Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
See You
See You

Kow’s light brushwork in See You gives the painting a translucent quality.  Kow is known for his portraits of Malay girls which also capture the beauty of the east coast of Malaysia. The central focus of this painting is a young Malay woman in a traditional baju kurung who has her head turned away from the viewer. Like the landscape behind her, she is painted in pale, subdued tones. The painting has a deliberately unfinished quality, with fine lines of white space visible around the woman’s face. Behind her, an unoccupied fishing boat floats upon an empty, desolate sea. The overall mood of the painting is melancholy, the title of the painting “See You” suggestive of a farewell or an ending of some sort.

Oil on canvas
88 × 110.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Kow Leong Kiang
About Kow Leong Kiang

Kow Leong Kiang (b. 1970, Selangor) is a leading contemporary figure painter, known for his portraits of beautiful local women set against backdrops of rural landscapes. In particular, he likes to paint women from the villages in the east coast of Malaysia, finding a charm and beauty in their prevailing traditional way of life. Kow received his diploma in Fine Art from the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1991. He was the first Malaysian artist to receive the Phillip Morris ASEAN Art Award in 1998. Since then, he has exhibited extensively in his native region of Southeast Asia, and also in East Asia, Europe, and America.

Further Readings

  • Ooi, Adeline and Yong, Beverly. “From Paddy Fields to Fake Plastic Palm Trees: Negotiating a Changing Social Landscape.” In Narratives in Malaysian Art, vol. 1, edited by Nur Hanim Khairuddin and Beverly Yong, 96–113. Kuala Lumpur: RogueArt, 2012. 

Learning Section

  • There is a strong feeling of narrative in this painting. Imagine this painting is a poster for a movie. What kind of movie would it be? Who is the woman in the painting? How is she feeling? Where is she going? What time of day is it? What has just happened? What happens next? Does the title of the painting help you answer any of these questions?

  • Look at the composition of the painting. What is unusual about the placing of the figure in the painting? Why has the artist done this? What is the dominant colour in the painting? What effect does this have?

  • Do you consider this painting to be a portrait? Is every painting of a persona a portrait? If so, what does this painting tell us about the subject? If not, what makes a painting of a person into a portrait?