Kean Onn See

Vale Joey, 2021

78 × 103 cm
This is a eulogy to Joey, a baby kangaroo found dead, face down, in what was left of the septic tank of our house in Lake Conjola after the 2019 NYE Currowan Fire.

It was most likely Joey escaped the fire but sadly met her death by drinking or falling into the poisonous water.

It was 38 degrees by 8.30am on the morning of NYE 2019. My partner and I evacuated from our house amid blood-red sky and searing heat just hours before the fire razed the house to the ground. It was difficult to go back to inspect the damage a few days after the fire. Finding Joey dead in our backyard was the saddest of all moments.

We sobbed.

When the painting was composed I knew many viewers, at first glance, would not know what they were looking at. This is precisely the point. The hole in the ground is in fact a grave. It was exactly how I felt when I found Joey. I did not see her at first sight, it was the stench that led me to her.

“Vale Joey” took six months to complete. It was an emotional and rewarding journey, from its beginning to its end.
Kean Onn See’s paintings are drawn, carved, and then painted on woodblock. Every stage of this creative process requires a different set of skills, which must come together technically and creatively, to form the finished work. Every work begins on paper. The image is then transferred to a woodblock. Using both traditional and modern engraving tools, the lines of the image are carefully carved to achieve the desired textures. Finally, the carved woodblock is sanded, before it is lightly painted with at least four layers of acrylic. The goal is to create textures by layering the paints strategically, and at the same time, revealing the natural grain of the woodblock. Primarily self-taught, Kean Onn See started painting as a hobby in his early 30s and pursued this interest while working full-time. Over the years, he has experimented with different media and genres before fInally adopting painting on carved woodblock as his preferred medium. Inspired by the process of Japanese woodblock prints, and his love of carving and painting, he continues to explore new techniques and tools to further develop this meticulous way of making art. Kean Onn See was born in Malaysia and now lives and works in Sydney.
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