Book Review: Re-child by Zeen Chin

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Have you ever been to an art gallery where you are attracted by a painting, and would admire it much longer there than other paintings? It's like you want to move on so that you can see all the other artworks but you can't because the one right in front of you is just too good and you are reluctant to walk away? I just had exactly the same feeling while I was looking at his artbook by Malaysian artist Zeen Chin.

Re-Child is a large format 112-page hardcover, about A3 in size, and uses matte paper.

Zeen Chin has worked in the art industry for more than 10 years. He has worked in 2D and 3D animation studios, created art for gaming cards, and also does concept design.

This artbook, from what I can tell, features only his personal works. It's a collection of paintings and sketches. The works revolve around ghosts and a Mipo (sharman) clad in Japanese costume. These works are inspired by Zeen Chin who grew up living next to a Taoist temple where ghost stories were told at the occasional open air cinemas at night. Re-child is a way for him to recollect his childhood memories and to reinterpret them. The use of the Japanese costume is because he likes the Japanese culture, and he cites Katsuya Terada has one of his inspirations.

The paintings in this book are absolutely stunning. There's the element of mystery because they involve ghosts and sharman. The ghosts look like little children except with horns. The colour palette is weirdly alluring and soft, almost pastel like, without the blacks or high constrast commonly associated with concept art.

When I looked at the paintings the first time, I thought they were traditionally painted but I later found out that they were digitally paintings. Whether digital or traditional, it doesn't matter because the art is good. Zeen Chin is an exceptional painter. The light, shadows and ideas play together wonderfully. As I look at all the human-like characters and how the shadows fall on them, I'm pretty sure he must have used some sort of model reference because they are rendered so realistically that it would be incredible if they were from his mind.

The last few pages collect black and white line art where the ideas could be further developed into paintings. They look great.

The choice of using a large format book to present the paintings is the right choice. The art deserves to be printed and viewed large.

Re-child is easily one of best artbooks in 2017. Highly recommended.

It may be difficult to find this book because it was printed in limited copics, and Zeen Chin is said to be working on his second artbook. You can find the book at Basheer Graphic Books if it's still in stock.

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