28 June 2013

Forms of Void @ Richard Koh Fine Art

I do not know Saiful Razman.  I do not know who decided the hanging configuration at RKFA's Bangsar Village gallery. I do not know what the blue means.  I do not know whether he has seen Avery Preesman's work at the Stedelijk Museum.  I do not know if horizontal bands spell comfort and structure to the artist.  I have not seen the Pelan-Pelan / Bilik Gerakan and Pelan Cap works in person.  I do now know why the move away from socio-political visual containers.  I do not know whether the titles in the "Forms of Void" series mean anything.  But I know while viewing Saiful Razman's works from Numbers one to eleven, I discovered a whole range of emotions that are as penetrating as it is fleeting.

Number 3 (2013)

The void is first seen on the catalogue cover, the deep blue of 'Number 5', a liquid sea of calm rippling with white horizontal stripes that draw the viewer in, not unlike Barnett Newman's zips.  This mysterious blue is present as the painting background throughout the series, defining the void as an underlying deep emotional state, or an unconscious spiritual landscape.  All paintings attempt to cover up this void, beginning with the ferns & fire of 'Number 1', then the colour bands of 'Number 2'.  These landscapes retain its figurative source, while attempting to break away from, the formality of a six by six feet canvas.

Number 4 (2013)

In 'Number 3', Saiful attempts a hopeful and literal depiction of the void, where a black smog overlays a shimmery turquoise, alluding to an unseen drama of being adrift in the night sea.  Formalism gives way to exuberant strokes in 'Number 4', denoting a shift of mood from an experimental struggle to a new enthusiasm.  Varying shades and bold strokes of colour are juxtaposed, resulting in a joyful painting that celebrates life.  Small patches of the blue background remain visible, and just like entering a car alone after a sprightly party, the deep dark void of '5' consumes the self in a melancholic instance.

Number 5 (2013)

'Number 7' presents short strokes of red & blue, a return to form after the indecisive scribbles of 'Number 6'.  Akin to the magnified impressions of a watery surface, '7' recalls Hoe Say Young's works in its tranquillity, but the horizontal forms belong to Saiful.  Perhaps, these strokes refer to the grid structures of the "Pelan-Pelan" series, posing a peaceful familiarity to the artist in his drawing process.

Number 7 (2013)

Ideas converge haphazardly in the large triptych 'Number 8', covered with multiple layers and broad strokes of colour that threaten to destroy the canvases.  Thankfully, the gloriously painted central axis implies a central column, a pillar that ties the disparate colours together.  Special mention goes to the twisting brush strokes at the bottom, a beautiful visual symbol of entanglement and frustration, which summarises the mood that permeates this work.  Nuances of a mournful feeling return in Numbers '9' and '10', where uneven black strokes fade into despair, illustrating a blurry dream and a dark wall respectively, that mask the real void.

Number 8 (2013)

'Number 11' represents an optimistic world view, that man cannot despair for too long, and everything is OK after a good night's sleep.  Life continues on in a vivacious manner, as golden swathes and confident swirls share the pictorial space.  In its temporal linearity, "Forms of Void" conveys a short duration of a person's feelings, its paintings interspersed with bursts of emotional states.  These intriguing works mark a successful return to the canvas, amidst many a socio-political commentary in his oeuvre.  A time for the artist to divulge his true emotions, and interrogate his deepest painterly thoughts.  Will he follow on this series towards a deeper abstract approach?  Are there deeper voids to explore?  I do not know Saiful Razman, but I doubt it.

Number 11 (2013)

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