Showing posts from June, 2015

(Collecting? Buying? Acquiring?) Art

“A subject matter that I am contemplating nowadays and that I am personally concerned with is the nature of a collection and the status of a collector. When talking about collections, we have to distinguish the differences between building a collection and owning a collection . While when we talk about collectors, we have to distinguish being a collector and becoming a collector . So, here we have four keywords: to build, to own, to be and to become . In the case of collectors, of which I am not one (and it annoys me all the time), we have: to build and to be . Someone who is a collector and wants to build a collection has an idea from the very beginning. Once he sets off his adventure, he has no other ambition than to make the collection as complete, complex and exemplary as possible. Is this a vice or a virtue? I don’t know.” - Brussels collector Herman Daled, interview with Selina Ting, InitiArt Magazine, Paris, 6 October 2011 Hamidi Hadi - Embryo (2005) Why does

Textile Tales of Pua Kumbu @ Universiti Malaya Art Gallery

Browsing through six partitioned sections, the organisers successfully create a modern museum-style exhibition , complete with technology-aided displays that include the use of an augmented reality mobile app, video projections, and recreated environs with sound boxes. A university research and collaboration project that focuses on one longhouse community, the content is light and understandably so, as most people from Peninsular Malaysia (myself included) have little knowledge about aborigine cultures that share the same nationality. Documentary loops about Iban women and the weaving of Pua threads are well-narrated – albeit with a foreign accent – and sufficiently draw attention without over-emphasis on the exotic. Weaving Pua Kumbu - Iban ceremonial textile [from The Star Online YouTube channel] The wonderful “Pua Slider” utilises mobile tablets to associate visual motifs on a stretched piece of fabric, while QR codes which generate maker and title information offer gimmic

Winter Garden: The Exploration Of Micropop Imagination In Contemporary Japanese Art @ University Malaya Art Gallery

Japan. Micropop . Winter. Such obscure and faraway notions come together in an art exhibition at one quiet university gallery. Cute cats, rebellious acts, and manga characters, display a collective reaction to local norms, and does little to increase one’s appreciation of Japanese culture beyond existing perceptions. Paintings by Makiko Kudo and Masaya Chiba display a strong sense of melancholia, especially in the wooden rod jutting out from the latter’s ‘story of famous tree #6’. Most works , however, “…often seems idiotically primitive in technique and absurdly obvious in concept” ( David Balzer ). A certain dullness covers most paintings, unsurprising given the transportation mileage these works have accumulated (the exhibition has travelled for seven years to at least 18 countries, and just showed at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang). Video snapshots of Taro Izumi – White Bear (2009) Like the crazy game shows on Japanese television, works that project weird hilarity are

I Am Ten @ Richard Koh’s

After 3+ years of visiting Malaysian art galleries, art fatigue finally sets in. And it has to happen at my favourite neighbourhood gallery , whose international reach now warrants another house for showing art, sixth floor mall spaces be damned. Stuck in an anxious status is Gan Chin Lee, whose panoramic kopitiam scene recalls the vivid colours of Ivan Lam with a Phuan Thai Meng earmark, which sitters’ heads are blacked out as foreign entities. One distinguished figure sits within the darkness in Justin Lim’s ‘The Collector’, another black piece acting as a teaser for upcoming solo exhibitions. From an older series , Liew Kwai Fei’s flat colours in odd-shaped frames are presented in a beguilingly attractive manner, hugging the wall with negative space in between shapes providing a respite from the other abstract works on show. Installation view of Liew Kwai Fei – Untitled (from Shape, Colour, Quantity, and Scale series) (2010) ‘Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing’, comman

Known x Unknown @ Aku Café & Gallery

Working without the explicit support of an art dealer and/or institutional support can be difficult, especially when artists want to be regarded as more than just a graphic designer or crafty artisan. Elevation to the fine art pantheon, requires the support and patronage from an elitist group of collector/curator/gallerist, especially prevalent in Malaysia’s small art scene. As art seeps into middle-class consciousness, this elite group is diluted, or the hope is that it will be. Contributing to this erosion of power is the sembilan art residency program, an initiative driven by enthusiasts to increase art awareness and ownership among the public. Inviting artists to stay at foreign locations with an objective to produce artworks is a forceful objective, but the program’s second iteration contains sufficient interesting pictures that refresh the tired eye.  Installation view of ERYN (2015) - [top] Shell Bonsai; [bottom] Sleeping Bonsai [picture taken from juxtaART.the sequel we

Snippets: Taiwan, Apr 2015

One pleasant Taichung memory is sitting on a mat surrounded by casually displayed art at 無為草堂, a rustic and serene tea house that befits the description of an oasis within the urban sprawl. The next day, I visited the astoundingly large National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art 國立台灣美術館, which had 5 shows ongoing on top of exhibiting pieces from its permanent collection indoors and outdoors. The main showcase is “TYPEMOTION” , “an international research, edition and exhibition project” sponsored by the Goethe-Institut, which aims to explore typography in moving images since the early 1900s. Browsing a multitude of looping videos within an intentionally dizzy layout, one forsakes deep appreciation of its compendious exhibits, to focus on twelve works by Taiwanese artists. Tsai Charwei 蔡佳葳 - Incense Mantra 香咒 (2013) Chinese ideograms make great figurative representations, and different approaches – from computer animations to a robot installation – are equally effective. Leaving wond