CULTURE shock came to Ngan Ting in a big way when she arrived in the United States in the summer of 1990 to continue her studies. ''One of my neighbours was an obese woman,'' the young artist recalls. ''I had never seen such a big woman in China.'' Did Ms Ngan snigger? Stare goggle-eyed and shudder? On the contrary. ''I found her roundness and the warm glow of her skin under the sun captivating. Her volume gave me an overwhelming sense of strength,'' Ngan Ting enthuses. And yes, she just had to paint the fat lady who can be seen in her all glorious rotundity in Ngan's series of oils, Obese Goddess, showing at the Fringe Club gallery and bar from Thursday to January 30 as part of Fringe '93. A graduate of the Chinese University, Ngan Ting soon discovered that while big may be beautiful in the eyes of certain beholders, ''to be fat in America means to be thought of as unintelligent and clumsy, [and] it seems this treatment eventually leads toisolation, insecurity and low self-esteem. ''These feelings and impressions of obese women, including their strengths and form, inspired me to start Obese Goddess.'' INSPIRATION from many other sources can be found at Fringe '93 whose exhibitors include several expatriate talents. Among them are India's Anju Ahmed whose mixed media display Nature's Palette is showing from tomorrow till Saturday in the Cultural Centre's main foyer, Germany's Gaby Bruggerhoff whose exhibition Flowers In My Mind, at the F. R. Guettinger Galley at theFringe (till January 27) captures the natural beauty she found in the Philippines, and America's Renee Melchert Thorpe whose recent acrylic scrolls, going on display at the Fringe Club from January 30, have been given the catchy title Bow Wow! ''Bring a photo of a favourite dog,'' urges Ms Thorpe who favours a cartoon-like style with ''a jarring vitality that typifies Hongkong''. Imagination is also in abundant supply on the home front. Local artists with plenty to say include Larry Leung Lop-yan, who combines his passion for Chinese antiques and his skill with acrylics in Perception of Art, and Fringe Festival veteran Eunice Chan who offers ''A lingering game of colour, strokes and words'' via paintings and mixed media works. Both exhibitions can be seen at the Cultural Centre foyer - Chan's from tomorrow and Leung's from Friday. KUNG Hei Fat Choy. Airline strike and plunging mercury notwithstanding, it's the season to celebrate - as the Showcase Art Gallery is doing with a two-week exhibition of Chinese New Year Folk Arts opening today at the gallery's headquarters in Harbour City and in Ocean Centre's main concourse. ''Every [Chinese] family in Hongkong must have had the experience of keeping at least one Chinese New Year painting in their house,'' Showcase says. ''These traditional paintings convey all sorts of blessings and it is too bad that in today's modern world, people consider them old-fashioned.'' Instead of relegating depictions of auspicious deities such as the Kitchen God and God of Wealth to some dusty corner, give them pride of place and enjoy them year-round, suggests the gallery. Also showing will be recent works created by modern Chinese artist Lu Ming-da in honour of the Year of the Rooster. IS art communication or construction? The question has been prompted by the paintings of India's Hemi Bawa whose ''winning combination of blending geometric figures into living landscapes'' can be seen in Dynamics of Reality at Mandarin Oriental Fine Arts, Mandarin Hotel, till January 30. Ms Hemi, who was awarded the coveted Chitri Kala Sangam Prize in 1962, has had her oils exhibited throughout India and been honoured by her country's prime minister.