28 February 2017

Of Unlearning and Relearning @ OUR ArtProjects

The introduction to this exhibition states, (i)n recent years, art has taken a back seat as (Wong) Hoy Cheong takes on a more active role in politics and policy-making. This may well be Hoy Cheong's final exhibition of never-before-seen paper-based works. For visitors who are familiar with Hoy Cheong's work, the exhibition can be seen as a mini-survey of his practice.” As the story goes, friends of the esteemed Malaysian artist came to the opening and asked, ‘where are Hoy Cheong’s works?’ For one who knows little about his oeuvre, this selling show of drawings and prints provides good insight into the artist’s methods. After a couple rounds of observation, I conclude that Hoy Cheong’s drawn line projects a strong sense of restlessness, which contradicts with the labour-intensive studies for installations also displayed in the gallery. 

Exhibition snapshot

Two-worded statements demarcate the exhibits nicely into time periods, starting with a landscape painting from secondary school, to prints done overseas, to attempts at recording cultural forms, to political posters, and onto preparatory studies for large installations, or unrealised projects. Like everyone else, the influence of the Western canon is apparent in earlier works. By 1986, a certain figurative aesthetic was formed, which culminated in his landmark series of charcoal drawings “Of Migrants and Rubber Trees”. The exhibition fizzles out after “Women of Chow Kit”, as the remaining studies – collages, or small versions of installation work – are more interesting only if one knew about the end-product. One exception is the proposal for “Food of the Gods”, which illustrates 98 ‘Chocolate Slaves’ facing the window with sunlight streaming in. Bittersweet, one imagines.

Study for Installation: Food of the Gods - Chocolate History (1998)

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