04 February 2013

Figure Out @ Galeri Petronas

"Figure Out" figures to be an ambitious effort to exhibit Malaysian figurative works, grouped via the general themes of portrait/ leisure/ work/ politics. Unfortunately these logical groupings do not serve much purpose apart from convenience. My interests were piqued only at the beginning, and at the end of the gallery's circular plan. Bayu Utomo Radjikin provides a powerful welcome with 'Qiblat', a giant triptych that reflects on Malay values. The Silat exponent readies himself in a disciplined pose, flanked by an empty;Qur'an stand and a cogan (malay royal sceptre). Neither object will come in handy during combat, than the holy verses inscribed across it.

Bayu Utomo Radjikin - Qiblat (2006)

Hung opposite is 'The Heart Surgery' by Hoessein Enas, an intimate and touching work done in a surprisingly modern and abstract fashion. Around the bend is a remarkable portrait of a young lady with flowing hair, by batik master Chuah Thean Teng. A couple of Shia Yih Yiing's works stand out from its borders with sharp social commentary. Nik Zainal Abidin's and Syed Thajudeen's respective takes on the Ramayana legend are good representations of their respective signature styles. The former's wayang kulit characters are intricately drawn and lively in form; The latter's colourful and thick blended palette evokes a metallic sheen on top of its earthy tones.

Hoessein Enas - The Heart Surgery (1980)

A blown-up Lat comic strip about a Chinese ceremony describes an enriching experience. Among the final paintings hung is Jalaini Abu Hassan's 'Halal', a wonderful example of Malaysian pop-art. Only Jai can make a buffalo, two half-naked figures, and some Chinese ideograms - make a symbolic statement on the awkwardness of being religious, carnivorous, and Malay, all at the same time. The last installation is a slideshow of 71 historical photographs by Ahmad Fuad Osman, doctored to include a long-haired hippie in each picture. This manipulation of historical moments appear irreverent, yet its underlying yearning for a different history, round up a bland exhibition.

Jalaini Abu Hassan - Halal (2007)

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