30 July 2013

Jojo in the Wonderland @ White Box

The Malaysian Chinese-educated community is inspired by Taiwanese perceptions of beauty, who in turn draw on Japanese culture as an influence. One experiences this particular aesthetic, during a stroll in the Pipit or Kaka craft markets (held 2-3 times a year), or when having coffee at Poco Homemade or Typica café. The current generation of this demographic are encouraged to express their fears - contradictions of life, love, and social identity, are common themes in popular books and song lyrics. Among young local artists, Siund Tan and Chong Ai Lei display traces of this sometime-saccharine sentiment; Now Cheong Kiet Cheng has burst onto the scene, and claim this aesthetic as her own.

Tree House (2012)

Bright-eyed figures, cute & furry animals, and a large tree, cohabit the space in 'Tree House' like a surrealist collage. Its protagonists, assuming the artist and her muse, gaze upon past & future situations, while perching upon the branches of the Tree of Life.  Left alone, the female character faces her fears in 'We Neither Happy Nor Sad', a similarly crowded painting covered with wild animals, humanoids, and flowers. More intimate is the scene from "Raining Soon', where Miss red-riding-hood looks out to the viewer, seeking encouragement before she leaves her Wonderland. Sentimental and depicted as busy pictures, these works downplay the artist's considerable skill at drawing plants and animals.

In a Morning (2013)

With its elements placed in the right context and composition, 'In a Morning' stands out as the masterpiece in this collection. The girl holds on confidently to a mythical bird, releasing a multitude of other flying creatures, that head off to the limestone mountains in the background.  Rocks and trees contribute to this allegory, but it is the phoenix's soft orange feathers, and the curvature of the birds' flight path, that attract the viewer's attention. 'Butterfly Kiss' depicts our protagonist with fairy wings, showing off a brazen impertinence while crouched upon, a floating log in a washed up landscape. These works by Kiet Cheng emit an emotional turbulence, denoting a constant interrogation of her deepest feelings.

Butterfly Kiss (2013)

Maturity prevails in the pale hues of 'Sunflower', standing out as the hidden gem among other visually attractive works. A Malaysian-Chinese girl, recognisable from her sleeveless laced blouse, gazes downwards in a gloomy landscape of dying flowers. Erected beside her is a decaying sunflower, rendered in exquisite beauty despite its pastel palette. Juxtaposing perfectly with the girl, with its curling petals and thorny stem, the picture states that there is beauty in decay.  It also mocks the popular notion of beauty, referring to the vibrant sunflower, and the pretty Asian. A similar theme is portrayed in 'We Sleep Under the Starry Sky', although in a morbid turn of events, an animal skeleton (her zodiac, perhaps?) is present as a sleeping companion.

Sunflower (2013)

Sharing the White Box space is husband Hoo Kiew Hang's garish and shallow works of pop art, a persiflage on religious spirituality that only dwells on surface matters. Lucky him to have a wife that recognises her inner feelings and deep thoughts, whom then is able to transplant those reflections vividly onto canvas. The illustrated world view are allegories of omnipresent human concerns, and are most importantly, painted beautifully. At the exhibition, the Wonderland atmosphere is enriched by polyform and cement sculptures, lying among piles of dry leaves. Shown also are quirky small assemblages made of leaves, that explore the same themes, but with a discernible Taiwanese / Malaysian aesthetic, that belongs to Cheong Kiet Cheng.

Polyform + cement sculptures @ White Box

28 July 2013

Snippets: Amsterdam, Jun 2013

The Rijksmuseum is less attractive after its lengthy refurbishment, where an overwhelming Dutch pride clouds the individual brilliance within its collection. Pleasant discoveries this visit include the bright & positive depiction of a windmill by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, and rowdy scenes of common life by Jan Steen. Labelled questionably as a moralist, 'Mayor of Delft and his Daughter' exhibits a deft execution that cleverly embodies the themes of patronage and social landscape. Jan's more intimate paintings are equally allegorical as his famous farcical ones, but capture details in a more exacting manner.

Jan Steen - The Leiden baker Arent Oostwaard and his wife Catharina Keizerswaard (1658)

Stedelijk Museum has a fantastic permanent collection, that covers significant art movements from the early 20th century. Besides an insightful chronology of Kazimir Malevich's progress towards suprematism, and a well-curated room on expressionism, I seek out Herman Kruyder and Charley Toorop, whom each provide a unique post-war perspective in Dutch modern art. The evocative portraits of Parisian life, and people at the beach, by Ed van der Elsken and Rineke Dijkstra respectively, stand out within its famed photography collection. Delimiting a space among contemporary artists, Marlene Dumas' sensitive wit prevails in her works, which illustrate a critical view on the current state of affairs, while maintaining an expressive painterly technique.

