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WHERE WHERE DO I DO I BEGIN BEGIN MAX KONG MAX KONG


DI R ECTOR’s ForEword

DIRECTOR’S FOREWORD

Max Kong’s work can be said to be an exploration of artistic forms that attempts to mirror, and even goes so far as to transcend, the invocations of his inspirations. Defined in geometric space and characterised by spontaneous expulsion, the artistic evolution of Max Kong has found an audience in Japan, Thailand, and the United States; and it is thus, with great pleasure, that I welcome the artist to conduct his first ever exhibition at Ode to Art. I present to you Max Kong, and his newest works of explorative abstraction, titled “Where Do I Begin.” Multifaceted and layered with not only physical, but conceptual complexities in every stroke, ‘Where Do I Begin” is indeed an apt encapsulation of the adroit artist’s works. Influenced by great abstract creatives, such as Robert Ryman, and the cultural integrations our globalized world has placed in front of its inhabitants, the artist aims to extend the limitations of the material and aesthetic, incorporating essential artistic elements such as pattern and systematic spacing with unconventional mediums and form that mimic the ordinary in a displaced perspective. From cement screed to woodworked shading, the artist places and displaces, spontaneously applying material and paint to follow the natural textures and variants of his unique canvases. Defying conventional definitions, and exploring the versatility of, layered form, the artist creates space that carries its own imagery, formed by process rather than deliberate extraction from the mediums.

playing architectural materials as the new world’s variants of beauty and art. From calculated placing to streaks of action and emotion, each work strikes in its audience a chord that resonates with their own sensibilities and interactions with the concept – moulding it to their subjectivity. Such depth contained within straightforward aesthetics forms the nub of Max Kong’s art – always delicately layered and adaptive to audience, perspective and form. Wavering between painting and sculpture, ‘Where Do I Begin’ contains nuances of infinity, altered perspectives, and the complex question of defining art itself. It brings with it promises of introspection, exploration, and inherent questionings of beauty, subjectivity, and what lies beyond the simplicity of form. It is to this mental awakening and visual transcendence that I now invite you to partake; join us as we follow line, form, material and space into translations of aesthetics. Join us as we explore the artistic wanderings of the complex and innovative Max Kong.

Jazz Chong Director Ode to Art

Even when shifting into the cold mathematics of geometrical shapes, the works of Max Kong are indelibly infused with motion, calling to mind action painting; sometimes using colour to enhance or detract the degree of warmth and derivative contained in them. Firmly grounded in conceptual interpretation that forms the conerstone of abstract art, his works range from displays of aesthetic to studies of cultural anxieties, 3


YOU AND I

The paintings have no images. I take that back. On closer inspection, there appears to be some resemblance of movement, similar to patterns made by LED lights. The patterns are like repeated motives guided by the use of grids; horizontal and vertical structures that align the eye to a emerging form. The system of painting is an important idea in Max Kong’s art practice. This is evident in his early paintings grouped and entitled ‘Systematic Inspired Paintings’. The series were made up of mostly geometric dot paintings while a couple of other paintings that had gestured surfaces that resembled patterns from a panel of cement screed. However, when viewed in its entirety, there was a sense of ‘being’, which made them appear to activated and suspended in time. This sense of ‘being’ is similar to that of noticing a visual change in an event. Robert Ryman is an important influence in the working strategies of Max Kong. Ryman was dedicated to the painting of white paintings, the art of using white to express the intimate nuance found in the physical make up of every one of his paintings. His paintings are often made up of painting methods that were a result of the tension between discipline and chance. One example would be his method of dipping his brush fully loaded with white paint and consequently covering the area and surface of the canvas, until all of the paint is extracted from the brush to the teeth of the canvas. The painting was considered complete once the paint has been completely transferred from the brush to the surface of the canvas. While developing his art as a graduate art student, this important process in Ryman’s practice impacted Max’s interest in process painting as a means to an end.

