Kembara Jiwa Fukuoka: Enhanced Passion (1st Cycle) @ Galeri Chandan

Spreading the good word is a most commendable act, as Galeri Chandan continues to showcase top Malaysian contemporary visual artists to an international audience, via its Kembara Jiwa program. Diversity takes precedence over any specific theme, where one gets to appreciate great quality works from relevant contemporary artists. Greeting the visitor is Juhari Said's 'Two Dalmatians and Red Line', an elaborate woodcut print of two asymmetrical dogs in profile, separated by a red tear too ideally located on its central axis. Flourishing from the ground nearby are Umibaizurah Mahir's sculptures – beautiful porcelain wares decorated with maps and stacked in her inimitable playful style.

Umibaizurah Mahir - After Some Hours on The Train... Series 1 (2013)

It is a delight to see Fauzulyusri’s works after the impressive "Coreng" solo exhibition, where he maintains the naiveté picture, but stays clear of politics. The usage of blue, marks an increasing awareness of pictorial depth via colour juxtapositions. This complements the artist's mastery in composition, where familiar found objects dot the canvas in seeming disorder, especially apparent in the square grids of ‘Bercoreng’. Contrasting this disarray are Azliza Ayob’s congruous works, which combine surreal elements and curvilinear designs to great effect. The best representation is ‘Orgasmic’, a sensual masterpiece where natural forms and pretty colours arouse the human desire. Husband Ilham Fadhli depicts the more practical concerns of food and shelter, where his surreal landscapes contain a large plant that dominates the canvas, rooted in the middle and surrounded by typically lost inhabitants. 

Fauzulyusri - Sicoreng (2013)

In an installation that ‘ripples’ with discursive intent, Hasnul Jamal Saidon reflects fondly upon his 2003 residency at Fukuoka. I marvel at the experiment conducted then, where a virtual exchange between Malaysian and Japanese students, interrogated a range of topics from cultural relativism to the manipulation of form/identity/object. Crude and cynical, Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman's wooden constructs comment on the two opposing political parties, while imploring viewers to literally look closer. Kamal Sabran + Goh Lee Kwang’s ‘Bunyian Aneh dari Batu Gajah’ starts off with dissonant blares, which familiar sounds from a band practice, will surely amuse the music practitioner. Proceedings become less interesting during the interviews, but the patient and open-minded viewer will be rewarded when the music plays.

Azliza Ayob - Orgasmic (2013)

Considering the available floor space and abundant natural light, the exhibition suffers from poor lighting, and an irrelevant placement of works. These deficiencies notably hamper the presentation of Izan Tahir + Marvin Chan's “Pendekar Jari Kuat” series, where Chinese voters/demigods are immortalised underneath a layer of resin, fossilizing a political myth with current sentiments. Finger puppets, Chinese ghosts, and "Malaysian Spring" flags, are among the clever motifs used, notwithstanding the raised index finger. Samsudin Wahab's 'Panic Attack' could benefit from being hung in this dark area, where its running lights can achieve a stronger impact, reminding us of a certain doom when the lights go out.

Izan Tahir + Marvin Chan (IM) - Dusun Pendekar Jari Kuat (2013)

Blackouts aside, Phuan Thai Meng presents a sardonic commentary on another General Elections fiasco, where Malaysian identity cards are painstakingly recreated with sarcastic aplomb. The Malay man restrains his scowl in Jalaini Abu Hassan's diptych 'Tiger Tamer', whom is connected to a mediating and smiling self portrait, via a red Chinese dragon. Allusion to the recent GE13 is inevitable, as identity remains a passionate topic among local artists. Haslin Ismail's "Ultramundane" series seem to be devoid of political sentiments, where bizarre and bulbous drawings indicate a further departure from his previous surreal works. One hopes that this collection of enhanced works, invoke a similar passion among Malaysians, to recognise quality and support the local contemporary visual arts.

Phuan Thai Meng - I see... series (2013)