Marlene Dumas - Martha, Sigmund's Wife (1984)

It is difficult not to like Vincent Van Gogh, despite an ugly start to his short career. The "Van Gogh at work" exhibition aims to describe the way of working throughout the artist's lifespan, and does an admiringly good job. Historical analysis and current scientific findings are presented in an interactive environment, tracing the tale of an obsessive artist that was methodical in his rebellion against academic conventions. Enlightening displays include a detailed exploration of palette preference ('Quinces, Lemons, Pears and Grape'), and different brush strokes ('View of Auvers'), that culminate in the wonderful landscapes of Van Gogh's late works.

Vincent Van Gogh - Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888)

Photojournalism highlights the plight of many suffering in this world, and is an especially powerful tool when allotted a context, such as when displayed in the annual World Press Photo exhibition at the Oude Kerk. Malaysia has two representatives among this year's winners - Stefen Chow capturing Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei's mug shot, and Chen Wei Seng bagging a sports action award for a Sumatran bull race. The majority of exhibited pictures belong to the macabre, including Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr's shot of a dead Sudanese soldier, floating in a pool of leaked oil which reflects a waiting heaven of blue sky & white clouds.

Dominic Nahr - Sudan Border Wars (2012)

At one of the world's prominent photography museums, Foam held a retrospective for English photographer Stephen Gill named "Best Before End". Utilising experimental techniques to overcome the technical limitations of his equipment, Stephen captures his urban environment in Hackney with visual aplomb. Placing objects in the camera, burying photographs, and injecting fizzy drinks into the picture development process, unexpectedly yields beautifully misconstrued pictures that captivate the viewer. 

Stephen Gill - Buried series (2006)

Tasteless graffiti it may be - but having the subjects of Van Gogh's 'The Potato Eaters' eating fries outside the Westerkerk, made me laughed out loud at first sight.

27 July 2013

48: Bukit Bintang @ The Print Room

48 consecutive hours prowling the heart of Kuala Lumpur with a camera, is an experiment that sounds equal parts exhausting and crazy fun. Monochromatic photographs are typically boring, compounded here by blurry images and inconsequential pairing of objects, which relegate most exhibits to amateurish products. Shean Tan's narrative-driven compositions and Alia Zulasmin's deliberate contrasts display potential, but it is gallery director Paul Rudd that dominates this exhibition. Powerful portraits of night denizens and their environment, challenges one to visit this seedy part of KL, a curiosity stoked by the photographer's re-framing of neglected subjects.

Paul Rudd - Tau Foo Fa (2013)

25 July 2013

Observations / Opportunities for Art Galleries in KL

Since being interested in the local art scene, I have visited many galleries; Till this date, I feel that the majority of visiting experiences have been alienating. No wonder that the general public are hesitant to step foot into an art gallery. Many spaces suffer from bad lighting, its administrators feigning ignorance when probed. Notwithstanding, my biggest gripe are towards galleries that are closed during its publicised opening hours. A recent example was the "Art In Search for Words" exhibition at interpr8 gallery, which I visited 4 times (Mon/Sat/Wed/Sat afternoons) and still failed to attend! This irresponsible showing is an injustice towards the exhibiting artists, whom do not mind more people being able to appreciate their artworks.

Sharon Chin - Portable Sensors: Penerbitan Haram / Banned Texts 1971 - 2012

I understand the commercial side of art, but to be asked "Are you a collector?" first thing after stepping into a gallery is demeaning, which unfortunately happens too often. Follow-on questions such as "Have you been here before?", "How did you know about us?", and "Can you please sign the guestbook?", are inconsequential when many staff cannot relate about the artist and his/her work. Gallery workers should learn about the brief history and styles of exhibited artists, to have an intelligent conversation with the visitor. Allowing one ample time and space, to appreciate works, is also a good trait. So is acknowledging and greeting visitors whom enter a gallery space. Malaysians are a notoriously bad lot at service levels, but with a medium-high income customer base, art galleries should invest more effort in their staff.