The difference in Max’s practice is his interest in colour and the use of basic geometry as a tool to arrive at a finished painting. The use of circles and squares often dominate his paintings, giving a scenic appearance that owes more to the idealisms of the world of pleasure and romance. Shadows, reflections, double appearances of circles, dots resembling the sign language of Morse codes and digital lights, give an overall sensation of the materiality that is inherent in every modern city. Romance as allegory, flickering lights cast from the multiplied illusion of windows, glass, cement, apartment screens, the sum of architectural parts at play with the organic environment of plants and trees in the city. It should be noted that the idea of the city is also related to the materials and instruments that Max has adopted since his art school days. Max often adopts DIY materials similar to those, which are used for daily repairs and construction of interiors and architecture. Even the use of brushes are extended by putty knifes, squiggies and tracing templates for his repeated motives of squares and circles. These tools help create a ‘look’ that echoes the surfaces, gradations, and textures familiar to our surrounding. Yet, Max is conscious of deciding on juxtapositions that evidently give a sense of lightness to his paintings. This is an important point in his work, as the lightness reminds us of atmosphere, a rhythmic one in which both the city and that of the natural world converse in visual harmony. In music, harmonisation constitutes to a cluster of notes that form a chord that is pleasant to listen to. On the other spectrum, there is also the use of chromaticism, which suggest sounds that may not be pleasant, like that of the noise of the city. Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee were important artists who captured synesthesia (visual sound) in the expression of color chromatics as an abstract art form. Another historical reference to music and the city is the grid like nature of early industrialisation and modernism found in the paintings of Pierre Mondrian. It was


ESSAY

Mondrian’s ‘Boogie Woogie’ paintings that first provided the connection between the sound of jazz and the patterns of the new city, all in one single image. Max’s paintings are a continuation of these three artist’s early vision, utilising the romantic, impressionistic sensibility of Kandinsky and Klee but filtered by the law of precision, exemplified by his use of the grid axis template. I believe that the process of Max’s painting approach aims to mimic patterns of chaos and order inherent in our everyday world. A world of systems that are divided between measurements found between acts of determinacy and indeterminacy. The silhouettes of ovals and circles in Max’s ‘Sun and Moon series’ converge and separate in its linear make up, provoking optical shifts between negative and positive spaces. These complex interactions conjure visual games of absence and presence, metaphorically akin to the shifts and alignments of our personal relationships with each other. Imaging in the form of layering, suggesting the fluctuation of time; these connotations can also be experienced by the marriage of sculptural relief and painterly illusion, a device that is often highlighted in Max’s method of inducing perspective.

Are Max’s paintings pictures or objects? This question has its relationship to the visual play between matter and space in Max’s paintings. The use of sculptural relief, painting and glazing (reflection) complicates the way we look and recognise forms. In a way, perhaps this is what he perceives as important; a search for new image, locating the in-between image where virtual space and real space meet, provoking the viewer to look, and look yet again. In Max’s performative construction of his paintings, the boundaries that divide painterly particle are reminiscent of the tension between the pixels of everyday technology and the history of retinal art. As an example, we can compare this idea to the grids that form a HD monitor and that of the organic dots seen in a landscape done by Seurat. Perhaps the new and the past are actually the same, just manufactured by different bodies, one is a machine while the other, a human being. In making these works, Max ‘becomes’ a machine but he eventually awakes as a human being. The painting has an image of the world. The painting has an image of you and I.

Ian Woo is a painter working in the language of abstraction with an interest in painting’s inherent ability to suggest modes of representation. He began his studies at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore) in 1991. Between 1995 and 2006, he received a Masters in European Fine Art at the Winchester School of Art (UK) and a research practice DFA with RMIT University (Australia). His works are in the collection of major institutions such as ABN AMRO, Singapore Art Museum, The Istana Singapore, The National Gallery Singapore, UBS, and the Mint Museum of Craft & Design, USA. Woo’s paintings were recently featured in the publication “Art of the New Cities: 21st Century Avant-Gardes”, a publication by Phaidon 2013. He is currently Senior Lecturer at the MA Fine Arts programme at the LASALLE College of the Arts.

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN ?

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Series of Artworks 2004 - 2014

Circle of Light Concentric Squares Blue Lagoon Twilight Black Rain Where do I begin Systematic Inspired Paintings Enigmatic Inspired Paintings Collective Lines Abstract Paintings

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Blue Moon, 2014 Acrylic Paint on Wood 133 x 120cm

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Day after Night, 2012 Acrylic on Wood 27 x 64cm

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Ci rcle of Light

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Eclipse, 2013 Painted Wood on canvas 210 x 130cm 12


Ci rcle of Light

Moon, 2012 Treated Wood on Canvas 188 x 120cm 13


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Infinity, 2012 Treated Wood 82 x 296cm

