Options: How did your interest in art begin?
Datin Jessica Lai-Ong: I’ve always loved creating — and creativity. I graduated from the Malaysian Institute of Arts as a visualiser. From there, I worked in the creative department of an advertising agency, did product marketing and even cake designing. I started painting on canvas just before the pandemic hit. For Kita, I applied my cake-designing skills onto the canvas, creating abstract works in the process simply by applying acrylic paint and oil pastels using spatulas and cake nozzles. You could say I paint as though I am decorating a cake. This is all part of my learning and exploration, and I am having lots of fun.
Tell us about the pieces exhibited.
Seven of my artworks were selected but all are abstract expressions of a place or a person. I am very happy to be part of a big group of 40 artists, all from various races and backgrounds, and even the title Kita embodies our collective commitment to encourage dialogue, celebrate diversity and build connections with people of all walks of life.
What are some of your favourite sources of inspiration?
It is always the places I have visited before. For example, The Geisha is, of course, inspired by travels to Japan. I am also an avid hiker, and the many unique plants and fungi I encountered proved very interesting and inspiring. Ola was from my most recent trip to Spain, where I walked the famous pilgrim’s trail of Santiago de Compostela.
Who are some of the artists you look up to?
Vincent van Gogh for his boldness with lines, tones and colour and how he somehow manages to express his feelings in his art. Another is Antoni Gaudi, whose creations are always inspired by nature.
What do you want people to feel when they see your artworks?
To feel my sense of expression or to be able to relate to it somehow in their own lives. Right now, the works are bold, loud and often complemented with glitter. It’s a lot of fun but, of course, I am still learning. There is so much more to explore in this journey as an artist.
'Kita Art Exhibition' is on until July 29 at GMBB, Jalan Robertson, Kuala Lumpur.
This article first appeared on July 17, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.