Vincent Leong - Executive Properties: 24-Hours Security (2012) 

Him: Hello, are you a collector?
Me: No, I do not call myself a collector.
Him: So, you collect art?
Me: I have some works, but I don't collect as a hobby.  I buy what I like and afford at the time.
Him: So who do you collect?
Me: I have works by HH, KN, and WPF.
Him: Oh OK. We don't have new artists here. I heard HH recently exhibited in the National Gallery?
Me: No, I don't think so. You can find some pieces at Chandan or Wei-Ling's stock room.
Him: Oh OK. Do you like figurative works? Landscape? Or abstract?
Me: I don't have an outright preference. Do you have a brochure for this exhibition?
Him: Sorry no brochure, but here's the price list.  Let me know which one you are interested in.

Nadiah Bamadhaj - Berdiri Di Atas Kaki Sendiri (2012)

22 July 2013

T.I.G.A @ NN Gallery

Unsure how Fazli Othman's rubbish collector in orange coveralls will make one conscientious, I turn to the metallic constructs of Ahmad Fauzi for aesthetic solace. Rebars are harsh materials by association with the construction sector, but its reinforcing function affirms the solidity within these works. Visibly attractive is the 'Black Hole', an improvised exploration of the wonderful ceaseless form of a circle. 'Berhimpit' invokes the vicissitude of growth and decay; 'Benteng' is a quirky take on the fort, its small size and crimson paint questioning the relevance of such structures. A significant work in progress worth appreciating is 'Mencari', a wall installation that recalls Piet Mondrian's search for natural beauty in composition.

Ahmad Fauzi - Mencari (2013)

21 July 2013

Bewildered, Once More @ Wei-Ling Contemporary

As compared to his first solo exhibition 2 years ago, businessman Toon Hian’s works have increased in size and colour, whilst retaining a whimsical and intimate charm. Salient artistic influences include the surrealism of Salvador Dali, and Chinese ink paintings. Space plays a defining role in his aesthetic – the narrow scroll format of the “Koxinga” series projects a limited skyline, that creates depth in contrast with the subjects in its foreground. The majority of drawings isolate a scene within representational boundaries, most apparent as the sandal form observed in the quirky ‘A Tribute to Hermes’. The artist’s trademark depiction of undulating figures along a horizontal plane, are exaggerated dramatically in ‘Pilgrim to the West’, to be appreciated at the Gardens gallery's store room.

Koxinga: In the Taiwan Sky; Captivated By the Aura (2013)

“Thematically these works are a celebration of history, an exploration of human nature and always the autobiographical”, narrates Anurendra Jegadeva in the catalogue essay. Yearning for a nostalgic past, and hailing the heroism of Jin Yong’s wuxia novels, Toon Hian crowds his characters into tiny places, the composition always maintaining a safe distance from the illustrated event. It is when this distance is shorten, such as in ‘Arm and Horses’ and ‘Gathering Friends..’, which bowls the viewer over with its mesmerizing beauty. Not so pretty are the bewilderingly high prices, from RM 5,000 to RM 12,000 for an artwork slightly bigger than a B4-sized paper. Perhaps money is of little significance in the transient life, a pervading notion in Toon Hian's pictures.

Arm and Horses (2012)

20 July 2013

Recess: Censored in Beijing

The irony of "What is current?" - 1 week without access to Blogger, Facebook, and many other websites.

Notice board at 798 Art District, Beijing

13 July 2013

時光靜止 Still Life Photo Exhibition @ Typica 豆原

Typica 豆原 possesses a serene ambience with its salvaged wood furniture, as industrious baristas brew the best siphon drip coffee in town. Hanging a selection of prints by Hiew Miow Yein augments the café's already down-to-earth mood. The amateur photographer captures peaceful pictures that relate to nature, mostly taken in the Netherlands where she resides. At RM 200 per print, proceeds go to supporting the Sunflower 向陽花 newspaper, a free magazine that stemmed from the anti-Lynas movement. Taking its stance in the idealised struggle, I sip a cuppa at this oasis in the Pudu desert, as the world around it condemns nature to the spoils of development.

呼吸 Breathing

11 July 2013

Pulse: June / July 2013 Art Auctions

Despite The Edge's best effort to promote exclusivity in its inaugural auction, or the creative offerings of paired works by KL Lifestyle Art Space, both auctions delivered underwhelming results. Local records for a few artists were smashed at the former, bold estimates helping Ahmad Shukri and Bayu Utomo Radjikin up their previous records, while Jolly Koh and Kow Leong Kiang fetched price highs due to the large format works that were not seen in previous auctions. The mood was dull and largely muted amongst a discerning crowd. Most lots had only 2 or 3 bidders, and gems by Cheah Ewe Hoon and Yeong Seak Ling were hammered down but did not sell due to unexpected issues.

