Showing posts from October, 2015

Symphony of Unity @ Sasana Kijang

As Malaysians demonstrated unity by thronging the streets donned in yellow, many whom took the opportunity to “re-discover” the streets of Kuala Lumpur, it is a pity they did not venture out to Sasana Kijang for an invigorating dose of art. Intentional curatorship is unnecessary when broad categories are adhered to, and the extra effort here to pair pictures up make for a wonderfully pleasant walkthrough. Having seen many pastoral works hung on these walls, two pairs of collaged women stand out. Redza Piyadasa’s horribly garish ‘Two Malay Women’ sets off Norma Abbas’ ‘Two Heads Better Than One’ to great effect. Photocopied images of traditional dress are juxtaposed with the latter’s multifaceted women, whose short hair and trendy tops denote a cosmopolitan setting. Norma Abbas - Two Heads Better Than One (1989) In a clash of approaches, the formal idealism in ethnic Chinese artists is compared with the honest and straightforward depictions by ethnic Malay artists. In ‘Wedding

Be Careful or You May Become The Centre @ Wei-Ling Contemporary

A giant stick figure disposing off its head, greets the visitor into Chong Kim Chiew’s solo exhibition , where some works are attributed to the artist’s avatars. As if needing a punchline to pull together the group show, this mural utilises a universal warning sign to grab visual attention, its facile presentation unlike Kim Chiew’s typically less pretty creations. The icon nevertheless exudes the artist's confident charm, here daring the invested viewer to dispose preconceptions, or be blown away by its conceptual heft. Stickers delineate the manifested identities, its author and title (‘0 – Across your space, across his(her) space, across my space.’) constructing pronouns that describe a third dimension, alluding to a painterly issue confronted by artists for a long time. In Kim Chiew’s creations, time is presented as the third trajectory which alters spatial experience.  Installation view: (2015) [from l to r] Kim  –  Skin Time; 0 – Across your space, across his(her) spa

The French ConneXion @ NVAG (II)

... In contrast with Georgette’s luscious paintings, Lai Foong Moi’s works lack the former’s decorative flourish. Adhering to traditional composition conventions, landscapes such as ‘Menuai Padi’ have a high horizon line with a diminishing scale of figures. Pictures done in 1959 of an Iban dancer and a Dayak longhouse intrigue for its early depictions in Borneo, as I succumb to a heroic imagining of one Seremban-born 30-year old unmarried female artist crossing the sea to visit tribes located on a neighbouring island. Perhaps paying tribute to celibate womenfolk brought into Singapore as construction labourers, ‘Samsui Woman’ displays a more controlled brushwork. The artist skilfully presents the sitter as an iconic figure, despite her hunched back and stout limbs, complete with receding hills in the background. Lai Foong Moi - Rumah Panjang Dayak (1959) Next, four intimate works by Chen Jen Hao grab attention. Maroon rambutans hang within a Chinese scroll. One stern-looking

The French ConneXion @ NVAG (I)

Judging from its tacky title, it is easy to dismiss this exhibition as another blasé attempt by the local institution to promote a diplomatic agenda. To my surprise, it turned out better than expected. Despite its misgivings – “The French link is ambitious. I can’t seem to grasp how the works are ‘connected’”, says a visitor – the show should be commended for exhibiting 81 pieces from the national collection, some of which have been kept in storage for a long time. Curator Ooi Kok Chuen makes do with a limited timeframe, and puts together a decent number of works to occupy the cavernous space and poor ambient lighting in Gallery 2A. Good art helps one sidestep cynical concerns about institutional intent or curatorship, and there are many exhibited works worth a second look here. Chew Kiat Lim - Pembebasan (1968) Two portraits painted thirty years apart, project sincere and imperfect depictions of artists’ spouses. O Don Peris illustrates the intricate details of his partner’

Snippets: Q3 2015

Famous for his nude figures, or just its outlines, Khalil Ibrahim has sustained a long career as a full-time artist with his figurative paintings. In the retrospective at the relocated KL Lifestyle Art Space, it is indicative that Khalil’s artistic development has stagnated since the 1980s. Comparing two watercolour pictures of nude figures hung side by side – one from 1980 and the other from 2005 – the difference is not discernible, down to the disproportionate calves.  For his current signature style, grey-brownish bodies evolve into primary colour forms, effectively diminishing the sensual elements. At its best, this abstraction denotes a loss of desire; at its worst, such pictures pander only to market pressures. Alas, the predicaments of a modern artist in Malaysia. Khalil Ibrahim – Pantai Bali (2005) Artists based in Kuala Lumpur and Manila exhibit works in “Tales of the City” at G13, assigned the theme to “explore the cultural complexities of urban condition in both

DUOA: Eternal Duties @ HOM Art Trans

Two lecturers set themselves apart from their students, by utilising unconventional mediums whilst retaining an attractive aesthetic value, although such gestures may not be enough to trigger innovation. The Malaysian identity preoccupies works by Bibi Chew and Sharmiza Abu Hassan, this search for a legitimate identity seemingly outdated in a time when reflexive personas are acted out within virtual communities. Plaster sculptures of food hang in pouches, and bunches of coffee strainers in varying shades of brown, are examples of attention-grabbing art which presentations are too obscure to be effective. Bibi’s always-attractive wooden board creations fare better with “Pigmentation”, a series depicting brain development, although the suggested reading of neutralised racial codes is difficult to empathise with. Bibi Chew - Pigmentation #3 (2015) ‘Bridging’ by Sharmiza follows on an old series that play upon the Puteri Gunung Ledang fable, while ‘Country of Mind’ is an intrig