Showing posts from July, 2014

UNPACK-REPACK @ The Whiteaways Arcade, Penang (II – Still Unpacking)

...This in-between room exposes the visitor to the artist’s method, and is the first of two significant spaces that bookend the main exhibits. Practical questions arise – for non-photographers, is this paraphernalia more interesting than the wonderful ‘beer bottles and bananas gateway’ hanging nearby? Is this room just a typical how-stuff-works section within a tourist destination? No, this heuristic set up allows the invested visitor a break – the Japanese kire – and a place to catch one’s breath after seeing a collection of great art. Inspecting film negatives with a magnifying glass hints at what comes next, where one is treated to untitled photograph prints laid across slanted tables. The exhibition space Going Bananas , and its presented contents, pivot the show’s excellent layout and its archival contents. Like the row of broken plastic chairs seen here, a simple yet visually attractive configuration, leads one to uncover the gold behind it. ’Ke pesta’ or 3 arrows (1987)

UNPACK-REPACK @ The Whiteaways Arcade, Penang (I – Unpacking)

Ismail Hashim once stated, “when we take pictures of the sunrise or the turbulent sea, for example, are we aware of the other occurrences between the sunrise and the sunset? Things will naturally occur.” After his untimely demise having fell off a motorbike one year ago, the photography artist is given a posthumous tribute in the form of a “hybrid exhibition” , curated by Wong Hoy Cheong. Granted permission by Ismail’s estate to unpack and examine in-progress works and left-behind items, Hoy Cheong‘s repackaged presentation is nothing short of excellent, given the practical constraints of a short time frame. The enclosed space is reconfigured into five rooms that start with a mini-retrospective of wall hangings, then a categorised collection of desk prints, before ending with a wistful tribute. In between are two sections of exhibits which reveal the strong hand of its prominent curator, whose astute set up goes a long way to highlight Ismail’s own genius. Old Chairs – still s

Pulse: May / June 2014 Art Auctions

The new player continues to struggle as The Edge Auction 2014 sold 51.8% of its 83 lots on offer, despite focusing its pitch on the wider region of Southeast Asia. Weeks of publicity cannot conceal its middling quality on display – even the Malaysian lots only registered a 58.3% sales rate, bought-in pieces including works by Ahmad Zakii and Sharifah Fatimah. It also has to suffer the embarrassment of withdrawing works that featured in the business digest’s own article about dubious art. 4 out of 13 Indonesian lots sold, including one Yusuf Hasim with a low estimate of RM 10.5k but sold for RM 2.5k; Two Singaporean works also went for bargain-basement prices. Paintings by Thai artists captivate, but more popular were the six Filipino works, which include one beautiful vista by Ernest Concepcion. Other smart-value acquisitions went to those with bigger wallets – a breezy Yusof Ghani, a well-preserved Chuah Thean Teng, and a powerful new “Seascape” by Latiff Mohidin, round up proceed

Hidup Terlampau Selesa @ Kedai

Alternative art space Kedai presents two young artists who draw fully from their demographic background – the urban Malay – to “…reflect(s) the deliberateness in their practice of addressing sensitive topics – an explicit strategy used to question the everyday in Malaysia.” Greeting the visitor is a sofa inscribed with Hidup Terlampau Selesa , the furniture itself an art piece that cheekily depicts the comfortable effects of social engineering. Stacked tin cans in two supermarket trolleys are wrapped with drawings of ejaculations in a bathroom, its labels hinting at the portliness of the male subject. Akmal Borhan's illustrations are droll and sometimes salacious, especially the series of under-armpit pictures exhibited in a covered box. This peephole installation invites an unsuspecting audience to a voyeuristic view, of one lewd personal fetish. Installation view of Akmal Borhan - Bilik 5 (2014) [picture from Kedai's Facebook page] The overbearing smuttiness is pre

Knot @ Feeka

Krystie Ng's catalogue essay begins with: "They called it the quarter-life crisis; it is in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult, having to face the reality after graduating from schools." This uncertainty manifests in the exhibits at "Knot"  organised by Ongoing Projects, a collective of five Dasein graduates. Krystie's' summer photographs of Europe blanks out a former lover, where the act of editing out a physical presence from a vacation, only serves to prolong a niggling pain. More transient are Kang Mei Yi's snapshots of time spent with friends, the pictures too blurry to effectively portray wasted youth. Abortive also are Lee Sin Yee's rotating white boxes, its ambient noise hardly registering a notice from the conditioned urban visitor. Installation view of Race Phua - [left] Property Phenomena (2014); [right] Bubbles (2014) Illustrated vignettes from daily ob

Snippets: Q2 2014

Specialising in Chinese ink painting upon graduation and a goldsmith by profession, Kenny Wong Kim Lee experiments with precious metals and stones to recreate imperial Chinese jewellery. Traditional motifs such as bats and snakes are no longer regarded auspicious, yet Kenny insists of etching such designs into his ruyi 如意 sceptres. This persistence to honour visual icons is evident in other amulets, but what catches the eye is a mobile phone cover made out of high standard silver. Questions about material and value arise while the contemporary object retains its function as a fashion accessory. Personal exploits sometimes unveil new knowledge, but it takes an astute curatorial decision to grant one such opportunities. For "Fulgent Reverie" , the creative risk taken is a worthy gamble, amidst the art world's current fascination with jewellery. Jewellery by Kenny Wong Having made many visits to the top floor cinema in Mid Valley Megamall, especially during the mov