Snippets: Q4 2013

After Chi Too's zine which featured photographs of himself in a pinafore, Sharon Chin returned from her successful performance at the Singapore Biennale, to compile her "Mandi Bunga" illustrations into a zine. Hand-drawn curves and black ink fills are simple yet underrated in this age of technology, where the zine's picture quality was sufficient to print a good-looking reproduction.

Poster / final page of Sharon Chin's "Mandi Bunga (2013)" zine

"Day Zero Night Hero" showcases Ivan Lam's sequential series of 3 resin-encased works that portray straightforward binaries of time-bound notions, where familiar imagery and strong contrasts typify the artist's urban aesthetic. Visual appeal is a primary objective, seen in the pleasing hues that bind the first picture, the spatial constructs of the second, and the solidified waves in the third. Persistent effort is required to control industrial resin, its multi layered effect glossing over a plain obsession to create visual depth. These gelatin-like enclosures are the last examples of a tedious approach, its bulkiness weighing down the attractive diptychs unnecessarily. Continuous experimentation appears to be Ivan's motto as we look forward to his next evolution, occasionally reminiscing on beautiful panoramic narratives.

[2013, top l-r] I have hated you too much to be grateful of the day; I have loved you too fondly to be fearful of the night; Hero/Zero
[close-ups, bottom l-r] thick layer of resin separates each diptych; handmade battleship; resin waves

Centre for Asian Photographers opens in Jaya One, where the passionate owners intend to promote good (not art) photography for an under-appreciated visual medium in Malaysia. Highlights from the Maybank Photography Awards 2013 are shown in conjunction with the gallery opening, where the "Inspiring Asia" theme fits nicely with the centre's objectives. Photographer of the Year winner Yaman Ibrahim executes technically across multiple categories to pip the award from runner-up Carsten Stormer, whose series of shots taken in the Syria war zone are captivating but do not comply to the strict judging criteria. Great captures include the unanimous selection for best portrait - an old lady holding up a picture of a younger man's lower face; Street photography finalist Elvies Inocencio's monochromatic scene of three boys back flipping into open water, delineates a carefree exuberance in a remarkable composition.

Elvies C. Inocencio - Kalibo Aklan Philippines 

Dead fish is employed as a subject matter in DevLee's "鱼肆 IKAN" exhibition, where carcasses are magnified into black and white overstatements. Bone and tail state a prehistoric piscine evolution, while close-ups recall humans' ancient fascination with leathery texture. Adept at dramatic juxtapositions, notably the pictures with a black background, the photographer makes the most of a specimen's physical characteristics. The artist statement attempts to philosophise a personal interest, quoting the epistemic metaphor of Zhuangzi's Happiness of Fish. Arguing for a fish's metaphysical presence by presenting its material form is cloying, a fishy approach to turn interesting photographs into something more. The viewer will likely side with Huizi in the tale, who replies: "我非子,固不知子矣,子固非魚也,子不知魚之樂,全矣。" 

DevLee - 逍遥/Ethereal 03 (2013)

A visit to the University of Malaya sees a student showcase with impressive watercolour paintings by an engineering student and high-priced works from a budding Iranian artist. Mat Ali Mat Som's second solo exhibition "Unsung Heroes" features metal warriors posing dramatically on rock, where rippling muscles and flying strands of hair render the sculptures similar to Storm Warriors figurines. Historical warriors fight to resolve issues we still experience today, but heroes portrayed in such majestically furious manner are ultimately dated in form. 'Sipat Kandel III' captures attention which rock and metal become one, its ribbon and diamond shapes complementing a focus on the arms' uplifting gesture.

Mat Ali Mat Som - Sipat Kandel III (2012)