State of his art
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 14 February 2017)
ACCORDING to renowned psychiatrist Dr Darold Treffert, savant syndrome is a condition in which a person with a developmental disorder demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities in far excess of what would be considered normal.
Despite being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at the age of five, Delwin Cheah Wien Loong scored 114 on a non-verbal IQ test, which is higher than average. Additionally, his passion for drawing has led him to become not only the youngest Malaysian savant artist to hold a solo exhibition, but also the world's youngest.
His biggest achievement is receiving two letters of praise from former President of the United States, Barack Obama which catapulted him to fame overnight. Even Queen Elizabeth II sent the 13-year-old a letter of praise through the British Ambassador to Malaysia.
"It used to be nothing special for Delwin, but nowadays he would tell people what he has achieved and succeeded in. He feels happy after completing and achieving something, but he doesn't boast," said Lawrence Cheah, Delwin's father who spoke to us on his behalf.
Where does his passion for art come from?
I think art is an expression of his deep passion for animals. He is always searching for information about animals of the farm, in the wild, or during prehistory. His classmates call him WAW or 'Walking Animals' Wikipedia', while some call him the Little Animal Scientist.
How has his art evolved, and how did it change him?
His artworks have become more detailed, and he has started applying different self-styled strokes. Some veteran artists have praised him for his maturity beyond his years in terms of his imagination and illustration. He began to change from a daydreamer to an alert teen. He has developed the level of curiosity for his surroundings that lapsed during his early years.
Does Delwin have a working style?
He doesn't work for anyone but himself. Nobody can influence his style or artworks. The themes are straightforward: animals, jungles, fantasy, human revolution, and nature.
Having met countless VIPs, how is he with people?
He would greet people politely, whether or not they are VIPs. He doesn't give special acknowledgement or attention to anyone. For him, his school principal and the prime minister are on the same level. In other words, he is a non-elitist.
Could you share about his latest venture?
He was featured in Chef Nic, a travelogue and cooking reality show starring Hong Kong actor and singer Nicholas Tse, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and Patrick Tse. They selected his artwork as part of the background in the show's prop restaurant. It was our first time on a TV show, and everything during production had to be on schedule. Thankfully, Delwin could adapt to it.
What are your hopes and dreams for him?
We just want him to live happily and become independent one day. Delwin said he wants to become an animal scientist and artist. We can help by providing him education and allowing him to explore a normal life. Nobody knows how they will turn out to be, but if you don't help them now, they will not be able to go anywhere.
Message to the world: Always stay humble and kind.
Quote to live by: "They laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at them because they are the same."
Favourite animals: Tiger, zebra, elephant, rhino, giraffe, orang utan and lion.
His wish: To meet former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
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