From ‘Artist wrote Lee Kuan Yew’s name 18,000 times to create this portrait’, 21 March 2015, Asiaone.
Artist Ong Yi Teck has created a mind-blowing sketch of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew by writing Mr Lee’s name approximately 18,000 times. A photo of Mr Ong holding his drawing was posted on Instagram on Saturday.Using only drawing pens with no correction fluid or tape, Mr Ong said he took over “15 hours or so of torturous handwriting session”.
According to him, this is the first time he is attempting to sketch on an A2-sized paper and also the first time he has drawn for nearly 10 hours in one day.
As the former prime minister remains in critical condition at time of writing, Singaporeans from all walks of life continue to throng SGH with gifts and tributes, and there’s no ode more outstanding than one transforming LKY into a painstaking piece of art. Writing ‘Lee Kuan Yew’ 18000 times sounds like a punishment a patriotic history teacher would dish out on a student for getting the date of our Independence wrong. Trust an artist like Ong to turn what to most people is torture into an impressive tribute.
Like Ong, digital artist Kevin Sim created a composite image of LKY using images of bundles of wire late last year. Not sure what the significance of wire is. Maybe something to do with how ‘connected’ Singapore has become.
Kim Dong Yoo did another of LKY made up completely of images of Queen Elizabeth (2010), probably a reference to Lee’s relationship with our colonial masters when he was first starting to reboot the nation.
Though we’re unlikely to see Chairman Mao levels of mass hysteria when the legend meets his maker, I’m certain Singaporeans will never have the same love-hate relationship for another leader as we do now for LKY, a man some have referred to as ‘Emperor‘, the ‘Old Man’ or more affectionately ‘Ah Gong’. We don’t seem to have the same reverence for Sir Stamford Raffles. As the founder of Singapore, he probably deserves more respect than being depicted as a pompous pansy in this sketch. In time to come, our children will think that LKY was the one who founded the nation, not some prim Englishman who’s also named after a large, stinky flower.
For centuries, supreme leaders have been canonised like saints or immortalised through statues, monuments or literary works. They were named after roads, buildings and schools or in the instance of modern rulers like Che Guevara, turned into pop culture icons. Lee Kuan Yew has the distinction of having the World City Prize named after him, among other awards and accolades. There have been calls to even name a ‘capital city‘ in his honour. The man also, for better or worse, has been the subject of other creative tributes, as a cartoon, a bobblehead doll, and works of art verging on ‘dictator-chic’. Soon, we may have a hipster cafe with an LKY theme called ‘Merdeka Coffee’. Amazingly, it didn’t take long for people to admire LKY enough to paint him. In 1968, our ‘Premier Lee’ was the subject in two of Barbara Gough’s ‘Pictures for the Home’ collection. His Lee-gacy, from the irreverent to the god-like, will live on for generations to come.
Here then, is a rundown of artistic tributes to the icon himself:
1) As a Pez dispenser named ‘Papa’
2) Street Art (sKLo)
3) Madame Tussauds wax figure with late wife
4) LKY: K-pop star (a painting you can purchase here for 1750 USD)
5) LKY backpack
6) In a collection of political cartoons (Morgan Chua)
7) As a meme
8) This. Well, it’s the thought that counts.
9) This is the absolute cutest of the lot. And oh, the LKY as Yoda pic is cool as well (Chan Shiuan). For more images of LKY as Judge Dredd, Emperor Palpatine or Magneto, go to her website here.
10) And this, well, is just bizarre (Jimmy Ong, LKY as mother and daughter, 2010)
UPDATE: LKY passed away on Monday morning 23 March 15. He was 91. RIP.