Interview: Donegel’ Chong
Luca Curci talks with Donegel’ Chong during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2021 at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Donegel’ Chong was born in Malaysia as third-generation Chinese descent; educated in Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. While completing his studies at Catholic Junior College Singapore, he spontaneously took part in the 1993 “My Singapore, My home” art competition organized by the Singapore Ministry of culture. He was awarded a Merit Prize. This was his first public recognition for his artistic talents. Unfortunately, Donegel’ Chong was not allowed to pursue his passion for art. He went on to graduate with an Honors Bachelor of Science in International hospitality management (Les Roches International School of Hotel Management), which brought him to Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. After his last stint in the USA, Donegel’ Chong took up fashion design, creating his fashion brands ‘Malefactor’ and ‘Donegel’ Chong’; all brought under his first boutique in Zurich, ‘FADESTO – Fashion Designers Starting Out’. An unexpected development led Donegel’ Chong back to the hospitality industry in Japan, Malaysia and China. An opportunity in retail brought him back to Switzerland again. After not creating art for more than a decade, Donegel’ Chong taught himself to use the medium acrylic and finally took the long-awaited step in December 2018 to be a fully-fledged artist. Donegel’ Chong, now based in Switzerland, aims to be free in what he creates. His artworks mostly deal with his likes, like nots, wants, want nots, and they are with different extents biographical. He calls it, “Reflections of life”. For his continuity, all his artworks from 2018 onwards, will incorporate his favorite brush stroke(s), which he calls his “Kurrrlys”. Donegel’ Chong has exhibited in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Norway and China.
“I WANT I WANT NOT” is a cycle of artworks about the wants and want nots of the human race, both individually and collectively. It is human nature to want and not want, in varying degrees of longing. To which extent do we want or not want something? Do we ever reflect on what the consequences are, of wanting and not wanting something? This piece is about our actions being influenced by our brain and how we think, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. What are the consequences of wanting or not wanting to see, hear, speak, or even to think about something?
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Donegel’ Chong – I was not allowed to pursue an artistic career by my family so I was in fashion, hospitality and retail until I got sick in 2017. Then I rediscovered my true passion and decided to pursue my dream of being an artist in December 2018. I’m mostly self-taught and I look for different opportunities to show my works, building up my artistic career step by step.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
DC – Depending on what I’m working on, I tend to put myself into the context of the painting so that the emotions that come will be inlayed in the painting. I usually pre-plan the ideas and the composition. But when I’m working on the painting, I usually don’t think too much, I just let it happen; in a way, it is a surrealistic approach. My brush and fingers do the talking and I love to incorporate my favorite brush strokes “kurrrlys” in my works. I don’t really have a ritual; it is more a gut feeling if something is flowing or not. If it is not flowing, I’ll just take a break, do something else and continue later. I do it because I love it and not because I have to.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
DC – I usually do not purposely choose my subjects. Mostly out of nowhere I get an epiphany and this usually inspires me and I will jot it down in my notebook. Then I will develop on this inspiration, to look at the possibilities. Most of my works have biographical influences that touch on what I’ve experienced: what I want, don’t want, what I like, don’t like and sometimes also from what is happening in the world currently that I have a strong feeling about. So I would say that my process is a combination of reasons and instincts.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
DC – Time! I have so many images in my head that I want all my artworks finished. Depending on the series and theme I’m working on, some of them take a lot of time. So, one after the other. I need more patience.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
DC – Satisfaction and relief! Especially with works that have taken a long time. Whatever I need to say, whatever I needed to show is completed; and now to the next piece.
LC – Can you explain something about the artwork you have in our exhibition?
DC – Same as my artist statement above: “I WANT I WANT NOT” is a cycle of artworks about the wants and want nots of the human race; both individually and collectively. It is human nature to want and not want, in varying degrees of longing. To which extent do we want or not want something? Do we ever reflect on what the consequences are, of wanting and not wanting something? (Note: There will be various topics on this which will be created with time). This piece (“I WANT I WANT NOT: Think! See Hear Speak”) is about our actions being influenced by our brain and how we think, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. What are the consequences of wanting or not wanting to see, hear, speak, or even to think about something?
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
DC – I think it is great! When I saw the theme “The Body Language”, I felt immediately that I should submit my work as it fits into the theme. I also love that the artworks are presented in great locations and buildings. It is unfortunate that I cannot attend as I believe being LIVE at the venues, also with artworks of other artists, I will definitely be more inspired.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
DC – Yes, everything went smoothly and efficiently and everyone that I was in contact with was very friendly.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
DC – At the moment no. I feel that you are providing great opportunities and services to us artists.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
DC – I believe the people behind ITSLIQUID GROUP are art enthusiasts and are keen supporters/collaborators of artists; providing opportunities and support to help emerging artists out there to gain presence in the challenging art world.