03 September 2015

Facets of Art Show Platforms

Gallery hopping in the Mont Kiara / Solaris area on a weekend afternoon, it is interesting to note the differing approaches of private galleries at this upmarket locale, in the absence of memorable art. Isolated destinations are the norm, and public walk-ins are rare. An exception is “Facets” showing works from an all-women collective at White Box. Lisa Foo’s leafy installations are typically great to interact with, but ill-suited in a white box environment, although ‘Grooving with the Wind’ is a charming welcome sight. Multi-media creations by Jasmine Kok feature sinuous lines and attractive colours, her best works being stone and ceramic sculptures that recall a primitive celebration of the female form. In a society eager to proclaim man as god, this contested shape is beautifully represented in the V-shaped “Sensuality Dress” series, and ‘A Cut’ cut from Ipoh marble.

Jasmine Kok - [l] A Cut (2009); [r] Sprout (2010)

In the exhibited paintings, nude figures dissolve into abstracted designs, and full-frontal faces depict a challenging individual stance. Gallerist Artemis Art does well to distract the audience and steer away from potential controversy, also successfully showing original works by dedicated emerging artists. The same cannot be said about “Platform II”, the group exhibition for young artists held at upstairs neighbour Galeri Chandan. The influence of Malaysian art teachers manifest in an obvious manner, from figurative paintings where scale is not a concern, to found object constructs that denote singular and uninspiring references. Two graduates curate this group exhibition, another sign of direction-less initiatives by galleries who, now think that having curators and printed catalogues are the way forward to establish professionalism. 

Yante Ismail - Desire (2015)

Perhaps the ambitious gallery is building a pipeline of future contributing resources, since it is also taking part in two art fairs overseas at the same time. More commendable is its last project “#Art4ManekUrai”, which utilised sales of artworks to fund house-building efforts for a flood-stricken family, even following up and reporting on its construction status. Held at Segaris Art Centre on the same floor, “ArtAid15” is another charity show, its static nature of contributing to a good cause synonymous with a gallery that peddles luxury collectibles to specific local audiences. Few kilometres away, The Edge Galerie adopts a similar business approach, via overt comparisons of established artists with investment-grade stocks. The artist is trumpeted as cultural icon, a tough proposition when looking at glittery but boring paintings by former Anak Alam member Ali Rahamad.

Noor Mahnun Mohamed - Spiral (2015)

When a scam of an auction is held downtown – where GiclĂ©e prints are priced at five figures – local art auction pioneer Henry Butcher collaborates with UOB to exhibit works by past winners of the bank’s annual art awards. Painting and its limitations are on full display, from watercolour depictions of jetties, to messy abstracts and realistic figures, to the intentional blanks on Ng Swee Keat and Tang Yeok Khang’s canvases. Interesting older works include surreal drawings by Shirley Wong, whose juxtapositions are thematically political yet fun to look at. Exhibited this year in Singapore, Minstrel Kuik’s charcoal illustrations project a personal empathy for female movie characters, the portraits effectively amalgamating facile fictional stereotypes with dramatic self-realisation. Gallery hopping in an affluent neighbourhood, I ask – what is corrupt, in art?

Wong Shirley - Portrait for Long Hair (2013)

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