopted the title Concetto spaziale or Spatial Concept for these works and used it for his subsequent paintings. Lucio Fontana often painted the reverse of his canvases with black gauze to create an infinite depth and mysterious sense of illusion behind the open cuts.

By puncturing the surface of their canvases, both Lucio Fontana and Dr Choong highlighted the space beyond a two-dimensional painting. Instead of slashing the canvas to exploit the beauty of chance and accident, Dr Choong’s rectangular holes embrace a sense of order, simplicity and accuracy. It finished with shades of colours and metallic silver (Figure 20) inside these more rational holes to allow the vague images of the viewer to interact and blend into the expanded colour environment. The work transformed two-dimensional matters with calculative measure. It penetrated and invaded space to correspond to the spirit of the post-War industry and space era, leaving an imaginable environment for the viewer to live in.

Dr Choong challenged himself and developed the SEAThru Series into sculptural form (Figure 21 to 26). Instead of conventional materials, these pieces began to use industry-produced materials and found objects. Unlike Joseph Cornell’s (1903 - 1972) boxed assemblages that used found objects to tell complex and memorising stories, he found inspiration in the culture of the East such as Tai Chi, Yin Yang and I-Ching. I-Ching embraces the five elements that are used to describe the Nature including Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth as interpreted in Dr Choong’s SEA-Thru (Figure 24 to 25). It is a system of cosmology and philosophy in Chinese culture that centered on the understanding of constant change, the evolution of the Nature as a process and the dynamic balance of opposites. The five elements also represent the four seasons: Wood represents Spring (72 days) and being considered as a period of grow. Fire represents Summer (72 days) and being considered as a period of swelling, flowering, and brimming with heat and energy. Metal represents Autumn (72 days) and being considered as a period of harvesting and collecting. Water represents Winter (72 days) and being considered as a period of retreat and stillness. While Earth is being considered as a transitional season know as late summer or long summer that associated with leveling and dampening. It makes up of an accumulation of another 72 days from the four seasons (4 seasons x 18 days = 72 days). Today the system of I- Ching is still widely used as a reference in martial arts, Feng Shui, Chinese and alternative medicine to find balance in health and living.

Echoing the Minimalists, Dr Choong denied the need for pedestal and placed some of these pieces directly on the floor to suggest actual space is intrinsically more direct, powerful and specific. The pedestal is like the frame of a painting, isolate a creation as art. For the Minimalists, “Art on the floor had to be viewed not as something apart, but as one more thing in the viewer’s physical space”. In comparison to the restricted view of the wall pieces, the floor pieces take on the quality of an architectural and allow the viewers to go around and experience them from expanded angles.

Conclusion

Dr Choong’s experience in the United States provided him with crucial exposure to Western art practice where he absorbed various impulses of the Abstract Expressionism, Hard-Edge painting, Shaped Canvas and Minimalism. His sensitivity towards the Western art and culture blended with his own culture and identity and evoked a unique studio practice that is experimental, embracive and thought-provoking.

The New York Series responds to his sentiment about his homeland as well as the exciting new experience he had in America. The Shaped Canvas Series explores “colour as shape and shape as colour”, and began to delve into real space with unconventional canvas shapes. The form of the work itself becomes the content and it was not intended to evoke in the spectator any recollections of emotion and sentiment. The SEA-Thru Series allows three-dimensional space to invade into two-dimensional surface, it was an action of structural and calculative destruction in order to construct. The series created an expanded dimension for the viewer to live in.

The series of works discussed in this essay reveal that Dr Choong’s enthusiastically reviewed his many different tendencies and his role as an artist and decided what creative direction he wanted to pursue. Over the years, his studio practice gradually divorced itself with any school or movement. He continues to work in series, producing a body of works that are diversified, unique, challenging and thought-provoking. These include the Festival Series (1970’s - 1990’s), the Rhythm of Growth Series (1986 - 1992), the Rockscape Series (1985 - 1992), the Earthscape Series (1990 - 93), the Dragon Tradition Series (2000 - 2012) and the Gongfu Series (2006 and ongoing). In his own words, Dr Choong suggested that “My work projects the correlation between traditional values and contemporary life, reflects the co-existence between identity and modernization, and projects the theory that modernisation will inevitably lead towards globalisation which provides opportunities for adaptation of new life styles, acceptance of foreign elements, sharing of common values and opening up global thinking”.

Dr Choong’s studio practice adopts an open-minded approach in the exploration of medium, material and technique. The sensitivity in cultural significance has always been revealed in various materials, mediums, forms and methods he used. The elements of East and West, duality and oneness, traditional and modernity, Nature and humanity have always been explored in his work both complementary and in juxtaposition. He consistently presents a body of work that is methodologically Western and philosophically leaning to the East.




Dr Pok Chong Boon
Guest Writer

Dr Pok has been involving in art and design since 1983. Having completed his PhD practice-led fine art research in London in 2011, he decided to return to Kuala Lumpur and take on the role as the head of the research and development department for Dasein Academy of Art. As a contemporary fine artist and researcher, Dr Pok specialises in cross-disciplinary art practice including sculpture, installation and audience interactive performance art using the everyday. He has exhibited locally and internationally including the UK, Italy, USA and China. His PhD thesis explores the relationship between art and Zen Buddhism, where he makes ‘Comparative Studies on the Mind of the Everyday in Contemporary Fine Art and Zen Buddhist Practice’.

(Original printed in "CHOONG KAM KOW RETROSPECTIVE - Cross Culture • Trans Era",

 National Visual Arts Gallery, Malaysia 2014)
 
 

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drchoong kam kow
Dr. Choong Kam Kow is a well known
senior contemporary artist,
a leading art & design educationist and
an independent curator in Malaysia

FEDERATION OF ASIAN ARTISTS ASSOC.
MALAYSIA COMMITTE CHARIMAN
NATIONAL TAIWAN NORMAL UNIV. ALUMNI
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HON. DOCTOR OF ARTS (RGU. SCOTLAND, UK)
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