09 August 2016

Bukan Objek Seni @ Galeri Chandan

‘Apa Yang Kamu Lihat Semasa Ke Pameran?’ ‘Sold Out!!!’ ‘Merakyatkan Seni Dengan Membawa Seni Ke Masyarakat’. ‘Tajuk apa ya nak tulis? UNTITLED aje laaaaa…’ ‘I Create Retinal Art’. ‘Seniman Adalah Seorang Pemikir Bukan Sekadar Tukang Buat Lukisan Cantik…’ These statements are among many printed on title cards, and displayed in a cluster (shape of an Arabic alphabet?), by Amir Amin. Complete with medium description and price tag, the artist points out the significance of a title card, in-forming an artwork’s (and its creator’s) identity. One’s imagination easily runs wild, when informed that a work titled ‘MALAYSIA OH MALAYSIAKU’ is made from “fibre glass, epoxy resin, fabrics & oil paint on MDF board”. Many other titles simply refer to questions about conceptual art. 

Installation and detail snapshots of Amir Amin – I Thought the Definition if a Good Artist Is... (2016)

Multiple mentions of a “J.A.W.I.” series make reference to the expected mode of being a Malay artist, i.e. produce aesthetically pleasing paintings in series, in order to make a living. Poignant too because the gallery’s previous exhibition featured paintings of figurative poses in mosques, the wall titles re-enact certain challenging truths of being an artist in Malaysia. Amir is part of Bukan Seni-man collective, whose six other members occupy this small gallery space with found objects. Walking past cotton wool stuck on a wall, and chewing gum stuck on a stool, not all exhibits are effective. Although climbing up the gallery’s ladder to look at Nazrul Hamzah’s horizontally-mounted canvas, is highly recommended for all visitors.

Installation snapshots of [foreground] Khairani Ahmad Zakuan – Hyoscine Butylbromide (2016); Nazrul Hamzah – Top Secret (2016)

Khairani Ahmad Zakuan’s empty silhouettes invoke loud laughter; more absurd and clever is “Pecahkan Karya Ini (…)” by Kamal Sazali. A hammer is encased within a glass box and presented as an art object, its title prodding the audience to destroy the artwork, with an object already declared as art. Khairani’s statement in Malay adds another dimension; Art and objecthood may be tired tropes in Western art history, but artworks in Malaysia are still overwhelmingly perceived as useless objects, and found objects as a medium is often utilised for metaphorical purpose only, without concern for its materiality. Bukan Seni-man’s KL debut show is brave and defies expectations. Coming back to Amir’s wall titles, the most expensive artwork asks (titled), ‘Mana Mungkin Objek Tidak Hidup Berbicara dan Mempertahankan Dirinya Sendiri?’ 

Installation snapshot of Kamal Sazali – Pecahkan Karya Ini, Jika Anda Tidak Sukakanya. Gunakan Tukul Tersebut. (2016)

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