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)

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