29 November 2013

Young Guns @ White Box

Framing - be it a physical border or a contextualised concept, are inherent to any artwork as we perceive it. Bayu Utomo Radjikin's attempt to frame (in galling red & black) 13 young artists as the next generation, seems a little gratuitous considering that a number of them have exhibited at House of Matahati. The scarlet wall behind Seah Zelin's 'The Unknown Adventure' sets the tone, where very large works are displayed on a contrasting background. Associating a seminal artwork with size is perilous, notwithstanding the corresponding higher price tag. Painters Haslin Ismail and Fadilah Karim's large canvases draw familiar styles, as Chong Ai Lei continues to struggle while depicting a vibrant outdoor scene, let down by the subject's lack of personality. Many of the participants stagnated after a promising start, hopefully because of a sophomoric slump and not due to being shrouded by the cloud of fame.

Akhmal Asyraf - The Distance Between Us (2013) [top; bottom shows close-up of underlying green]

Despite a strong resentment towards employing old furniture in artworks, Akhmal Asyraf's scraped wood construct enchants via the green layer of pigment uncovered beneath marine blue windows. Skin-deep commentaries extend to Najib Bamadhaj's stencilled tiger and Al-Khuzairie Ali's slot machine, while the tribute to his newborn by Ruzzeki Harris appears sloppily done, a precarious step towards an idleness evident in Samsudin Wahab's lazy road sign. Donald Abraham surprises with an attractive painting, his distinctive creatures projecting vivid interactions "to depict different circumstances of life" (from artist's statement). Engaging blends of colour underlie the storyboard, as its characters step into each other's demarcated spaces to inject volume onto the canvas. Black dripping paint forms a great background, which frame should be recreated by a prospective collector for maximum effect.

Donald Abraham - Setiap Satu Situasi Pembakar Semangat didalam Kegelapan (2013) [Installation view and close-ups]

chi too's 'What Turns Me On' is a ridiculous take on the "Nyala" theme, where the viewer is invited to turn on/off the lights illuminating the exhibition space. Depicting ir/relevance as a random function strikes an irresistible metaphor, which questions curatorial selection and its reliance on personal taste and fortuitous luck. Framed beautifully in red wood, Azam Aris' 'Hit the Lights' combines various mediums to create an atmospheric scene. Cone-headed controllers and a stormy skyline are painted over a picture with imploding astronauts, an amusing spectacle made further attractive with red fairy dust covering it. Bayu may be catching fire dealing with suspicions of tokenism, but his actions may be justified for one whom has benefited from the now-perfunctory Bakat Muda Sezaman award. Official recognition by a fellow artist is the lesser evil, as compared to market forces or a pusillanimous national institution.

Azam Aris - Hit the Lights (2013)

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