10 December 2014

Revelation of Jalan Sultan @ Lostgens’

Paper lanterns and banners with painted slogans hang side-by-side in a mid-autumn festival celebration held along Jalan Sultan, the protest in disguise documented by Gan Sze Hooi in ‘Guardian of Petaling Street’. Dedicated to all who participated in activities organised by the Petaling Street Community Art Project (PSCAP), Sze Hooi’s inaugural solo exhibition draws on his great eye for two-dimensional perspective, to preserve a heritage conservation movement as an interactive storyboard. Progress takes the form of construction work, where the viewer “discover faces that we recognize in the community” among old buildings and barren landscapes. The artist’s daughter is portrayed as a giant symbol of hope, contrasting with the wooden tower of despair erected at the centre of the exhibition space.

Paradise Lost (2014)

Painted onto canvas backed with magnet, moveable human figures and modern machines allow the audience to create subjective scenes and construct desired narratives. This outstanding approach triggers active participation and empowers the imagination, directing the visitor’s thoughts towards cultural preservation and urban livelihood issues. The closed window mechanism for ‘Apocalypse’ and ‘Hotel Lok Ann’ also work well, especially for the latter which opens up to an entire cast of eccentric characters and ample space for individual storytelling. In ‘City of Corpses’, heritage buildings are painted on the flip side of magnetic parts that make up the Warisan Merdeka Tower, the artist illustrating the cost of development in a most direct manner.

Installation and detail snapshots of Hotel Lok Ann (2014)

Earthy colours and flat painting form a subtle background for amazing scenes to materialise – one can pile up cranes and cars, arrange for a figure to offer incense sticks to a character that looks suspiciously like the curator, or have Tunku Abdul Rahman fly over Stadium Merdeka instead of proclaiming Malaysia’s independence in it. These subjects, including the MRT construction workers, are a part of the locale’s storied history. At this juncture, the artist’s attempt to document the past, present, and future, becomes muddled as a moralising sentiment creeps into the works. Despite his best efforts, the invisible power that masterminded this turn of events remains unseen throughout. Perhaps, that is the revelation we all are waiting for.

For My Mother (2012)

"And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”" 
- Revelation 21: 5–8, English Standard Version

Evolution of House of Castaway I (2014) [picture taken from the Facebook event page]

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