Showing posts from January, 2015

Beauties @ National Portrait Gallery

“…perfection emanates beyond the physical form and resonates strength in character”, reads the wall text for “Beauties”. Featuring the celebrated Hoessein Enas and fellow members of Angkatan Pelukis SeMalaysia, works from the national collection are exhibited alongside his “Malaysians” series of portraits commissioned by Shell Malaysia. These historical pictures depict a time when schoolchildren wore skirts above their knees, and carried rattan-weave baskets, Singaporean women donned red headdresses, and full-bodied Malay stewardesses accompanied Caucasian pilots up in the air. Hoessein Enas - Timah (1962) Like ‘Memetik Daun Tembakau di Kelantan’, Hoessein’s oil paintings project an uncertain and sometimes crude technique, especially when juxtaposed with the smoothly-applied colours seen in the works of protégé Mazeli Mat Som. Hoessein’s mastery in pastel, however, is undisputed in one gorgeous side portrait ‘Timah’, or in ‘Mandi Safar’ with its confident strokes. The underra

Ombak @ Sasana Kijang + Shared Passion @ The Edge Galerie

Collectors and artist collaborate to exhibit paintings across two galleries, as maintaining one’s market value is an apparent concern given the poor quality of Yusof Ghani’s new works. The “Ombak” series is a swirling mess, its expressive brushstrokes mistaken for an absent angst, as imagined emotions take the form of primary colour blends. White waves in a couple of “Batu Karang” pictures refer to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but fresh ideas for expressionist painting are otherwise swept away, in favour of decorating large interiors with visual drama. Ironically, one of the best work shown in Sasana Kijang, is nestled right outside the “Ombak” exhibition space. ‘Hiba 2’ touches a nerve with its cubist approach, its curved lines drawing a contained action that illustrates motion better than most of his later paintings. Siri Tari - Hiba 2 (1984) Although many local artists are labelled as Abstract Expressionist , not many imitate the movement’s forms like Yusof does, a char

Snippets: Gillman Barracks, Dec 2014

With most exhibition spaces in Gillman Barracks closed during year-end, Singaporean galleries Fost and Yeo Workshop extend a neighbour’s welcome by staying open. A new visitor’s disappointment is soothed, when viewing the astonishing works of Amsterdam-based Xue Mu at the latter. Thin black cloth with moon images are suspended from the ceiling, its folding screens-like arrangement actually referencing the Monoceros constellation. The surprise continues when observing its wall prints, as the mysterious lunar forms are revealed to be microscopic snapshots of bath foam in a black tub. As Jesse van Winden’s catalogue essay states, “(t)hey are reconstructed constellations of another order, of the personal subconscious and the collective conscious, like meta-Rorschach imagery in the white cubes of contemporary art.“ Installation snapshot at Xue Mu - A Childish Nothingness [picture from Yeo Workshop event webpage ] “A Childish Nothingness 2014” series of photographs mesmerise with

Snippets: Singapore Art Museum, Dec 2014

Heman Chong’s wall texts at the reception area of the Singapore Art Museum ends with “(s)ome of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.” This clever statement forecasts the unrealised expectations of viewing “ Medium at Large ”, an exhibition that aims to challenge traditional art categories, which works are arranged loosely by the medium it subverts. Also showing at the main building are works by finalists of the Signature Art Prize 2014, a lucrative award accorded to regional artists, which submissions are nominated and judged by art professionals. Seen together in one visit, “(t)here’s a wonderful sense of flow as you move (from) one artwork to another and forms overlap…” ( Mayo Martin ). Labels provide contexts for a collection of great individual art, as the hit-or-miss curatorial layout and competition judging issues recede to the background. Early 'right-hand side' version of Lisa Reihana - in Pursuit of Venus (2012) [from in Pursuit of Venus website

Art KL-itique 2014 Look Back

Following in the tradition of my favourite non-authoritative end of year awards, the 2014 visual art events in Kuala Lumpur that tickled my fancy are… Favourite programming : Goethe Institut’s visual arts events ; Furniture and photography exhibitions at Galeri Petronas, and the wonderful drawings at Galeri Serdang, prove refreshing with its creative interpretations of common mediums. Walking in the surroundings of Petaling Street at daybreak with Susanne Bosch remains a vivid memory, and so are the performances and newspaper cut-outs exhibited towards the end of the German artist’s residency at Lostgens'. Favourite solo (new) exhibition : The Pleasures of Odds and Ends ; Gan Siong King's show of paintings triggered a ridiculous amount of thoughts about images, and will be remembered as good art despite a negative assessment. Azliza Ayob’s surreal collages were decorative, fun, and showed significant artistic growth for one committed artist. Phuan Thai Meng

From Bandung to Berlin

Having listened to the captivating interviews BFM conducted with historian Peter Carey , one’s historical imagination is ignited while browsing “From Bandung to Berlin ”, an online project that creates fictional history in the “time between the first Asian-African conference in Bandung 1955 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.” The prologue describes the historical archive as “…a utopian – or dystopian – site of knowledge, an imagined junction where identities, memories, values and beliefs are contested. In most cases it is impossible to grasp truth as a whole, or to depict it with precision.” With its narratives categorised in past-present-future time frames, navigating the website is like visiting an art space with three sections. Trailer for War is a Tender Thing [clips from this documentary by Adjani Arumpac appear in the 'Spectre of Alonto’ narrative, by Renan Laru-an] "The New Past" covers stories from the three countries that make up the proposed