Self-taught deaf artist strives for success


THERE are many ways to cope with difficulties and challenges.


For 34-year-old Louis Gan who was born deaf, he did not see his disability as a disadvantage.


“Being deaf can be challenging sometimes, but it is just a small challenge for me. I believe that with a strong will, nothing is impossible,” he told Buletin Mutiara recently.


Born in Malacca, Gan moved to Penang at the age of one or two.




He is a self-taught freelance artist who has gained much local attention following his success in painting mural arts in Penang. Among his artworks in Penang were the ‘Brother and Sister on a Swing’ on a wall in an alley off Chulia Street Ghaut, and the ‘Children Playing the BasketBall’ in Chulia Street Ghaut.


“I have travelled to various places in Malaysia to share my artworks. I have created many arts and murals in Bentong, Pahang; Kuala Lumpur; and Johor.


“I have never taken formal art lessons. I learn how to draw and paint through watching videos and practising.


“One of my biggest achievements was painting a 40ft-tall mural in Bentong, Pahang. A crane was needed for me to complete the project,” he said during an interview at the Pusat Perkhidmatan Setempat Nelayan (PPSN) in Permatang Damar Laut.


Gan had recently completed another mural at PPSN Permatang Damar Laut, depicting the future that the Penang South Islands project (PSI) would create for the state, especially for the local fishermen.


The mural by Gan at PPSN Permatang Damar Laut.


“I started painting the mural end of August, and I completed it after about two weeks,” he spoke about the 23ft by 8.2ft mural.


Gan said he enjoyed seeing people appreciating art.


“I hope that my mural can encourage more people to visit the centre and take photos with the mural,” he said.


Before becoming a freelance artist, Gan studied Diploma in Graphic Design at KDU College Penang (now UOW Malaysia KDU Penang University College).


He chose to embrace his love for art after he completed his studies.


“I love art. I have seen and visited many art exhibitions, and they inspired me to also do my best in what I do. Besides painting murals, I also paint illustrations and draw caricatures.


“One of my favourite artists is the late American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).”


It is learnt that Sargent was considered the leading portrait painter of his generation and had created about 900 oil paintings and over 2,000 watercolours. It was reported that Sargent also practised his form of realism at a time when the art world focused, in turn, on impressionism, fauvism and cubism.


Gan said he has not planned anything big for now.


“I want to focus on improving my art and finding inspiration. I thank my family members for supporting my passion for art,” he said.


In his tips to aspiring young artists, Gan advised them to be patient and keep practising.


“Always remember, practice makes perfect,” he said.


Meanwhile, Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said the corporation treasured local talents like Gan.


“We appreciate and want to develop local talents like Gan, who is a gifted artist from Balik Pulau.


“His masterpiece at PPSN Permatang Damar Laut showcased the bright future that the PSI project could provide to the fishermen, the local folk in the area, and to Penang,” Farizan said.



Story by Christopher Tan

Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud