Late Michael Chong Voon Kong


The work of a poet or painter is to stir the emotions of readers or viewers so that they may experience something of the artist's sensibilities regarding the subject of his work. Both a poet and painter who has chosen as his subject the world around him - the jungle and the city, the sea and the land, the destitute person and the pampered privileged. He reminded his fellow men in his work that their lives contain moments of amazing beauty.

In his painting, Michael used the same direct but unstated approach, focusses on his subject, gives less credence to that which is beside the point, and therefore draws the eye to the significant aspects of his work. He celebrated Nature as the outward and visible sign of the work of a greater power, traces and records the land, the sea, the people.

He studied and learned a variety of techniques: Chinese brush painting, Watercolour, Acrylic, Batik, but the greater part of Michael's work was in the impressionist style. In the 19th Century, the French poet Charles Baudelaire said, "We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvellous, but we do not notice it." Up until that point, classical French artists had been concentrating on portraying heroic subjects: religious figures, political figures, warriors.

Baudelaire's words might have inspired the group of painters who became known as impressionists. Jules Laforgue spoke of the impressionist style in this way: "The academic sees only lines at the edge of things; the impressionist sees perspective established by thousands of imperceptible tones and touches."

Michael's work contained a thousand tones and touches. The impressionists departed in the Nineteenth Century from the rigidity of classical French painting and made the people of France aware of the marvellous quality of French life. A hundred years later, and 11,000km away, Michael Chong steadily portrayed the equally marvellous quality of Sarawakian life. Michael Chong passed away on 29 Sept 2021.