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Hoan Gallery hosts Art Institute founder's First Posthumous Show

KUCHING: Hoan Gallery will launch its 2024 Season with an art show featuring life works of the late great Chong Liew Syn, founder of the Sarawak Fine Arts School.

ART: Hoan Gallery's 2024 Season will open with an art show highlighting the life works of Chong Liew Syn, Sarawak Fine Arts School founder.


Around 60 art pieces, many never before seen, will be showcased at the gallery for an eight-week long show, which promises to be a highlight of Sarawak’s cultural calendar this year.

HIDDEN: The gallery will exhibit around 60 artworks, including many never seen before, in an eight-week show starting on Jan 19.


The show, titled “Hidden Gems: The Life Works of Chong Liew Syn”, starts Jan 19 at the gallery at La Promenade Mall.


The late Chong, who passed away in 1999 at age 50, set up the first Government accredited art school in Sarawak.

Her institution at Padungan, Kuching, produced numerous luminaries of Sarawak’s present art scene, not to mention a host of VIPs in various fields, from politics to scientific research.

CONTRIBUTION: Chong, who died in 1999 at 50, founded Sarawak's first government-accredited art school.


Hoan Gallery’s director Hoan Kee Huang described the upcoming show as “significant” and “likely an emotional reunion for Chong’s loved ones and students”.


“The gallery, with the aid of Hock Seng Lee, has been working on Chong’s show for almost a decade. Chong’s son, Ken Loh, has opened up the family archive and allowed us the privilege to sift through important, never-seen-before, works. There are real gems, historical and significant to Sarawak’s art scene, that we’ve recovered,” Hoan said.


“We found Chong’s art from when she herself was a student in Hong Kong in the 1960s, through to the 1970s, 80s and 90s. We cherrypicked the most beautiful works, which also reveal the transformation of her artistic style over her lifetime.”

The show collection encompasses the entire career of Chong. There will be watercolours, oil painting and acrylic. Hoan noted Chong’s still life paintings and landscapes were particularly beautiful.

KAMPUNG: In her painting "Dear Neighbour," she portrayed a photo of her neighbour’s house.


LIFE: An artwork portraying an image of fish and vegetables, prepared for a meal.

LADY: A thousand profound meanings lie within an image featuring a woman adorned in a Kebaya.

“Chong art pieces, like herself, are full of warmth, honesty and beauty. She’s a master of shading and light. She’s painted some beautiful sunsets of long disappeared riverine scenes, and the most lovingly captured still life of humble market produce.”


Recovered from her studio are teaching aids, her old pallets, paint brushes, and past memorabilia like brochures of student’s art shows from decades ago.

OLD BUT GOLD: A photograph captured the moment when her students in the art class at her former Padungan school.

GATHER: Recently, her students reunited again after a long time at Hoan Gallery.


Deputy premier Datuk Amar Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian will open the show.

“I’m thankful for the invitation to my late teacher’s first posthumous art show. I spent time to learn from her from Form One to Form Three,” Dr Sim said.


The majority of artworks from the show will be for sale. They range from around RM3,000 to over RM10,000, depending on medium, size and age.

MEMORIES: The show, titled “Hidden Gems: The Life Works of Chong Liew Syn”, starts Jan 19 at Hoan Gallery at La Promenade Mall.


Last year, Hoan Gallery opened its 2023 season with Alena Murang’s Colours of the Highlands. A record breaking 36 out of 51 pieces from the show were sold during the eight-week run. Collectors included those from Kuching, Singapore and as far as Spain.


Hoan Gallery’s 2024 season opener is to be followed by an abstract art show by David Chew and artist Joanne Lau’s showcase.

Hoan Gallery opened in 2021 with the “Rebirth” exhibit, featuring 10 Sarawakian art masters. The works of veterans such as Lee Hock Kia and the late Micheal Chong were highlighted alongside new talents like mural artist Leonard Siaw.


The gallery has also featured an all-oil painting show by Bong Choo Chew.


Hoan himself has an illustrious career, including invitations to paint portraits of the Agong.

For more info, visit, or search @HoanArtGallery. Updates also available at and @LaPromenadeMall.



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