Teen Prodigy

Teen prodigy shows his artistic side

Leisure Farm Resort residents were privileged to view the inaugural solo art exhibition by Yap Hanzhen, a 13-year old special artist when it opened on 17 September 2011.  The exhibition presented in the theme, “Of Obedience, Solitude and Beauty,” is hosted by Leisure Farm Resort Corporation and Mulpha International.  Pencil sketches of dogs, cats and butterflies are at RM50 per piece and profits from the sale will be channeled to the Kiwanis Careheart Centre school fund. 

Hanzhen was diagnosed as autistic when he was aged 2 and his parents Yap Yew Peng and Yvonne Yap, both architects, believe that the creative environment at home helped to develop his language through drawing.  To expand his vocabulary and to communicate with him, they encouraged him to draw objects and label them.  So Hanzhen started to draw everything – from everyday items at home to what he saw when they were on holiday – often with great detail and accuracy.

He was home-schooled until age 7 before he joined a mainstream private school and successfully completed the UPSR exam.  He is now in Year Seven of the International section of the school which supports and recognizes each individual’s creative talents.  Hanzhen also plays the piano and attempted the Grade 4 exam as a normal candidate.

Besides art and music, Hanzhen’s memory capability is so advanced that he can easily compute numbers, especially calendar dates and days.  The family enjoys playing “Scrabble” together and as Hanzhen memorized the words used in previous games, he is able to make those words again, often scoring higher than everyone.  Two years ago, Hanzhen started sketching as a hobby and by drawing in a daily routine he has filled up dozens of sketch books with fascinating drawings.

Recently Hanzhen’s sketches caught the interest of Velvet House, an international boutique, and discussions are underway to have work commissioned for Hanzhen to be used with specialty merchandise for local and international markets.  Publicity and income generated from this would be channeled back to non-profit organizations to create better public awareness in autism.

“Hanzhen’s autistic attributes of memory and attention to details surely gave him an edge to be a good artist,” said Yap.  “His fine motor movement is very good and he can control the pencil like an extension of his fingers, letting him create highly advanced gray scale tones,” he added.

Yap Hanzhen [Left] with his father, Yap Yew Peng
[2nd from Left] and brother Yap Zhihan [Bottom Right]
hanging up his sketches at exhibition held with
Leisure Farm Resort, Johor
“If he continues drawing, we would like him to advance to formal art education at a reputable institution to explore his talent further when he finishes his secondary school,” said Yvonne.

This exhibition is in line with Mulpha’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme for the community as Leisure Farm recognizes the special talent in disability and is committed to support the campaign for autism awareness. 

“We are proud to host Hanzhen’s inaugural exhibition at Leisure Farm that features selected pieces from his Black and White collection,” said Ronn Yong, Deputy Chief Executive Office of Leisure Farm Resort Sdn Bhd.  

Visit: www.hanzhen.org for more information on Hanzhen’s art.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 13 October 2011

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