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The Realm of Vibrancy by Ong Boon Kong


About this exhibition

Synopsis ‘Realm of Vibrancy’ exhibition, where Chinese Ink Painting takes center stage. Marvel at exquisite artworks portraying majestic tigers, graceful goldfish, serene landscapes, and iconic Singapore landmarks, including the historic charm of old Chinatown. Each stroke of ink breathes life into these masterpieces, encapsulating the essence of tradition and culture. Join us in experiencing the allure and timeless elegance of Chinese Ink Painting’s vibrant storytelling.

Artist Showcase

雪国雄姿 Majestic II, Chinese ink on Rice Paper, 137×69 cm


风从虎 Prowess, Chinese ink on Rice paper 130x65cm


丽影成双 Double Miracle, Chinese Ink on Rice Paper, 50 x 50cm


老虎 Vitality, Oil on Canvas, 79x 64cm 


荷塘情趣 Harmony, Chinese ink on Rice Paper, 123 x 31 cm


Event Details

Exhibition Dates 展览日期:

15 – 21 February 2024

Time 时间: 11am-7pm daily

Exhibition Opening 展览开幕日期与时间

15 February 2024, 7pm

Venue 地点: Visual Arts Centre

10 Penang Road,

#01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green Singapore 238469

Guest-of-Honour 开幕嘉宾:

Mr Chuang Shaw Peng 莊紹平先生

President of the Hwa Chong Alumni Association 華中校友会会長

The Art of Ong Boon Kong – Curator’s Talk

Saturday 17 February, 3pm

Artist Biography

Ong Boon Kong, a painter like a hermit

The deceased painter Ong Boon Kong (1948-2021) was simple and low-key. He would carry a cloth bag with pen brushes and ink in it on his shoulders and walk in Bugis Street, Bras Basah Complex, “Little Thailand” (Golden Mile Complex), and the bustling streets of Chinatown every day, looking like a familiar neighbor uncle, but his sharp eyesight was spectacular and different from any other ordinary people beside him. He would have no scruples and concentrated on observing small animals such as sparrows and squirrels anytime and anywhere without caring about other things happening around them, people might be surprised and ask: Who is he?

When people praise an accomplished painter, they may say this: Look, he paints squirrels, he paints grapes, or he paints goldfish, and that one paints donkeys… but for Ong Boon Kong, the local people would most like to call him a Tiger painter. Indeed, he was well-known and praised for painting tigers. With a big brush in hand, he would draw freely on the rice paper, or with oil on canvas sometimes, with complete confidence. Between dry and wet strokes and shades, the King of Animals would appear instantly.

Singapore is known as the Lion City, but the Black Lion seems to exist only in the legend. Instead, in the real history recorded by images, tigers often appear. On September 8, 1831, the English newspaper Singapore Chronicle published what is believed to be the first local report of tiger infestation. Rumor has it that in the 1860s, in just one year, there were about 300 people killed by tigers, and the Lion City was almost a Tiger City then. The National Gallery Singapore had once exhibited a painting created in 1865, depicting a scene of George Coleman, the director of public works in colonial Singapore, accompanied by Indian convict laborers, who were attacked by a Malayan tiger during a jungle expedition in 1835. Among the local folk, ordinary people have the tradition of worshiping the Lord Tiger on the third day of the second lunar month to deceive the villains around them and avoid vicious comments from them.

It seems that Ong Boon Kong did not attract very much attention from the mainstream media during his lifetime, and he actually did not care about it. He loves to paint and focuses mainly on watercolors, oil paintings, and Chinese ink paintings the most. He was good at drawing various animals. He was also fond of the local street scenes. Often, he would paint the views of the stalls around the old Sungei Road, the Singapore River, Chinatown, and the Samsui women, his neighbours, or other ordinary people, with a sincere and deep love for life.

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