PETALING JAYA, May 4 — Malaysian artist Choong Chee Leong generated a buzz online when he debuted a unique screw artwork depicting Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
As a tribute to the doctor’s hard work in leading Malaysia’s fight against Covid-19, Choong, fondly known as Ahguu, decided to craft the art piece and share it with fellow Malaysians on his Facebook page.
“(Dr Noor Hisham) is a respected person for the way he’s handled Covid-19 and a lot of people see him as a good and humble leader.
“I think he deserves to be honoured and I just wanted to do something to pay tribute to the hard work he’s done,” Choong told Malay Mail.
The 33-year-old has been experimenting with string art for the past few years and wanted to pose a new challenge to himself by using screws as an art material.
He started by sketching Dr Noor Hisham’s likeness and used it as a reference as he painstakingly drilled the screws onto the board by hand.
The process took two weeks to complete and involved 4,219 screws in total.
Choong said that doing artwork with materials like screws and string was a “gamble” because one would not know if the portrait actually resembled the person until it was finished.
“Every individual screw needs to be very precise.
“There’s some touching up at the end to make Dr Noor Hisham’s features pop out, but in general the screws have to be exactly where they need to be.
“Otherwise, it’ll end up looking like another person.”
Choong added that precision was key because if a screw was drilled into the wrong place on the board, there would be a hole once it was removed and corrections would be difficult.
An art lover since young, the Perak-born creative turned his hobby of woodworking and crafting into a business when he set up Ahguu Handcraft five years ago.
He makes a living in the tobacco industry by day but pursues his passion for art during the weekends, making handmade decorations, wood furniture, and customised commissions for clients.
It’s not Choong’s first time crafting an art piece for a Malaysian icon as he previously made a string artwork depicting Datuk Lee Chong Wei in conjunction with the badminton champion’s retirement in June 2019.
Like many other Malaysians, Choong has been staying indoors during the movement control order (MCO) and said that working on his art has been a therapeutic escape amidst the widespread anxiety and unease over the pandemic.
“Focusing on artwork requires 100 per cent concentration and you will be able to have a short escape from whatever problem you’re facing.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of crisis is out there or whatever personal struggles I’m going through.”
“You have your own space for a couple of hours and I love the calm that it brings, it keeps me going.”
Facebook users have been giving Choong’s portrait of Dr Noor Hisham two thumbs up and many are hoping that the artist will be able to present the art piece to him in person once the MCO is lifted.
“Please present this to him. Good job, buddy. Extreme patience and skill,” said Krish Shiva.
“An awesome piece of art for an awesome man,” wrote Adam Abdullah.