Funnyman Mark Lee is a lover of art

Funnyman Mark Lee is a lover of art
Comedian and TV host Mark Lee at home. Lee’s art collection from Beijing-born Wu Qiong includes a 3m-long painting, which is now mounted on the ceiling of his apartment.

It is a moment of incredulity to hear comedian and TV host Mark Lee rattle off different interior looks such as Manhattan and resort styles.

But the funnyman, better known as Singapore's favourite Ah Beng than for his knowledge of interior design, is not taking the Mickey out of decorating. He knows what he is talking about.

As the co-host of five seasons of the popular home makeover programme, Home Decor Survivor, Lee has picked up a few tips about how to dress a home.

The 46-year-old, who has also hosted shows such as Home Makeover and DIY My Home, confesses: "My knowledge of interior design started from zero.

I thought it's enough if there's a table, sofa, television and bed. But when I started doing interior design shows, I bought magazines, and went on the Internet to see how interior designers did it. You just try and try, and you will get it eventually."

While he was designing for other families on the reality shows, his skills - and taste - were put to the test when it came to designing his own 2,680 sq ft condominium apartment last year.

He worked with local interior design company Weiken, for which he is the celebrity ambassador, to create the look for the five-bedroom, single-storey apartment in Upper Thomson Road. He lives there with his wife, their three children aged between one and six, his mother and elder sister.

With Lee designing the apartment, it is a role reversal for the couple, who used to live at the Nuovo condominium in Ang Mo Kio. His wife Catherine Ng, 41, went for a resort-style look for that four-bedroom apartment. Lee says: "My wife did it all. I just gave her the budget and I was not involved."

Was she then worried about leaving their new home in his hands? "She knew I had taste when I married her," he deadpans.

Indeed, the result is a modern-looking apartment, with a mainly white palette and pops of colour from the furniture. The apartment also has an expansive balcony, where Lee replaced the grass with wood-like tiles so he could enjoy the outdoors.

But what surprises guests the most is his art collection, in particular from Beijing-born artist Wu Qiong. "They are shocked. They say, 'Eh, this Ah Beng collects art?' But why can't I? There're many Ah Bengs who play golf too."

He came across the 33-year-old artist's works in a magazine he saw at friend and celebrity hairstylist Addy Lee's house and later met Wu at an art exhibition in Marina Bay Sands.

He says of the paintings that feature adorable babies: "I thought they were cute. I'm not an art collector, but when I saw the paintings, I liked them so much."

He has four pieces, including a small statue of a baby with tattoos and a 3m-long painting. He spent about $40,000 on three pieces and the fourth was a gift from hairstylist Lee.

The prices of the artist's works range from $4,000 for smaller pieces to $30,000 for larger ones. They are available at Ode to Art gallery.

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