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Showing posts from September, 2016

MAPPING (V): PERALIHAN @ NVAG

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...Ponderings about being Muslim are made manifest in complementing prints by Sulaiman Esa and Ponirin Amin, which should have been placed closer together. The former utilises iconographic juxtaposition to present an ongoing inquisition, while the latter formalises a meditative moment via gridlines, the girl in the foreground acting as an appreciative intermediary with the Supreme Being. At the opposite end of the gallery, one comes across in sequence - a reconceptualised pastoral landscape by Redza Piyadasa, two paintings by Ismail Zain highlighting the aura of cultural motifs, Joseph Tan’s large and misty scene, and a pioneering example of Islamic calligraphy as fine art by Ahmad Khalid Yusof. Appreciation quickly turns into irritation, as I notice that the English titles have been omitted from wall labels, an observation applicable to other exhibits in the gallery.

Displayed together under the section titled ‘Pasca Dasar Kebudayaan Kebangsaan’, these five artworks form an awkward c…

MAPPING (IV): PERALIHAN @ NVAG

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…This segment of Balai Seni Lukis Negara’s “MAPPING” project focuses on the 1960s and 1970s timeframe in Malaysian art history. A glaring difference with “Formasi” showing downstairs, is the lack of archival documentation which supplement the exhibits. The presentation of “Peralihan” is split into two galleries without a clear narrative difference, resulting in an incongruous visiting experience.  One obvious reference is the clich├ęd tale of Abstract Expressionism’s popularity, and artists’ reaction towards this preferred style. It is disappointing that the curators have chosen to go with this outdated storyline, even if it is a convenient excuse to fit pieces from the national collection, into two galleries of different sizes. Writings by Redza Piyadasa, who propagated this belief during his involvement with the institution, hang heavily within the second floor galleries.

Such a set up renders the contents of Galeri 2B as periphery displays, a shame considering the great modernist qu…

Cage of Deliverance @ Wei-Ling Contemporary

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Mortification of the flesh is a religious practice that is difficult to forget once seen. In Rajinder Singh’s case, it is the bearing of kavadi by devotees who worship the Hindu God of war, and the cheek & skin piercings commonly associated with this ritual. The artist expands his horizon to include many other cultural icons which represent deliverance, or the human need for atonement from shame. At the deep end of the gallery, a sequence of straight lines cut into five fingers is projected, disarming the visitor who had just walked past gilded poles and an assortment of Chinese plates & bowls laid out on the ground. Rajinder says that these objects are part of a performance to re-enact a wake, which is documented on a screen nearby. 

Wall hangings fall into three categories – square mandala-like paintings with figurative poses embedded, triptychs that both construct and deconstruct cultural designs, and large depictions of icons amalgamated from various cultures the artist i…