Showing posts from April, 2015

Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya @ Prototype Gallery L4

In the famous old building beside Petronas Twin Towers, a square recess in the floor is stuck with quotes, one which states, “God created many species and every species has a place to live. Ants and snakes have a hole. Fish have water. Tigers and bears have bushes. But Rohingya don’t have any place to live. We want to ask the world, where is our place?” . Surrounding pin boards feature black & white captures taken from 2006 to 2014 which document the plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group persecuted in Myanmar and internationally recognised as de jure stateless , i.e. one without citizenship of any nation state. Rakhine Buddhist Monks shout anti-Rohingya and anti-UN chants as they protest through the streets of Sittwe In an interview with BFM, photographer Greg Constantine says, "...statelessness touches on so many bigger themes, that are indicators of how we live life in 2015 (…) statelessness deals with the theme of identity, the power of the state, abou

M13 @ Richard Koh Fine Art

Aged pillars made from plastic bowls and white frames fabricated with powder coated steel, greet the visitor into Haffendi Anuar’s imagined cityscape , where buildings are reduced into a cluster of attractive objects. Line and colour join into symmetrical shapes, as deliberate shadows and smooth gradients render optical illusion. The catalogue essay tells the tale of one Malaysian who spent significant time overseas, now back in Kuala Lumpur as a foreign observer of mundane things. Despite being different in form from his previous works, the layering, use of colour, and everyday objects as art-making material, remain consistent within Haffendi’s oeuvre.  Installation view [picture taken from Richard Koh Fine Art's website ] “I like the genericness of our reality,” the artist states in a media interview . Perpetuating a standard approach and evading the Malaysian art context, are the unique propositions in this exhibition. Its title M13 refers to an apartment block numbe

Pulse: Q1 2015 Art Auctions

Residents flock supermarkets for sanitary pads and toilet rolls. Customs and police officers scurry about trying to follow orders. Book stores make last minute changes to their accounting software. Auction houses flood the secondary market with unknown artists and insignificant works. All part of the mad rush before the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax in Malaysia. Wants are mistaken for needs, or pathetically marketed as such, as auction houses collectively forget its roles as players in the luxury goods market. Four out of five auctions were held in Kuala Lumpur over a span of three weekends, where middling sales and a general down trend expose local auctions for what they are – an exercise in financial speculation. John Lee Joo For - Untitled (1966) Paintings by Tajuddin Ismail, Awang Damit, and Yusof Ghani, continue to trade favourably, while works by everyone else hardly generate interest. Masterpiece Malaysia sells three pieces by Tay Mo Leong, last transact

HOW TO live your life according to someone else @ Kedai

Curator Izat Arif stages another astoundingly coherent show, where the exhibition theme is bespoke in the works of three artists, and extends to the storefront / window display approach. Greeting the visitor at the left is a long neck pot on a pedestal, and at right, a table with four human legs and one brain-y teapot. Lily Osman’s confectionary creation is literally gut-wrenching, yet delightfully absurd. One can imagine the hilarity, when ants swarm and devour the few pieces of chopped liver served on its tiered cake stand. Viscera is neutralised via the surrounding white sculptures of Naz Imagine, its seductive lines taking after slacking postures. Lily Osman - The Red Dinner (2015) Assuming the role of artefact, pottery is paired up and propped against these constructs, to juxtapose traditional and modern notions of beauty in sculpture. An obsession with art manifests in the presented poses and its titles, evident in the kneeling reverence towards ‘What would I do with

Picturing Change @ White Box

Despite good intentions to educate the public about visual culture , a dearth of visually attractive exhibits render this show a wordy affair, notwithstanding its concise wall notes. The wide time gap between seven posters from the National Archives, to Liew Kung Yu's majestic 2009 artwork, contribute to a lacklustre presentation. Sourcing difficulties aside, this incoherence can be attributed to the wide range of mediums on show, and its "one exhibit per medium" approach. Artful interventions include one clay tapir and a Photoshop-ed lightbox , while social awareness campaigns take the form of overhead  photographs, typographic posters, and protest banners. Jaguh/Pendatang (2014) Highlighting an advertising agency's online video about racism, and its merchandise-based flood relief efforts, promotes the lofty notion about high-minded corporates. Old posters are interesting to the modern viewer for its message but not its style, while 1Malaysia products de

Ayat-ayat Semesta @ University of Malaya Art Gallery

Melukis itu Menulis - this wonderful maxim is a subject in one of Abdul Djalil Pirous's writings, and aptly describes the works displayed here. A doyen in the Bandung art scene, Pirous is also known as the pioneer in Southeast Asia who successfully melded Western abstract painting with Arabic calligraphy. Texts are moulded from marble paste and swathes of colours are accentuated with gold leaf, the combined presentation depicting Quranic verses as encased meditations mirroring inner reflections. Utilising strips of colour at its borders, two-dimensional compositions stretch beyond the canvas to encompass a wider universe, which Sulaiman Esa once described with reference to Islamic metaphysics as " open book, a panorama of signs ( ayat ) and symbols that man is constantly exhorted to study and contemplate so that he can gain the knowledge of higher Truth." Kurnia-Nya yang Mana yang Masih Kau Dustakan? (1974) The emotional qualities of colour field paintin