Artist Margaret Lau On Her Artistic Journey In Painting Hyper-Realistic Local Snacks

At her retrospective solo art exhibition, Margaret Lau reflects on her early days of starting the journey of painting local snacks in Malaysia. 

Margaret Lau

A former ARB-certified architect, Margaret Lau who is now a full-time artist has a distinctive and exceptional approach to making her art. Interplaying between the realistic element and sentimental values, Margaret incorporated them through her drawings of nostalgic snacks with outstanding details resembling that of a photo. An expression of culture to communicate with audiences is what makes art so appealing to the masses and this is successfully portrayed through the Hyper-Realistic painting by Margaret Lau in her recent art exhibition.

My Own Experience Walking Through Her Exhibition

Margaret Lau
A display of hyper-realistic paintings at the art exhibition in Avenue K

I went to the exhibition last 26 October and was greeted with a surge of nostalgic feelings as soon as I walk through the atrium of Avenue K. The scintillating paintings are accompanied by a witty display of childhood snacks. An abundance of local snacks was also pinned to a motorbike, much like the snack vendor we often saw after school, which makes one can’t help but reminisce about their younger days throughout the exhibition. 

Margaret Lau’s fascination with local snacks can be observed from her tasteful rendition of the packaging, which is illustrated through her multiples painting that could easily be mistaken as the real thing, if not because of the obvious difference in sizes. It gains a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience and myself included, as we are all captivated by how something so simple could be made into art so precious and personal to the onlookers. Walking down memory lane, these hyper-realistic paintings refreshed the sentimental values of childhood memories, an upending of the past to make sense of one’s present. 

According to the artist Margaret Lau, what started as a housewife hobby grows into a strong artistic endeavor for her,  where her paintings continue to inspire art enthusiasts to a much simpler time, bonding over the same favorite snacks.  This Cambridge University graduate also added how she starts to take her interest in painting more seriously during the lockdown period in 2020. During those uncertain times, Margaret embarks on her journey of painting snacks and rekindling her love for them as an outlet to alleviate the pressure from being locked down, both for herself and others.  It has been a pleasant experience for her, despite the limited movement and caveat imposed because of the pandemic.

Margaret Lau
A picture of me holding Popo Muruku Ikan in front of Margaret’s painting.

An Exclusive Interview With Margaret Lau

Margaret Lau
An interview with the artist, Margaret Lau (left).

In addition, Margaret sees her hours spent painting as escapism, a familiar place of comfort during trying times. Only a few months ago Margaret’s exquisite pieces were sold out at the Affordable Art Fair Exhibition in Hong Kong, proving that her interest in painting is so much more than a pastime, but rather a resounding success that generates precious pieces celebrated by many. In a recent chat with Margaret, she discusses her challenges in venturing into the creative ground : 

What inspires you to choose nostalgic snacks as your source of inspiration? 

Margaret Lau: Snack is affordable and easily reachable to everybody and personally during Covid times, people are faced with limitations, especially in terms of movement.  However, they can still order the snacks online and have them in the comfort of their home, munching away when they feel down and depressed. Once I decided to go for local snacks, I started asking around among my friends about Malaysian local snacks and started painting. 

Are there any other subjects that you are interested in or would you stick to local snacks as your sole inspiration for upcoming works? 

Margaret Lau: On top of having a few commissions lined up for this such as the Haribo series and Cheetos, I will continue to draw local snacks and hopefully establish myself as a Hyper-Realistic Snack Artist in other countries possibly Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan as there are an unlimited amount of snacks to paint around the world. 

Margaret Lau
My favorite childhood snack, Apollo Chocolate Wafer Cream.

Was there any memorable experience throughout your journey in participating in an art exhibition? 

Margaret Lau: During the show in Hong Kong I was approached by this ecstatic lady from Shanghai and she was so excited to see her childhood snacks on the display. She hasn’t gone home for a long time and was very thankful to me for drawing a part of her younger days. Seeing her happy invoke a thought from within, and I come to the realization that I am making people happy and am actually providing solace to some people in these difficult times. 

Out of plenty of styles in drawing such as expressionism and abstract, why do you choose Hyper-Realistic? 

Margaret Lau: Because of my background as an architect in training, for me, things have to be very accurate and realistic. I love to draw what I see and translate it into my painting, putting time into the details so it comes out looking as realistic as possible. 

Margaret Lau
A picture of me holding a White Rabbit candy in front of a hyper-realistic painting of it.

In a much light-hearted tone, in drawing various tributes to local snacks, how do you keep yourself so fit despite being constantly exposed to them?

Margaret Lau: Well there’s a secret to this, I tend to eat more savory snacks rather than the sweet types and while I love drawing the colorful packaging of snacks, I am not a big fan of snacking. 

The Nostalgic Snacks Hyper-Realistic Art Exhibition by the artist, Margaret Lau will be open to the public in Avenue K from 25 to 30 October, where it features 22 of her hyper-realism paintings which include all-time favorites such as Super-Ring, Mamee, Popo Muruku, and Cheezels. So catch the exhibition while you can!

Just a delusional 20-something, trying to make sense of this crazy world.







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