Aspiring artist writes Mr Lee Kuan Yew's name 18,000 times to create this amazing portrait

SINGAPORE - From a distance, Ong Yi Teck's A2-sized portrait of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew appears to be a nicely drawn work of art.

But look closer, and the amount of effort - and creativity - that went into this aspiring artist's labour of love will astound you.

Armed with only drawing pens and his own imagination, the 20-year-old, who is waiting to enrol in Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design & Media, spent 15 painstaking hours writing Mr Lee's name roughly 18,000 times.

The result is a portrait of Singapore's founding father, who was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb 5 for severe pneumonia.

The portrait, along with videos detailing the drawing process, was uploaded on his Instagram account over the past two days. It has since gone viral.

In one Instagram post, he wrote that he was reminded of two things while drawing it - success requires dedication and perseverance, and mistakes are inevitable.

"Whatever wrong decisions Mr Lee has made in the past (if any) does not change the fact that he dedicated his life into building this small nation since independence and brought us to where we are now. We should be appreciative of that, certainly."

Mr Ong told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview that he had been caught off-guard by how quickly his portrait was spread on social media. It was shared by, among others, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching on Facebook.

"I decided to do a drawing of Mr Lee on bigger canvas as a symbol to a great leader," said Mr Ong. "To make it more challenging, I wanted to try name-writing as a way to shade his facial features." 

He revealed that the portrait is not for sale, despite strong interest from several buyers. 

"I would prefer the focus to be on Mr Lee at this point of time," he added. "He is still in critical condition and we should all pray for his recovery."