29 September 2013

Julai in September @ HOM Art Trans

Heterogeneity in Malaysian visual arts is well exemplified in this gathering of former schoolmates, where its participants have established themselves upon graduation from UiTM. Hamir Soib, whose 'The Auctionland' was still making waves at the Art Expo, states a polarising intent by cleverly exhibiting a box. The painting inside has travelled the world via luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton, but never shown in Malaysia and remains concealed to the viewer. Success is relative, where acknowledgement of a personal achievement is space and time-dependent. Such reflections are seen in Fausin Md Isa's large series of "Metropolis" photographic collages. Others like Jefri Din Jusoh yearn for simpler times, his wilting banana tree a wonderful watercolour painting still capable of evoking the sublime.

Hamir Soib - [left] Painting Box (2013); [right] bitumen & oil painting inside (2007)

Weaving scenes from two movies into one, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud's 8-minute video is equal parts compelling and neurotic. The two films - Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and P Ramlee's Enam Jahanam - are both excellent deconstructions of the Western genre, during a time when black & white were not deterrents to action storytelling. The business news scrollbar that comes in midway through the video, is symptomatic of this generation's short attention span and capitalist inclination. More personal are the digitally enhanced photographs by Soraya Yusof Talismail, whose documented shots of panda bears are cute to say the least. Monochromatic contrast and pixelation are manipulated, to create an effect that recall Chinese scroll paintings. Naive ink calligraphy, however, taints the otherwise excellent reproductions.

Still from Masnoor Ramli Mahmud - Mind Vision (2009/2010)

A maritime theme describes the works by Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, and Nizam Rahmat. Contemporary concerns and a striking blue mark 'Gulai Kawah' as a significant piece by Ahmad Shukri, where a faded Marilyn Monroe and floating grime prolong a nostalgic sentiment, contrasting with the immediacy of its central Ajinomoto motif. Nizam's engraving of nautical flags onto airline cases, plays on a preferred approach that is unexpectedly attractive. These letter flags each possess a specific meaning. When interpreted as individual characters, 'BULLSHIT' yields thoughtful statements: "Carrying dangerous goods; Running into danger; Stop and quarantine; Operate backward propulsion; Pilot on board; Alter course to port; Keep clear". I am obviously reading excessively into its presentation, but artworks that make one think too much, tend to be good art.

Nizam Rahmat - BULLSHIT (2013)

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