Jul 2016 - Chang Fee Ming Exhibition


What a treat for art lovers and MCG members to appreciate  two amazing works of art recently: the beautiful art works of  Chang Fee Ming, a Malaysian artist, housed in the architectural marvel which is the Bank Negara Art Gallery by Malaysian architectural firm Hijjas Kasturi.


Chang Fee Ming was born in 1959 and lives in Terengganu. According to Melorinda Sakudin, the Curator who showed us around, he lives in a simple wooden house near the beach where he paints. His obvious love of the traditional Malay peoples and especially fisher folk and kampong life comes through his works. 

The first painting that captured our attention as we walked in  was “Orang Ke Laut (A Fisherman)”, 2014, a watercolour of a fisherman wearing a bright blue check scarf. The movement and colours in his paintings really capture the light of the east coast and you can almost feel the gentle sea breeze as captured in the painting titled “Breeze”, 1994 of sarongs hung up to dry.

Chang Fee Ming has travelled extensively throughout Asia and he has painted ordinary people and landscapes over thirty years. He was an invited resident artist in Bali where he found nature, man and art living in harmony.  He returned to Terengganu and continues to record ordinary people in their daily lives as he is concerned with the demise of community living. His work shows the rites and routines of the villagers from the cradle to the grave. As he said “the kampong is my academy”. 

Three things seem to influence his paintings: light, movement and precision of detail. The detail in folds in a sarong, or the lines on a wrinkled face or hands or the sand on dimpled feet   shows extraordinary talent. Rosemary Chin met Fee Ming and said he is a humble person who says “he paints what he feels and not that accurate”!

His first prize (Sime Darby) was for the painting “Youth and Children Together”, 1985 and since then he has gone on to receive many prestigious awards and his works have become more collectable and popular.


His later works from about 1978-99 deliberately leave out the main subject and instead he paints only the feet or bottom half of people and his use of colour becomes bolder. He encourages us to imagine what the person(s) looks like. Many paintings leave us with the question “When will the fishermen return?” such as in “Once Upon a Time in Batu Rakit” which shows a woman waiting for her husband and children or “Awaiting”, 1991 showing the bottom half of three figures. The beach and sea are never far away. There were even two traditional fishing boats in the exhibition with displays of carved bow spirits he has collected.


His “Window “series are lovely as the viewer gets to peek through the window of a village house to imagine what is happening in the private space beyond such as in “Pillows”, undated.

The exhibition was spectacular and is now sadly closed. I would encourage you to learn more about Chang Fee Ming through the webpage http://www.changfeeming.my. MCG would like to thank Melorinda for her time and the Bank Negara Art Gallery for putting on such a beautiful exhibition.


Written by Janine Williams, photos by Michelle Pease.