Prestige Magazine Spotlights Alvin Ong

18 Jan 2024

Ahead of the second edition of ART SG, Prestige Magazine turns the spotlight on local homegrown talent Alvin Ong, commending the artist as “one of Asia’s most exciting young figurative painters.” In Ong’s surreal oil paintings of the human face and figure, ambiguity takes center stage. His subjects often depict anonymous bodies entwined, blurring the line between one form concluding and another beginning. Alternatively, he explores diverse perspectives of the same person, portrayed with additional limbs, suggesting a spectrum of poses struck over time. The article unveils an intimate conversation with the artist as he delves into his artistic practice.

“I begin by drawing directly on the canvas, and then improvising and going with the flow. The figure often comes first. I have a rough idea of the narratives I like to play with, but quite often ideas get tossed out quickly if they don’t match the scale. I often use the Doodle app on my phone to try resolve the situation. If it gets too tricky, I often just paint over and start over. It’s quite exhausting, but also quite a rewarding process, as keeping things open often leads to many surprises and new colour palette discoveries. Sometimes I revise the paintings very drastically very far into the process. It’s sometimes necessary to be brutal”, shared the artist.

Singaporean art collectors Linda Neo and Albert Lim note, “Distortion and disfiguration may not always be a sight to behold, but Alvin Ong’s renderings of human emotions through such representations provoke a different reaction. There is a sense of Francis Bacon-esque in his paintings, but bodily emotions are more exaggerated in Alvin’s oils on canvas. His paintings of his subjects’ emotions are both graphic and mystical in nature, evoking unpredictable emotional responses from viewers.”

“My paintings function as windows and mirrors,” Ong concludes. “They reflect something of myself but also of the world we live in.” 

Profile of Alvin Ong with In My Head series. Photographed by August Sim. Courtesy of the artist and Yavuz Gallery.