Phenomena @ Chin Thye Hin 振泰兴一号店

Visiting the Kepong Baru wet market on a weekend morning is a phenomenal event – navigate through crowd of cars and people, taste mango slices offered by the fruit seller, step on melted ice emitting a fishy smell, feel the texture of anchovies and potatoes, shout orders to the char kuay teow hawker, etc. One pastel green metal door along the street is quaint but not out of place, opening up to a flight of stairs strewn with crushed Styrofoam containers. Kang Mei Yi’s percipient intervention is well-placed to remind visitors, especially one whom just arrived from the marketplace, of one’s improvident attitude towards the disposable object. A supplementary exhibit by Gan Kwang Ze hangs from the joist, his bulbous knots made of black plastic bags, suspending the unnecessary aesthetic judgement cast upon a functional item. 

Installation views

“Phenomena” is the second group show organised this year by collective Ongoing Projects, offering a platform for young artists to exhibit and gain credibility. A non-conventional gallery fits the experimental nature and a youthful uncertainty that pervades the works, the diminished expectations setting the scene for an enjoyable viewing in the sunlit space. Kwang Ze’s ‘The Nest’ was last seen in a final year students’ exhibition, which include paintings by Grace Yeo Ning and Justin Low Yuan Koon also featured here. Bold outlines hamper the former’s presentation; the latter’s muted surrealism recalls the works of Gan Tee Sheng, but with better spacing between subjects. Positioning contributes significantly to the photograph’s impact in Ho Chee Jen’s series of “Roots or Branches”, which first and fifth panoramas offer a more salient perspective than the rest.

Ho Chee Jen - Roots or Branches V (2013)

The quarter-life crisis sentiment from “Knot” persists here, as Krystie Ng subjects Disney characters to modern-day scenarios, dispelling unrealistic fairy tale expectations in the process. Broken mirrors and wall writings resort to visual form as expressive technique, although it is amusing how Lee Sin Yee’s repeated jottings recall both Bart Simpson and Tracey Emin at the same time. Kepong native Chong Yi Lin builds a kaleidoscope with pictures captured at the pasar outside, projecting condensed yet vivid images in a delightful cycle. Constructing memories are a form of escapism necessary in the age of simulacra. As a twenty-something confronting harsh realities, however, retreating to the hustle and bustle of the wet market, may be the best remedy after all.

Digital collages from Chong Yi Lin - Kalos . Eidos . Skopeô (2014)