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 movie-crazed college days, it was eye-opening to realise that banners with Henri Matisse's designs are hanging overhead. Recognisable motifs from 'The Thousand and One Nights' and 'Icarus (Jazz)', results in a strong yearning to visit "Matisse: The Cut-Outs", currently showing at Tate Modern.

Henri Matisse cut-outs banners hanging at the top floor of Mid Valley Megamall

Md Fadli Yusoff's solo exhibition "A Day in Kota Lama" is organised by one collector, following on a curious trend which sees art enthusiasts jump onto the event production bandwagon. Everyday scenes from the peninsula east coast is rendered realistically in acrylic, the painting compositions mostly based on photographs. These works are a touch inferior to Chang Fee Ming's rustic charm, yet rural nostalgia does have a market in the city, where works are priced RM 18,000 upwards. A weaving lady represents the culture of hardworking womenfolk well known in this state, one where its misogynistic culture represses and empowers females at the same time.

Md Fadli Yusoff - Kampung Penambang, 11:11 am (2014)

Representing the dysfunctional National Visual Arts Gallery at a tourism event in Marina Putrajaya, Azliza Ayob invites audience participation to create flowers from plastic bags. Democratic acts to raise public awareness are highly commendable, and I am constantly amazed at the level of dedication by Malaysian artists. Involving themselves in a wide range of roles such as curatorship, educator, activist, and critic, some local artists even traverse snobbish cliques to contribute their efforts, to help increase appreciation of a meaningful art practice beyond commercial success. Hats off to Azliza, and other such artists!

Azliza Ayob - Flowers of Peace (2014); [inset] Artist and the public

Haslin Ismail's recent output exhibits an exploration of mediums to effectively portray dystopian images, not unlike for a sci-fi animated movie. Apart from the pencil drawing 'Mindmix', also the exhibition title, a black background is utilised to create a strong contrast with the curious subjects. Human and cyborg body parts no longer excite, but its luminous painted effects and cut-pasted faces of statues intrigue, while ‘Crouching Down Inside A Deep Ravine’ recalls the more powerful works from Haslin’s past. "...(W)e can generally say that his art has profound relevance to the discourse on post humanism.", remarks Nur Hanim Khairuddin in a fustian catalogue essay, its overblown statements resulting in me re-watching clips of Metropolis

Haslin Ismail - The Divine Invasion (2014)