Great Malaysia Contemporary Art (GMCA) Preview @ Core Design Gallery

Ambitious in scale and intent, gallery director Scarlette Lee brings together an impressive group of Malaysian artists to exhibit at the upcoming Art Expo 2013. Huge canvases occupy the gallery space, where a call for museum-worthy pieces yield large-format works. Md Fadli Yusoff and Husin Hourmain contribute the figurative and calligraphic respectively, imbuing a spiritual substance into their paintings. An undulating texture describes Mohd Noor Mahmud's sawdust & acrylic creation 'Alun', but relates also to the symmetrical constructs by Multhalib Musa. Anuar Rashid conveys an otherworldly space with his radiant phoenix, while Hamir Soib comments cynically on the preferences of art auction bidders, via a Chinese landscape materialising within a giant koi. Seminal is repeatedly mentioned, employed perhaps as a marketing term since all displayed works are relatively new, notwithstanding its sublime quality.

[Art Expo 2013 update] Ahmad Fuad Osman - Hantuhantuhantuhantuhantu... (2013)

Tan Chin Kuan isolates a forlorn figure in shimmering rain, its expressionist projection executed with precision, although such imagery can no longer be interpreted in a fresh manner. Wife Eng Hwee Chu, however, exhibits a splendid painting that signifies the culmination of a lifetime's work. A golden flood parts in the middle where a river leads to coliseum steps and a bright sunset, flanked by oblong doors that illustrate a subversive Chinese culture. Fronted by familiar characters - the red figure and a textured shadow - this allegory highlights the adverse insecurities encountered by an ethnic-Chinese Malaysian woman. Realistic rendering of the human figure (look at the hands!) coupled with a thoughtful composition, mark this an instant masterpiece. Mature and confident brush strokes define this collection of paintings, as one eagerly anticipates Ahmad Fuad Osman's works, absent from the gallery but to be revealed at the Art Expo.

Eng Hwee Chu - Searching: Facing the New Edge (2012)

‘Pahang Warriors’, an installation by Zulkifli Yusoff, protrudes softly from the wall with its symmetric configuration and wonderfully warm domes. The patriotic artist displays an intuitive understanding of colour relationships and design forms, while maintaining his expert command of materials. Accompanying this exhibition are summarised artist biographies expounded by Zena Khan, one associated to Malaysia's most significant private art collection. While a single gathering of works can neither encompass all local contemporary art practices, nor sidestep the debate of what is contemporary, the gallery's effort and perseverance look likely to pay handsome dividends. Large attention-grabbing artworks and concise text, are cleverly publicised to attract prominent collectors and art fairs. It is my sincere hope that this promotional effort, will grant these artists the international recognition they deserve.

Close-up of Zulkifli Yusoff - Pahang Warriors (2013)