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Alvin Ong


Alvin Ong (b. 1988, Singapore) synthesizes histories, mythologies and folk-forms into surreal improvisations and non-linear narratives. The contemporary artist works with historical and cinematic material, fluidly recombining these pictorial sources in his painting practice as explorations of memory, loss and nostalgia. As the artist claims, he finds himself drawn to the spirit of human encounter, when one being encounters another human presence. Ong’s latest paintings are exuberant and erotic depictions of figures suspended between moments of extreme pleasure and pain. The body is unapologetically exposed in its cravings. Bodily appetites are rendered in grotesque flourishes, redolent with black humour.

Ong completed a BFA at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford in 2016, and an MA at Royal College of Art in 2018 supported by the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. At the age of 16, he became the youngest winner of the UOB Painting of the Year Award, Singapore (2005) and a year later, he had his first solo exhibition in the presence of his excellency President S. R. Nathan at Jendela, Esplanade.  He was awarded a residency in 2017 with the Royal Drawing School, as well as the 2018 Chadwell Award. His works have been exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum (2007, 2012, 2013), Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore (2010), Peranakan Museum, Singapore (2015), Northampton Contemporary, UK (2017) and National Portrait Gallery, UK (2018). He currently lives and works in both Singapore and London.


Selected Exhibitions


Long Distance, Yavuz Gallery, Sidney (SOLO)

Art Basel Hong Kong, Yavuz Gallery

Group Show, Coda Culture, Singapore


Asia Now Paris, Paris, France

Summer Exhibition, Daniel Benjamin Gallery, London, UK

Art Jakarta, Yavuz gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia 

Art Basel Hong Kong, Yavuz Gallery

Jealous Prize, Jealous East, London, UK 

Supper Club, (SOLO), Yavuz Gallery, Singapore

Raw Forms, Coda Culture, Singapore,  

Deviations, 59 Hackney Road, London, UK 



BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK 

All you can see, Rizzuto Gallery, Palermo, Italy 

Thumbnails, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art, London, UK 

HIX Award, Coutts Bank, Mayfair, London, UK



Fiction of Precision, AGAS, Singapore

Bilateral Bonds, Taksu Gallery, Singapore

WIP Show, Royal College of Art, London, UK 

And then..., NN Contemporary, Northampton, UK 



We will meet, (SOLO), Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore, Ruskin Degree show, Oxford, UK 



Passages, (SOLO), UOB Art Gallery, Singapore

Common Ground, Shophouse 5, Singapore

Great Peranakans, Peranakan Museum, Singapore

Fresh Takes, Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore


Creation, SJI Art Alumni Show, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore


Altering Alvar Aalto, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore



AEP Biennial Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore 

The Best of UOB: 1982-2007, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore



The Hours,(SOLO) Jendela (Visual Arts Space)Esplanade, Singapore


Awards and Residencies



Ingram Purchase Prize 

Jealous Prize



Chadwell Award



Griffin Art Prize, Longlist

HIX Art Award, Finalist

Royal Drawing School residency, Dumfries House, Scotland



Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant

Red Mansion Art Prize Shortlist



United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Award




Who are you my country (Cover artwork), ed. Kwek, Jesudason & Prasad, Landmark Books



Oxford Poetry (cover artwork), Winter 2016/17, XVI.III



Theophilus Kwek, Giving Ground (Cover design and illustrations), Ethos Books



A Splendid Kindred Soul, with Simon King, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford



The Portrait Speaks, with various portrait sitters, NUS Baba House, Singapore


Selected Press

“年轻画家王亮杰视作画如烹饪”, 联合早报, 6 March, 2019.

Art Week 2019: Drama at its Finest”, The Business Times, 1 February 2019.

Floorr magazine interview, Floorr, 2 October 2018.

"Alvin Ong on designing covers using the language of collage", Ethos Books, 2 August 2018.

Youngspace artist interview,, 27 July 2018.

"This chimerical mode of working is what excites me...", ArtMaze Magazineinterview, 23 June 2018.

"BP Portrait Award 2018 - review", in Timeout London, 13 June 2018.
"Unfinished & Abandoned Art - in Singaporean Artists' Studios", in The New York Times Style Magazine, 17 January 2018

"Alvin Ong: Youthful artist with an old soul", in A Baba Album(KAH, ed. E. Koh, 2017), Peter Wee, pp. 64-5, 280-5

"Walking the pilgrim's way", Cherwell, 30 January, 2017  

"Passages", exhibition catalogue, 19 August - 28 September, 2015

"前得奖者双人展年轻画家一展写实功力",联合早报, 17 September, 2015

"Chan Hampe Galleries' Shophouse 5 in Geylang", Blouin Artinfo Southeast Asia, 26 August, 2015

"Art comes home", TimeOutSingapore, August 2015, p. 58-59

"A Young Painter's Promise", the Peranakan, Issue 01/15, p. 40-1

"The Straits Chinese and Civic Portraiture in Singapore", in Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives (ACM, 2015), Daphne Ang, p. 46

"Crisp Perspectives at Chan Hampe Galleries", SingArt, 23 March, 2015

"Fresh Takes", TimeOut Singapore, 9 March, 2015

"SG Inspiration: Alvin Ong", Stooffi, 22 February, 2015

"Check out past 10 winners of the UOB POY prize", ST Lifestyle, 21 November, 2014

"Reviving a Tradition", Portraits of the Straits, 16 January, 2014

"Ex-SJI Students Display Artworks at Museum", CatholicNews, 22 September, 2013, Vol 63, No. 18

"Presenting Portraiture Series | The Portrait Speaks", NUS Museum, 6 March, 2013

"Two Young Winners Choose Art for Life", The Sunday Times, 15 July, 2012

"Young artist paints for the greater glory of God", CatholicNews, 30 August, 2009

"Review: The 25th POY Competition", Artreview Boonscafe, 24 September, 2006

"The Artist's Window - Interview with Alvin Ong", exhibition catalogue

"50 Young People to Watch", The Straits Times, 1 October, 2005

"Unlikely Prodigy", Elite, August 2005, Issue 4

"16岁学生窗外的孤独世界", 联合早报, 18 July, 2005

"Art in the Dark", Today, 18 July, 2005 

"Boy, Uninterrupted", The Straits Times, 18 July, 2005

"Teen is youngest winner of top art award", The Sunday Times, 17 July, 2005




Royal College of Art, London


Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

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