07 March 2014

Stories From the Soil @ G13

Many Malaysian artists live outside the city due to costs considerations, but also because it is more conducive for one to work closer to nature, away from the urban flashes & bangs. A keen observation of the natural habitat is evident in Faizal Suhif's small prints, wherein a seed and a crustacean are drawn in wonderful detail, then combined into surreal effect. The experience of exhibiting overseas have duly opened horizons for the young artist, who constructs a thin wall of soil that supposedly emerges from one corner of the gallery. Two large "Buka Tanah" canvases are placed above this nook, the dirt trail leading towards a circular pastiche of earthy produce such as orange yam and beige squash. Most wall hangings are made with monoprints, stencils, and oil paint. Colour-printed texture forms its background, layered with white lines, silver smoke, and scrawled verses.

Simbiosis (2013)

Prominent demarcations in 'Sepetak Puisi Sepi' and 'Salji di Meru' mark few visually attractive pictures, among the many exhibited. This singular focus on one natural element makes an uninteresting show, where similar preoccupations with earth and rock, are already evident in his previous output. Soil and seeds are noble entities that deserve artistic exploration, but a two-dimensional rendering of its textural properties only serve as wallpaper material. These subjects have been drawn by mentor Jalaini Abu Hassan in a more vibrant style, during Jai's phase of appropriating Malay cultural artefacts. Nevertheless, the laudable move to construct an installation, heralds a hopeful step for Faizal towards a more sophisticated expression of his observations. Four catalogue essays espouse a similar encouragement, an amusing yet serious indication of local graduates' difficulty, to break away from art school training.

Installation view of Buka Tanah (2014)

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