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Ci rcle of Light

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Sun and Moon (Diptych), 2011 Wood strips 46 x 67cm each

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Ci rcle of Light

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Concentric Sqaures, 2013 Mixed Media on Canvas 150 x 180cm

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Concentric Squares (Almost Red), 2013 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100cm 20


C oncentric S quares

Concentric Squares (Discovering Blue), 2013 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100cm 21


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

CONCENTRIC SqUARES (FINDINg YEllOW), 2013 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100cm

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Concentric Squares (Emerging Green), 2013 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100cm 24


C oncentric S quares

Concentric Squares, 2006 Cement and Enamel Paint on canvas 120 x 120cm 25


C oncentric S quares

Blue Lagoon, 2012 Mixed Media on Canvas 150 x 150cm

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Almost Twilight, 2013 Cement and Mixed Media on Canvas 180 x 140cm

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T wilight

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Twilight, 2011 Cement and Mixed Media on Canvas 180 x 120cm

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T wilight

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Twilight, 2008 Cement and Mixed Media on Panel 120 x 130cm

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T wilight

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Big Small Rain, 2010 Epoxy over Cement on Wood panel 61cm and 92cm Diameter

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Bl ack Rain

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Black Rain, 2010 Resin over Cement on Canvas 130 x 130cm

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Bl ack Rain

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

WATERFALL, 2013 Resin over Cement on Canvas 120 x 120 x 10cm

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Bl ack Rain

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Purple Rain, 2011 Resin over Cement on Canvas 35 x 150cm each

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Bl ack Rain

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Wessex Art project

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Wessex Art project Closed up and side view of artwork

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Misty Morning, 2006 Cement and Acrylic on canvas 120 x 120cm 48


Where d o I begin

Skyline, 2006 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 150 x 150cm 49


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Rain Watching, 2008 Cement and Acyrlic on Canvas 120 x 120cm 50


Where d o I begin

Spacing, 2008 Cement and Enamel Paint on canvas 120 x 120cm 51


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Portable Buildings (Polyptych), 2007 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 35 x 150cm each

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Syst emat ic I n sp i red Paintings

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

River Flow, 2007 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 130 x 130cm 54


Syst emat ic I n sp i red Paintings

Grid View, 2006 Cement over Wood on canvas 50 x 50cm 55


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Intermissions, 2007 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 180 x 150cm 56


Syst emat ic I n sp i red Paintings

Mapping, 2007 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 180 x 150cm 57


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Pool, 2007 Mixed Media on Canvas 120 x 120cm

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Syst emat ic I n sp i red Paintings

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Systematic Inspired Paintings, 2008 Cement and Mix Media on Canvas 30 x 30cm each

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN

1010, 2005 Acylic on canvas 150 x 150cm 62


En ig mat ic I n sp i red paintings

9898, 2005 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 150cm 63


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Concerto, 2006 Acylic on canvas 120 x 120cm 64


En ig mat ic I n sp i red paintings

Fireworks, 2009 Acrylic on canvas 150 x 150cm 65


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Resonating grounds, 2005 Arcylic on canvas 148 x 148cm 66


En ig mat ic I n sp i red paintings

Strawberry Summer, 2006 Arcylic on canvas 120 x 120cm 67


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Across: Slate-blue, 2005 Acrylic on canvas 120 x 120cm

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Following page: Waves, 2009 Acrylic on canvas 200 x 290cm


En ig mat ic I n sp i red paintings

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15 Orange Lines, 2004 Oil on canvas 148 x 148cm 72


C ollec tive Lines

Ambrosia, 2004 Oil on canvas 148 x 148cm 73


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Lagoon, 2005 Acrylic on canvas 74 x 74cm 74


C ollec tive Lines

Waterfall, 2005 Oil on canvas 74 x 74cm 75


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Storm in the evening, 2004 Oil on canvas 74 x 74cm 76


C ollec tive Lines

Storm in the night, 2004 Oil on canvas 74 x 74cm 77


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Rice Field, 2005 Acrylic on canvas 74 x 74cm 78