Same price as Ahmad Zakii's 'Vase'? Tan Choon Ghee - Kapitan Kling Mosque (1994)

At Sheraton, KL Lifestyle Art Space achieved 90% sales, but will be remembered for the non-sale of an Ibrahim Hussein and a Yusof Ghani, with pre-sale low estimates of RM 400,000 and RM 80,000 respectively. A couple of works were withdrawn before the auction, possibly due to the owner realising its estimates being too low. One of which was by the recently deceased Tew Nai Tong, whose bountiful ‘Harvest’ saw a flurry of paddle activity. Stock watch for the month sees Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s works propelling to modern / "blue chip" territory, while a rising trend is charted for ethnic Chinese painters Tan Choon Ghee, Eng Tay, Khoo Sui Hoe, and the perpetually underestimated Lee Long Looi.

Attractive pairs: Nude Portrait of an Australian Lady (1994) by Long Thieh Shih [L], Khalil Ibrahim [R]

The entry of two new auction houses in town, in a single month, spells good competition and hopefully increases the professionalism at these events. Greg Harris, the auctioneer for The Edge, started each lot’s bidding at 65% of the lowest estimate, a curious figure for a modern art auction. The focus on quality and provenance is very commendable, and it was a pleasure to appreciate works by much-coveted 1990s artists Kok Yew Puah and Wong Hoy Cheong. Variety also emerged, where a number of sculptures and Chinese ink paintings featured prominently at the Masterpiece auction. Installation and video art in the next art auction, perhaps? I am obviously getting too far ahead of myself...

Varied offering: Ch'ng Huck Theng - Dragon I (2011)

09 July 2013

Transfiguration @ G13

Transfiguration is defined as "a change of form/appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state". This notion seems contradictory at first sight in Haslin Ismail's solo exhibition, where the viewer is subjected to skeletal shapes and bulbous forms. Focusing on the acts of drawing and painting in this collection, the artist displays a maturity in both subject matter and technique, departing further from the comic book fantasies that first garnered recognition. Grotesque forms are retained, together with a colouring effect that take after a nebulous yet luminous quality.

Transfiguration (2013)

A close examination of human body parts like bone and muscle, are apparent in paintings such as ‘Qalbu’ and ‘Contemplation’. The former with its black background sets off to expose what lies underneath the skin; The latter utilising a self-absorbing black hole that anchors the large picture in the centre. Illustrations of a machine-made man and the delirious depiction of ‘Ecstasy’, portray a strong sense of dystopia that culminates in ‘Transfiguration’. Two giant beings wrestle for man’s attention, one covered in lumpy bark and another with a metropolis crown, their respective posturing inspired by Japanese anime.

Queen (2013)

‘Dorsiventrality’ number amongst Haslin’s best work, where signature shapes and expert shading coalesce, to narrate the duality of life via an insect’s carcass. ‘Queen’ features a bug-eyed character, its collage pulling the strings of a pink brain, drawing attention away from an amazing dripping effect below the red paper cut-out. These cerebral works indicate a deeper exploration of serious subjects, moving beyond even the classical theme of ‘Death’. Projecting a surreal commentary about modernity and religion, the overlaying objects in ‘Consecration’ resemble a submission to the artist's subconscious train of thought.

Dorsiventrality (2013)

Haslin’s sinuous drawings of fantasy characters and landscapes are always visually captivating, where he seems most potent at vertical structures, especially in ‘Resah Qalbu’ and ‘Hatred’. Kudos to the gallery for an informative catalogue, that includes a brief by local art collector Bingley Sim and many pictures of the artist’s drawings in the past. Rachel Jena contributed an essay that mentions the use of jute, a decision that allowed Haslin to achieve a better painterly effect as compared to canvas. Haslin Ismail, as Rachel puts it, “...has transfigured [...] like the very characters that you see in his art today".

