10 August 2013

Warisan Penglipurlara Pancawarna @ NVAG

Visiting the National Art Gallery to view 5 different exhibitions, turned out to be an awful experience. Poorly lit spaces, cold as a refrigerator, wrong or incomplete labelling, and bad curatorial efforts, leave me lamenting the sorry state of affairs at this public institution. While the Huang Yao retrospective and surrealist show deserve its own postings, the remaining exhibits do not. "Penglipurlara" presents old story books, a cartoon, a mute wayang kulit video, and a blog post projected onto the wall (?!). Viewing the exhibits at the same time was a tourist couple, who sounded like they enjoy art, but definitely not this - there was no English explanation available, not even a translation of the Puteri Gunung Ledang or Peristiwa Merak Emas fables.

Liew Yoon Thin - Running Script 行书 (2013)

Upstairs, the Chinese calligraphy exhibition "Warisan" hangs 136 scrolls. Without categorisation or any explanatory texts in the crowded space, the event makes the organisers look like fools, who claim the intention to promote calligraphic art. Compounding the bad experience is the museum guard, who gave me a loud and rude lecture, for taking a camera out of my pocket while I was reaching for my phone. Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir's retrospective "Pancawarna" features 100 works, mostly consisting of her signature stencil-like forms of garish colours, with the occasional yellow or orange brush stroke breaking free from the rigid abstract structures. A welcome distraction are collages of religious symbols with gold and triangles, seen in the "Garden of the Heart" series, that hark back to a time of oriental extravagance.

Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir - Mihrab: Nusantara (2006)

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