top of page



b. Penang, 1941 – 2019

Artist Biography

Ong Soo Keat is a famous Malaysian wildlife painter and stamps designer. A nature lover, Ong documented enthusiastically on various wild animals, especially birds, painting them proficiently on canvas and paper. His wildlife and marine animal paintings were frequently featured on Malaysia’s national postal stamps designs (1979, 1987, 1988, 1990 & 1993), with his stamp design - “The Clouded Leopard” winning the Best Stamp Design Award in 1987. In 1975, Ong was invited to exhibit in a group exhibition showcasing paintings of endangered species at Tryon Gallery, London. His one-man shows were held at Younie Gallery (2012), Sri Mutiara Art Gallery (2011), The Art Gallery (1991), Penang Museum and Art Gallery (1977) and more. Major group exhibitions include “Wild Life” at the Art Gallery, Penang (1998) as well as the “Second Generation Penang Painters’ Exhibition” at Gallery Mar Visa Resort Penang (1993) and Penang Arts Centre Gallery (1993).

The artwork listed here was created by Ong following a crucial episode in his life in 2004, when a sudden stroke paralysed the right side of the artist’s body. Being right-handed, the faltering health condition caused massive negative impacts both physically and spiritually, and he was forced to cease painting. During the dark times, Ong suffered from depression, even thinking of giving up his own life. However, as a brave life fighter, he mustered up his strength and decided to start everything from zero by training his left hand, in hope to regain the capability of drawing what he loves for. With relentless persistency and immense patience, he successfully recovered his drawing skills, allowing his left hand to masterfully control oil colour.

This painting, with its sense of childlike innocence and humbleness, seems to symbolize not only the artist's artistic revival but also the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The kingfisher, with the liveliness and confidence it conveys, carries a spark of hope, a testament to Ong’s courage, passion, and rejuvenated sense of freedom. It is certainly a powerful reminder of the ability of art to express the depths of human experience and emotion.

Abstract Wavy Object

View the artist's works here

bottom of page