C ollec tive Lines

Where do I begin, 2004 Mixed Media on canvas 148 x 148cm 79


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

120ml of Pink, 2005 Oil on canvas 148 x 148cm 80


C ollec tive Lines

Forest, 2004 Oil on canvas 74 x 74cm 81


WHE R E D O I BEG IN

Background, 2003 Oil on canvas 180 x 180cm 82


Ab stac t Paintings

Tide Pool, 2004 Oil on Canvas 148 x 148cm 83


Bio graphy

BIOGRAPHY

2007 2003

1997

ED U CAT ION

2007

SYSTEMATIC INSPIRED PAINTINGS Studio Miu Window Gallery, Singapore

MASTER OF ARTS (FINE ARTS) LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore

2006

ENIGMATIC INSPIRED PAINTINGS Studio Miu Window Gallery, Singapore

BACHELOR OF ARTS (FINE ARTS) Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia

2005

MAX KONG SOLO EXHIBITION Sentosa Artist Village Gallery, Singapore

DIPLOMA IN FINE ARTS Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore EDINBURGH STUDY TOUR Edinburgh College of Arts, UK

E XHIBITION S 2013

HISOMUNETSU Kyoto City Museum of Art, Japan

SOLO EX H I B I T ION S 2014

WHERE DO I BEGIN Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore

2012

NOTION OF LIGHT Gallery Shimada, Kobe, Japan

2011

2012

ELEPHANT PARADE SINGAPORE Raffles Place Green/ Singapore Botanic Gardens/ Fullerton Hotel, Singapore 2011

35° OF LIGHT Art-2 Gallery, Singapore

2009

ONE DAY FOREST Tanglin Camp, Singapore A SOLO EXHIBITION BY MAX KONG Galerie Dauphin, Singapore

2008

MAX KONG SOLO EXHIBITION Ishida Taiseisha Hall, Kyoto, Japan RAIN Studio Miu Window Gallery, Singapore

DIVERSECITY 2011 SOTA Gallery, Singapore CONSTRUCT ELEMENTS Ngee Ann Cultural Centre, Singapore

RISING SUN Gallery Edel, Takarazuka, Japan MAX KONG SOLO EXHIBITION Gallery Edel, Takarazuka, Japan

DIVERSECITY 2012 Singapore Art Museum at 8Q, Singapore RESILIENT Kyoto City Museum of Art, Japan

CIRCLE OF LIGHT +case Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

2010

OTHER NATURE Art Forum, Singapore

INTER_PLAY – design/art in Asia Pacific Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore LINK Exhibition Kyoto City Museum of Art, Japan 2010

THE 2010 SOVEREIGN ASIAN ART PRIZE ARTSPACE@Helutrans, Singapore ARTSingapore – Contemporary Asian Art Fair Suntec City Convention Hall, Singapore ARTSingapore Preview @ ION Art Gallery ION Art Gallery, Singapore KOBE ART MARCHE 2010 Portpia Hotel, Kobe, Japan

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WHE R E D O I BEG IN SOARING TO NEW FRONTIERS NAFA Galleries, Singapore

3-MAN ART EXHIBITION IN SEOUL Gallery Cerestar, Seoul, Korea 2009

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR Singapore Expo, Singapore

2004

THE 23rd UOB POY EXHIBITION 2004 Jendela, Esplanade, Singapore WOODLAND: NATURE, ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNITY & ART Woodlands Regional Library, Singapore

2003

PHILLIP MORRIES -ASEAN ART AWARDS ARTrium@MITA, MITA Building, Singapore

DAEGU ART FAIR 2009 EXCO, Daegu, Korea ARTSingapore –Contemporary Asian Art Fair Suntec City Convention Hall, Singapore SMALL SCULPTURE SHOW Sculpture Square, Singapore

NO APOLOGIES 10th RMIT BA Exhibition Earl Lu Gallery I, LASALLE - SIA, Singapore

SINGAPORE ART SHOW 2009 Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

BENEATH THE SURFACE BA Gallery, LASALLE - SIA, Singapore

EXOTICA IN KYOTO Ishida Taiseisha Gallery, Kyoto, Japan FORM + REFORM Ngee Ann Cultural Centre, Singapore

2002

THE 28th UOB POY EXHIBITION 2009 Jendela, Esplanade, Singapore SUMMER PLEASURES A-forest Gallery, New York, USA 2008

NANYANG – 70 YEARS AFTER NAFA Galleries, Singapore

COMPLEMENTARY Earl Lu Gallery II, LASALLE-SIA, Singapore THE ART POWER ON MEKONG RIVER Siam Commercial Bank, Bangkok, Thailand 2001

