19 May 2013

Scent of Bali @ G13

The Bali Field Trip made by 4 Nanyang exponents is a famous event documented in Singapore art history, and it is no wonder that artists continue to flock to this idyllic location. Figurative arts collective The F Klub travelled there to practice live drawings with nude models, an experience uncommon in our conservative country. Working within the constraints of time, space, and one's canvas, live drawings require the visual artist to capture the essence of the moment, environment, and forms. This exhibition lays bare each artist's capability to do just that, where further insight can be assimilated via a comparison with the body of works presented in "Seated", The F Klub's previous live drawing endeavour.

Chin Kong Yee - Madie (2013)

Chin Kong Yee's charcoal drawings have thin curves that outline a model's posture, which the artist then draws and rubs thick lines into it, to create depth and volume. This ostensible search for the definite line within a human position, ensues from the thick Chinese ink brush strokes seen in "Seated". Two oil paintings feature portraits that resemble Picasso's blue period, its seated figures slightly uncomfortable in a cerulean sea of steely blue. A curious observation is that none of Kong Yee's works were sold yet during my visit, perhaps due to the dirty traces that cover his drawings. Bayu Utomo Radjikin maintains a high level of realism in his drawings, where portraits embellished with interesting backgrounds are displayed.

Bayu Utomo Radjikin - Scent of Seminyak 4 (2013)

Exploration of the strokes and directions in the act of drawing, are manifested in the models depicted on brown paper. Face-less figures denote Bayu's focus on the human body, which he complements with Balinese pattern cloth and paper cut-outs, capturing the environs as an after-event. Fellow veteran figurative artist Kow Leong Kiang makes a welcome deviation from his trademark pastel palette, drawing scarlet portraits against a dirty ochre background. A fiery passion radiates from the topless nudes, further emphasised in the confident poses exhibited in 'Yunda I' and 'Nita'. Even the earth-tone figures are drawn and coloured in rough strokes, a departure from smoothly rendered girls that the artist is famous for, but admittedly less attractive in its aesthetic.

Kow Leong Kiang - Nita (2013)
Perhaps struggling with the constraints of live drawings, experimenting with new ideas, or just lethargy, Chong Ai Lei's figures are plainly inferior compared to the other exhibited works. The youngest member of The F Klub seemingly imitates Leong Kiang's brush strokes, evident when one compares his "Seated" paintings with Ai Lei's "Scent of Bali" paintings. Acclaimed for her sensual depictions of a woman in a domestic setting, these works display an irresoluteness and inhibition, especially in the model poses and thick incoherent strokes of paint. 'Nita III' is the sole commendable work with its visible tinge of discontent; Nonetheless Ai Lei's work still sold well, a reminder that reputation is always important in the art market.

Chong Ai Lei - Nita III (2013)

No pointed criticisms can be made against Shia Yih Yiing's beautiful portraits, the artist being the other female member in this collective. Clean lines and delightful colours are employed with great effect, as seen in 'Yunda!'s tropical sarong and 'Anggiy!!!'s vegetation. A confident combination of blue, green, yellow, and orange, are used to colour the models' skin, providing a fresh perspective to the Balinese woman, a favourite art subject amongst regional artists. In the background, monochromatic lines depict flowers, Barong, and mountains, setting off a wonderful context which refers to the model's environment. Gan Chin Lee's oil pastels are a disappointment - although the figures are decently drawn, the dark shades of coloured paper used reduce these drawings to hardly visible sketches.

Shia Yih Yiing - Yunda! (2013)

Distracted by the raw wooden frames, I had to refocus to appreciate Chin Lee's interesting usage of colours - pinks on the lower body, and whites on the face and shoulders. Complaint aside, these drawings culminate into two pretty but irreverent oil paintings. Marvin Chan wraps up the exhibition with a mischievous but refreshing take on figurative portraiture, experimenting with zigzag lines and capturing the informal, during the formal activity of a live drawing. Marvin's pastels and watercolours clearly captures a hidden optimism in the models' psyche, despite the graphic illustration style and muted colours. "Scent of Bali" proves to be another successful project by The F Klub, where sketches and drawings are acknowledged with greater significance within an artist's oeuvre.

Marvin Chan - Nita #1 & #2 (2013)

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