24 February 2013

Then and Now @ Sasana Kijang

In 50 years of existence, Bank Negara has made wise investments into the local visual arts, amassing an impressive collection. Beginning with Hoessein Enas, many critically acclaimed Malaysian artists are represented, as one walks around the partitions to admire this well-hung exhibition. Chung Chen Sun's 'Tin Mine' is a beautiful Chinese ink drawing of a faded Malaysian landscape. The wet and washed-up sand in the foreground, joins up with the structures that goes on in the industrialised background. The photographic composition reminds one of the history of a diaspora - a history where we can stand far away to observe, but never far enough to forget. Choy Chun Wei's claustrophobic composition is amplified with thick Roman pillars and narrow shacks, portraying a visceral visual about a choking urban density.

Choy Chun Wei - The Living Space of the Materialist Dwellers (2003)

Displayed next to it is Hamidi Hadi's 'Drop'. A different kind of denseness, that of browns and blues, are distributed across the canvas in concentrated pockets, the thickness of the material pushing the painting's horizon further back. Yeong Seak Ling's baby cot with a kampung background is beautifully painted, and harks back to Renaissance portraiture influences (I almost wished the paddy fields were painted in sfumato). The combination of classical motives with modern execution echoes the role of a central bank, to preserve and enrich the national treasury for subsequent generations. I am hopeful that Bank Negara will continue to be a discerning collector, and proudly display these national treasures in the wonderful space of Sasana Kijang.

Hamidi Hadi - Drop (2004)

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