SENTOSA ARTIST VILLAGE ANNUAL SHOW Sentosa Artist Village Gallery, Singapore ARTIST IN RESIDENCY, SENTOSA Sentosa Artist Village Gallery, Singapore

2000

3 ELEVEN Bs’ Sculpture Square Gallery, Singapore

NO WONDER Praxis Space, LASALLE, Singapore 2007

REFLECTIONS ON THE STROKE Ode to Art Gallery, Singapore SINGAPORE ART SHOW 2007 Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

1998

ART AGAINST AIDS ART COMPETITION HEEREN Shopping Centre, Singapore ARTQUEST ART COMPETITION Orchard Parade Hotel, Singapore

1997

19th SHELL DISCOVERY ART EXHIBITION Caldwell House, CHIJMES, Singapore PRESIDENT’S CHARITY ART EXHIBITION Earl Lu Gallery, LASALLE – SIA, Singapore CRESCENDO NAFA 58TH DIPLOMA SHOW CHIJMES HALL, Singapore

THE 26th UOB POY EXHIBITION 2007 Jendela, Esplanade, Singapore LASALLE Degree Show 07 Earl Lu Gallery I, LASALLE - SIA, Singapore 2006

WORK-IN-PROGRESS Project Space, LASALLE-SIA, Singapore ARTSingapore – Contemporary Asian Art Fair Suntec City Convention Hall, Singapore MINIATURE Project Space, LASALLE-SIA, Singapore

2005

ARTSingapore – Contemporary Asian Art Fair Suntec City Convention Hall, Singapore THE 24th UOB POY EXHIBITION 2005 Jendela, Esplanade, Singapore M9 - SINGAPORE ARTIST IN STYLE Art Seasons Gallery, Singapore

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LANDING SPACE 72-13 Mohamed Sultan, Singapore

DRAWING EXHIBITION Middle Road Gallery, NAFA, Singapore 1996

PHILIPPE CHARRIOL FOUNDATION CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION Centerpoint/ Bugis Junction, Singapore SINGAPORE YOUTH FESTIVAL EXHIBITION Singapore Art Museum THE DELLA BUTCHER AWARD EXHIBITION Rotary Club of Orchard Singapore


AWARDS

AWARDS

Awar d s 2010

2010 Singapore Finalist THE 2010 SOVEREIGN ASIAN ART PRIZE

2009

Platinum Award – Open Section THE 28th UOB PAINTING OF THE YEAR COMPETITION 2009

1996

Kg Glam Diploma Art Scholarship Award National Art Council Arts Bursary Award

2007

Highly Commended – Open Section THE 26th UOB PAINTING OF THE YEAR COMPETITION 2007

2006

LASALLE-SIA Scholarship – For MA Studies LASALLE-SIA College of Arts, Singapore

2005

Highly Commended – Open Section THE 24th UOB PAINTING OF THE YEAR COMPETITION 2005

2004

Certificate of Distinction – Open Section THE 23rd UOB PAINTING OF THE YEAR COMPETITION 2004

2003

Honourable Mention PHILLIP MORRIES SINGAPORE-ASEAN ART AWARDS 2003

2002

National Art Council Arts Bursary Award (Local)

1998

2nd Prize in Open Category-Red Ribbon Awards ART AGAINST AIDS Competition/Exhibition

NAFA Merit Award - Excellent Academic Performance Certificate of Distinction PHILIPPE CHARRIOL FOUNDATION Certificate of Merit THE DELLA BUTCHER AWARD 1995

NAFA Bursary Award

Certificate of Merit ARTQUEST Nation-wide Art Competition 1997

Certificate of Participation 19th SHELL DISCOVERY ART NAFA Merit Award Excellent Academic Performance

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MAX KONG WHERE DO I BEGIN First published 2014 on the occasion of Max Kong’s Solo Exhibition “Where Do I Begin” Held at Ode to Art Raffles City, Singapore Ode To Art Raffles City 252 North Bridge Road, Raffles City Shopping Centre, #01-36E/F, Singapore 179103 T +65 6250 1901 F +65 6250 5354 Ode To Art Kuala Lumpur 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, The Pavilion, #06-24E/F, Kuala Lumpur 55100, Malaysia Tel: +603 2148 9816 Fax: +603 2142 6816 info@odetoart.com odetoart.com © Ode To Art 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Measurements of artworks are given in centimeters


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Where Do I begin — Max Kong