Resah Qalbu (2012)

07 July 2013

Freezing the Moment @ RA Fine Arts

The folds caught my attention in Taksu, and again in Raja Ahmad's gallery, who provided Mohd Akhir Ahmad an opportunity to showcase his considerable skill at painting fabric and pleats. Apparently not a reference to Johannes Vermeer, the budding artist's choice of a pearl earring to anchor this exhibition, is a peculiar one. In 'The Girl with Pearl Earring I', luscious folds of a lady's dress contrast with a crudely drawn rug, her pose an unmistakable reference to Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, an inspiration that the artist acknowledges. The svelte figure and a half-face are repeated in 'The Moment I See Her', marking an overly conscious attempt to fabricate mystery within his paintings.

The Girl with Pearl Earring I (2013)

More well-drawn but thematically boring are the depictions of pillows and blankets, where realistic textures of mundane objects, are illustrated in a manner similar to the marbles of self-taught artist Latif Maulan. It is a concern that young artists are taught to establish a signature style early in their careers, where adopting a fixed approach hinders artistic progression and experimental verve. Mohd Akhir shows potential to develop further as a figurative painter, but should first drop the signature elements. Perhaps start with painting the upper half of the lady's face?

Good Morning (2013)

05 July 2013

Malaysian Art Auction IV Preview @ KL Lifestyle Art Space

Organising its 4th art auction in 11 months, KL Lifestyle Art Space provides a good opportunity for home owners to purchase pretty art for decorating walls. Greeting the gallery visitor is Tew Nai Tong’s ‘Harvest’, a splendid representation of Nanyang style by the recently deceased artist. Its composition extends the theme of abundance beyond the canvas, as a blue-clothed lady exits the frame to the right, and a basket of fruits is cut off at the top. Impressionistic strokes reinforce the viewer’s position in an open field, where one observes expert technique behind plants, of the blended paints that make up the main character’s shimmery dress.

Tew Nai Tong - Harvest (1990)

Those looking for a pair of complementing art works are spoilt for choice, with a significant amount of couple paintings on offer. The organiser capitalises on the human ego to create pressure situations for bidders, who will find it difficult to purchase one without the other. Big-name buyers can go for Yusof Ghani’s pen drawings, or Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s still lifes, while Raduan Man’s dragons are a visually interesting decorative pair. Intriguing drawings of a nude Australian lady by Long Thien Shih and Khalil Ibrahim, attract the figurative art lover. Lee Long Looi’s melancholic works create a pensive mood, while potential bidders should inspect the creases on Ahmad Shukri’s “Sunset/Sunrise”, before evaluating its price.

Chia Yu Chian - Nan Tian Tong Temple, Ipoh (1957)

Quality is not a question with Chia Yu Chian’s ‘Nan Tian Tong Temple, Ipoh’, where an otherworldly beauty is expressed in colours that recall Edvard Munch. Contrasting this approach is Raphael Scott Ahbeng’s ‘Hills of Bau, Sarawak’, the artist depicting a local landscape in a smooth and minimalist manner. Greys of different shades were used to create pictorial depth, and colourful forms imply a living spirit that resides within the mountain. An innovative batik work that combines a thoughtful composition and a warm palette by Chuah Seow Keng, Teng’s son, also serves up a visual delight.

Lee Long Looi - Day In - Day Out (1981); Two - Four (1981)

On the block are 109 available lots, out of which 10% are dated since 2010, perhaps an indication of the increasing number of consigners that aim for a swift investment return. This catalogue offers a few dubious items, notably 2 prints of a Chuah Thean Teng and Redza Piyadasa work, and encyclopaedic volumes of former Indonesian president Sukarno’s art collection. In a small marketplace, the largest stall attracts the most attention, as I await to see the number of couple works that go to the same bidder.

Raphael Scott Ahbeng - Hills of Bau, Sarawak (2007)

03 July 2013

Kembara Jiwa Fukuoka: Enhanced Passion (1st Cycle) @ Galeri Chandan

Spreading the good word is a most commendable act, as Galeri Chandan continues to showcase top Malaysian contemporary visual artists to an international audience, via its Kembara Jiwa program. Diversity takes precedence over any specific theme, where one gets to appreciate great quality works from relevant contemporary artists. Greeting the visitor is Juhari Said's 'Two Dalmatians and Red Line', an elaborate woodcut print of two asymmetrical dogs in profile, separated by a red tear too ideally located on its central axis. Flourishing from the ground nearby are Umibaizurah Mahir's sculptures – beautiful porcelain wares decorated with maps and stacked in her inimitable playful style.

