Low Hai Hong was born in Indonesia in 1941 and moved to Singapore, where he attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1961. At the institution, Low studied Western Painting under pioneer artist Georgette Chen. He frequented Indonesia in the 1990s, returning to his hometown and seeing other parts of Indonesia, such as Jakarta and Bali. The artist exhibited his impressive oil paintings in seven solo shows, each featuring an exquisite collection derived from his travels.
Barong is a mythical creature often perceived as a fearsome beast, revered as a leader of the good and a protector spirit of the village. The beliefs of the barong are rooted in the supernatural protective power of animals, where ritualistic masked dances are performed as part of a ceremony that narrates the fight between good and evil. Here, the ornate mask takes centre stage against a backdrop of drama and mystery. Low is deft in capturing the barong’s demeanour, not overly detailed as a graphic rendering, but instead a series of vivid and brilliant layers. Dots appear to dance across the board’s surface, which creates undulating marks with dynamic tonal values.