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Wong Hoy Cheong  
Wong Hoy Cheung


WONG Hoy Cheong Malaysia b. 1960
In search of faraway places (from 'Migrants' series) 1996
Charcoal, photocopy transfer and collage on paper scroll
Three panels: 204.5 x 151cm (each); 204.5 x 453cm (overall)
The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art.
Purchased 1996.
Michael Myer and Ann Gamble Myer through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Reproduced by permission of the artist

About the work

This work deals with issues of cultural difference, race, ethnicity, migration, discrimination and history. In search of faraway places is a highly personal exploration of identity and marginalisation in contemporary Malaysia. The series is based on the artist's own family history. The son of a second-generation Chinese immigrant of working class origins who married into a wealthy Chinese family, Wong Hoy Cheong probes the complexity of cultural allegiances. Using a medium that recalls the sepia-toned photographs of a family album, he creates images that resonate with references to migration and displacement, class and context, prejudice and identity, over past generations.

Wong Hoy Cheung WONG Hoy Cheong
Aspirations of the working class (from 'Migrants' series) 1994
Charcoal and photostat collage on hanging paper scrolls
190 x 150cm
Collection: National Art Gallery, Malaysia

Reproduced with permission

Wong Hoy Cheong WONG Hoy Cheong
Marriage of a rubber tapper to a girl dressed as the Virgin Mary in a school play (from 'Migrants' series) 1994
Charcoal and photostat collage on hanging paper scrolls
190 x 150cm
Collection: National Art Gallery, Malaysia
Reproduced with permission

Wong Hoy Cheong originally planned only four works in the 'Migrants' series. The sudden illness of his mother was the impetus to create the fifth work, a tryptich, called In search of faraway places. As his family flew in from other parts of the world to be by her bedside, the artist reflected on the migration, cultural allegiances and aspirations of his own present-day family. Many Malaysians (like his own family members) have been educated overseas and now work outside Malaysia. In this collage, well dressed people armed with university certificates head off in boats for new opportunities. Meanwhile, the older generation (the subject of the other works in the 'Migrants' series) remains in Malaysia becoming increasingly frail. On the other hand, people from China, India, Indonesia and Myanmar (Burma) look to prosperous Malaysia as the place promising them a meaningful future. Dealing with the issue of migration - 'the ebb and flow' of people - is not just relevant to Malaysia and Malaysians. Wong Hoy Cheong is interested in universal themes, like the movement of people and the strength and tenacity of the human spirit that is prepared to risk all for a better life.

About the artist
Wong Portrait
Wong Hoy Cheong
Wong Hoy Cheong received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts in 1986. As well as maintaining a practice, he also teaches art. During his five years teaching at the Malaysian Institute of Art in Kuala Lumpur, he developed courses in Alternative/Third World Aesthetics, Installation, Performance and Video Art. He was the artist-in-residence at the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, in 1992. In search of faraway places was included in 'The Second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art', Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1996.
 
Other lines to follow for Wong Hoy Cheong
Wong Hoy Cheong WONG Hoy Cheong
Some dreamt of Malaya, some dreamt of Great Britain (from 'Migrants' series) 1994
Charcoal and photostat collage on hanging paper scrolls
190 x 150cm
Collection: National Art Gallery, Malaysia

Reproduced with permission

'I grew up listening to stories. Stories told by my father and mother, grandmothers, aunties and uncles. They were stories of remembrance layered with wonder and pain, conflict and reconciliation, mystery and miracle. My paintings ['Migrants' series] take these stories as a starting point. I am interested in how the histories of people are made, how the individual "I" becomes the collective "I" and how the easily forgotten dreams of one person become the dreams of a people.' In search of faraway places looks at the migration of people, their paths, their continuous ebb and flow from land to land searching for a better life and their eventual indigenisation in a new homeland.

1 Wong Hoy Cheong in The Second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art: Artists' Statements, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1996, [p.5].

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