Chin Wan Kee has chipped away over 30 years of his career in the sculpture-making field. He wouldn’t change things for the world. Indeed, as an art student, he actually majored in painting, but after graduation, he followed his passion in creating sculptures.
“Sculpturing is meditative. It seizes me and gets me in a position to experience the truth and the freedom in life. To me, making a sculpture is also a very personal thing, allowing me to examine my roots and my own identity,” says Chin, who holds deep philosophical views when it comes to this art form.
Chin’s creative drive is not about a desire for fame or glory. Instead, for him, it is out of love for his art and a desire to express. His home and studio in smalltown Rawang in Selangor gives him the necessary inspiration and environment to make art at his own pace.
Chin doesn’t rush out his sculptures. He prefers to take his time, with a dozen sculptures produced a year. His meticulous efforts, thankfully, have not gone unnoticed. Through the years, many of his works have been displayed in group exhibitions – at home and abroad. He has only had two previous solo shows.
The Sculpturing Is Meditative By Chin Wan Kee: Selected Works 1997-2017 exhibition, currently on at the National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG) in KL, is a timely survey of his most celebrated bronze sculptures from the last 20 years as well as a look at his new pieces.
Chin, 55, is an intriguing but overlooked original and he has been exhibiting since 1992. His most well-known work is probably the sculpture Harmony And Unity, which has been on display in the NVAG’s gardens since 2000.
As a senior lecturer, Chin is also a familiar sight in the art labs at the Department of Creative Arts at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College in KL. At home, he keeps himself busy – and fit – by reading books on Chinese philosophy and practising martial arts. But it is in his studio where he is in his element. A fine number of his works are housed there.
The Sculpturing Is Meditative contains 55 works, all from Chin’s personal collection. The show, put together by independent curator Tan Sei Hon, carries highlights from Chin’s early days The Judgement Of Humanity series (1991-1992), the Familiar Stranger series (1993-2002) and the Beyond Mind And Words series (2007-ongoing).
“The exhibition shows how Chin, the sculptor, has developed over the years. As he progresses, his works have became more and more engaging and soulful. This show has plenty of deeply-thoughtful works. They are all about the human condition and what intangible things you have in your life,” adds Tan.
Chin’s sculptures, some with fractured faces, are mostly of human figures in quiet reflection. The bird motifs remain the artist’s signature element. “I have been exploring more about the people around me since I began to draw and paint. The basis for my sculptural project is to study human behaviour,” explains Chin.
Through his sculptures, says Chin, he has become more aware of the role an individual plays in life. “I want to know more about the way people think, their values, their beliefs, and why they do what they do,” he concludes.
‘Sculpturing Is Meditative By Chin Wan Kee: Selected Works From 1997-2017’ is on at the Creative Space, National Visual Arts Gallery, No 2 Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak,. Kuala Lumpur till Oct 30. The gallery opens daily, 10am-6pm. Visit www.artgallery.gov.my.