Umibaizurah Mahir - After Some Hours on The Train... Series 1 (2013)

It is a delight to see Fauzulyusri’s works after the impressive "Coreng" solo exhibition, where he maintains the naiveté picture, but stays clear of politics. The usage of blue, marks an increasing awareness of pictorial depth via colour juxtapositions. This complements the artist's mastery in composition, where familiar found objects dot the canvas in seeming disorder, especially apparent in the square grids of ‘Bercoreng’. Contrasting this disarray are Azliza Ayob’s congruous works, which combine surreal elements and curvilinear designs to great effect. The best representation is ‘Orgasmic’, a sensual masterpiece where natural forms and pretty colours arouse the human desire. Husband Ilham Fadhli depicts the more practical concerns of food and shelter, where his surreal landscapes contain a large plant that dominates the canvas, rooted in the middle and surrounded by typically lost inhabitants. 

Fauzulyusri - Sicoreng (2013)

In an installation that ‘ripples’ with discursive intent, Hasnul Jamal Saidon reflects fondly upon his 2003 residency at Fukuoka. I marvel at the experiment conducted then, where a virtual exchange between Malaysian and Japanese students, interrogated a range of topics from cultural relativism to the manipulation of form/identity/object. Crude and cynical, Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman's wooden constructs comment on the two opposing political parties, while imploring viewers to literally look closer. Kamal Sabran + Goh Lee Kwang’s ‘Bunyian Aneh dari Batu Gajah’ starts off with dissonant blares, which familiar sounds from a band practice, will surely amuse the music practitioner. Proceedings become less interesting during the interviews, but the patient and open-minded viewer will be rewarded when the music plays.

Azliza Ayob - Orgasmic (2013)

Considering the available floor space and abundant natural light, the exhibition suffers from poor lighting, and an irrelevant placement of works. These deficiencies notably hamper the presentation of Izan Tahir + Marvin Chan's “Pendekar Jari Kuat” series, where Chinese voters/demigods are immortalised underneath a layer of resin, fossilizing a political myth with current sentiments. Finger puppets, Chinese ghosts, and "Malaysian Spring" flags, are among the clever motifs used, notwithstanding the raised index finger. Samsudin Wahab's 'Panic Attack' could benefit from being hung in this dark area, where its running lights can achieve a stronger impact, reminding us of a certain doom when the lights go out.

Izan Tahir + Marvin Chan (IM) - Dusun Pendekar Jari Kuat (2013)

Blackouts aside, Phuan Thai Meng presents a sardonic commentary on another General Elections fiasco, where Malaysian identity cards are painstakingly recreated with sarcastic aplomb. The Malay man restrains his scowl in Jalaini Abu Hassan's diptych 'Tiger Tamer', whom is connected to a mediating and smiling self portrait, via a red Chinese dragon. Allusion to the recent GE13 is inevitable, as identity remains a passionate topic among local artists. Haslin Ismail's "Ultramundane" series seem to be devoid of political sentiments, where bizarre and bulbous drawings indicate a further departure from his previous surreal works. One hopes that this collection of enhanced works, invoke a similar passion among Malaysians, to recognise quality and support the local contemporary visual arts.

Phuan Thai Meng - I see... series (2013)

01 July 2013

Snippets: Q2 2013

Amongst the stable of artists in Richard Koh Fine Art, is the landscape master Wong Perng Fey. Executed during the artist's residency in China, the lucid colours and confident strokes in this work, imbues the abstract subject with an urgency that wakes its dormant state.

Wong Perng Fey - The Palm II (2013)

The re-elected Malaysian prime minister commented on a "Chinese Tsunami", after he secured another term for the ruling coalition, immediately reducing him to an imbecile governing with a minority vote. Many local artists have made politically-significant statements in the past, including Ismail Zain, whose work at NVAG I was reminded of upon hearing that seditious remark.

Ismail Zain - Anak Tionghua (1967)

RA Fine Arts rode the General Elections fever by organising "Mera'i Demokrasi", an exhibition anchored by Suhaimi Fadzir's mixed media political works. The 'RAMLAN' portraits pick on a popular election prediction, pasted with controversial articles by pro-government newspapers, providing a stark commentary on the ruling coalition and its primary component party UMNO. Quirky yet sarcastic pictorial representations of this sentiment are echoed in the "Berebut Kerusi" series, featuring elements that are unmistakably Suhaimi's.

Suhaimi Fadzir - Berebut Kerusi (GE13 & Dragonfruit) (2013)