Dr. Chew is an associate professor of the Art Centre at University Sains Malaysia, Penang. Previous to that, he was the head of the Painting and Printmaking departments, Siena Heights College, Michigan, U.S.A. before returning to Malaysia in 1972, to establish the Fine Arts Programme for USM.
He is probably the most qualified artist in the country with a Ph.D.in Fine Arts from New York University. His early art education was as an apprentice to his father who was a commercial artist and teacher. He also studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art and the University of Michigan. His two brothers are also artists and in 1965, they held the Chew Brothers Art Exhibition at British Council, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Polytechnic.
He had held 15 one-man exhibitions to date, the latest being at Galericitra, Kuala Lumpur in March 1990. His previous efforts were at Samat Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (1967), Allen Rubiner Gallery, Detroit (1968), Forsythe Gallery, Ann Arbor (1969, 1972) Georgetown Gallery, Washington D.C. (1969), Little Gallery, Birmingham (1969), The International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C. (1970), Studio Angelico Little Gallery, Michigan (1971), Goshen College Art Gallery, Indiana (1971), USM Museum and Gallery, Penang (1972), East and West Art, Victoria, Australia (1980), Green Hill Galleries, Adelaide (1980), and Galericitra, Kuala Lumpur (1987).
In addition to teaching art, he is also involved in research in papermaking and the aesthetics of paper art. No techniques is sacrosanct. Often, his paper is subjected to one or more processes of enhancing tactile awareness, such as layering, punching, stamping, sponging, punching and embedding. He pioneered several new techniques (including painting on wrinkled paper) which are admired and copied by other artists.
His handmade paper from the beaten fibres of the banana and pineapple plants has achieved international acclaim for its pliability, permanence and absorbency. Applying his delicate and imaginative colours to his handmade paper surfaces with the intrinsic irregularities, holes and uneven edges, he creates attractive masterpieces of high visual aesthetic qualities.
His notable awards include the Frank Sullivan Prize (1964), Fulbright Hays Scholarship (1967-68), the British Council Visitorship (1975), the Australian Government Cultural Award (1978), The Australian Crafts Council Teaching Awaed, and recently he was awarded R & D grants from the Malaysian Government to research the indigenous plants for the manufacture of pulp and paper from 1989 to 1991. His painting won the First Prize at the BAA 1st Juried Exhibition of Michigan Painting 1968.
His works have been featured in countless books, newspapers and magazines all over the world, including Men of Achievement Vol. 7; Dictionary of International Biography Vol.XVI; Crafts Australia (Summer 1980); the inaugural issue of Pulau Pinang Magazine (January - February 1989) and Malaysian Tatler, February 1990.