Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Image on Rhythm
Image on Rhythm

Executed in oil on board, Cheong Laitong’s abstract painting is highly expressive with its powerful sweeping strokes in lyrical gestures that play with tensions of movement and surface. Almost calligraphic, shades of sombre colours blend together over an energetic yellow plane to suggest the visual intensity of crashing soundwaves from a lively rhythm. Included in the 1967 seminal GRUP exhibition, this painting was part of a body of work that put forward a new modern aesthetic and international sensibility to art in post-Merdeka Malaysia.

Oil on board
244 x 163 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Cheong Laitong
About Cheong Laitong

Born 1932 in China, Cheong Laitong came to Malaysia in 1937. As one of the earliest contributors in Malaysian modern art, he alongside his contemporaries established themselves as the “avant-garde” artists in the KL art circle of the 1960s with inclinations towards abstract expressionism. In 1961, he was granted a scholarship to study at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, USA before going on to further his art education at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. A member and later President of the Wednesday Art Group, he is well known for having designed the large frontal mosaics of the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. The 1960s also saw him join Rothman’s as its Creative Director, a post that he held from 1963 to 1992. He has won numerous awards including first prize at the Salon Malaysia in 1969 and 1979, and his work has been exhibited in Malaysia, India, UK, Canada, Japan.

Further Readings
  • Cheong Laitong, Selected Works from 1960 - 2004, NN Gallery, 2004.

  • T.K. Sabapathy, ‘Merdeka Makes Art, Or Does It?’ Vision and Idea: ReLooking Modern Malaysian Art, ed. T.K. Sabapathy, Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery, 1994. 

  • Simon Soon, ‘Notes on GRUP’, Gerak, Rupa, Ubah, Penyataan 1957-1973,  ILHAM Gallery, 2017. 

  • Modern Artists of Malaysia, T.K. Sabapathy, Redza Piyadasa, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1983.

Learning Section

  • What do you see in this painting? How has colour been used in this painting? How has the artist applied paint? What kind of marks did he make? Describe the lines you see in the painting. What shapes can you see in the artwork? Do they remind you of anything?

  • The title of this painting makes a connection with music and rhythm. What kind of music do you think it represents? Is it contemporary or classical? Western or traditional? Is it loud or soft? What instruments are playing? How many? Could you drum the rhythm in the painting on the table using your hands or a pencil?

  • It is always difficult to draw movement in a single drawing. Normally when we draw a figure, we ask them to pose without moving. Why not try to respond to the artist's work by drawing a moving figure. Choose a model, either a friend or family member. Ask them to walk slowly across the room. Ask them to freeze for 30 seconds after each step. In these 30 seconds draw the figure without looking at your page. When they move, draw the new movement on top of the first drawing. Keep going until you have filled the page and your model has finished walking across the room.