Art Expo Malaysia 2013 @ Matrade

Despite news of an auction withdrawal, the mood at Art Expo was casual, where quality works are spotted at a number of booths. Without the distractions of an Ibrahim Hussein or a giant koi fish nearby, Hamir Soib's 'A Board Game' looks to be a steal at Henry Butcher's November auction, with estimates around RM 50k. Parallel passages reveal Chuah Seow Keng's batik roosters and Raja Shahriman's metal sculptures, Malaysian made and visually attractive. Hidden in a nook is Chan Kok Hooi's wonderfully surreal 'Painting for Sale', while nude drawings by Gan Chin Lee flank Gan Tee Sheng's elderly portrait in another cranny. G13 Gallery also showcased a large-sized work from Marvin Chan's "Pendekar Jari" series, as visitors gape at the oil & pastel work by Haslin Ismail.

Chan Kok Hooi - Painting for Sale (2013)

The hyped-up GCMA exhibition displayed Ahmad Fuad Osman's steel construct with a printed American dollar note, its shining curvature and projected idea synonymous with the artist's cerebral output, although the intended wordplay was too literal. Taiwanese artist Chang Rui Pin 張瑞頻 also draws on this familiar image, her superimposed Bucketheads onto enlarged currency notes posing an absurd commentary, best exemplified in the USD 100 decorated with gold paint. Hailing from the same island and represented by Chit Fung Art (HK), Ye Jian 叶健 paints figurative subjects in a light pastel palette, which melancholic sentiment is stronger than Kow Leong Kiang's girl portraits. Notwithstanding, the majority of Chinese exhibitors disappoint with its decorative or uninspiring works, especially the paintings of jade urinals and grenades.

Manolo Chrétien - Kennedy

French artists occupy the best collection on view at Redsea Gallery. Val’s bronze sculptures seem like an evolution of the Giacometti statuette, traversing demarcated spaces carved out from the air around it. Manolo Chrétien prints close-ups of aeroplane bodies onto brushed aluminium, its shimmery projection capturing the human fascination with reflecting and changing light. A different aesthetic tradition prevails in the textured works by Japanese artists. Powdered rock illustrate melancholic figures, which Yamada Kumiko explains her intent to “paint these transitions of feeling” as translated in the brochure. Represented by H-art Beat, Masayuki Tsubota’s minimalist constructs had me reaching for an empty wallet. Gesso and tin foil is utilised brilliantly to create texture and light, the small-sized installations evoking a contemporary sense of equilibrium in itself, despite the singular colours applied.

Masayuki Tsubota 坪田昌之 - The Wall of Self (2013): YT-687 [left]; YT-689 [right]