Showing posts from January, 2016

After-image: Living with the Ghosts in my House @ Wei-Ling Gallery

Pushing open the gallery door, one is greeted by a toy panda souvenir encased in a suspended acrylic cube. It hangs in the balance, affixed to one bottle of 1Malaysia mineral water placed on the floor, an accident waiting to happen. Flanking the visitor, blue light illuminates a blurred image of one voter’s cross and the ideogram 票 (vote/ ticket), creating a spooky suspicion that Malaysian political symbols have taken on a life of its own, then  occupied this Brickfields shop lot. Sidestepping divider screens made from a single black & white photograph composing many sheets, I see limp plastic car banners rolled up in one corner, before getting overwhelmed by a line of lovely pillow covers hanging overhead like flags.  Installation snapshot of entrance into After Image: Living with the Ghosts in my House at Wei-Ling Gallery: [foreground] A Chinese Vote (2015); [right] Vote and Vow (2015) Utilising campaign paraphernalia collected from the last General Elections, Minstre

Snippets: Art Stage Singapore, Jan 2016

Half an hour in, and having browsed through a quarter of gallery booths , I was already visually tired. Regardless, galleries that presented a single artist offered more visual reward. My favourite art from last year is seen at Taipei’s Chini Gallery, while Made Wiguna Valasara’s stuffed canvas creations left a strong impression at Equator Art Projects’. Cairo’s Gallery Ward presented fascinating photographs, including digital snapshots of devotees stuck in a trance while performing the zikr , a Sufi dance. Santi Wangchuan’s majestic works at Yeo Workshop were a definite highlight – his collage of thread, rope, fishing equipment, and antique tools, weaving a unique aesthetic which aptly describes the artist’s personal background. Santi Wangchuan - The Gift From My Grandmother No.3 (2011) Malaysian galleries typically feature a mixed hang, with Liew Kwai Fei’s composition on Richard Koh’s large wall being particularly memorable. Coded as naiveté in contemporary art terms,

Travelling Into Imaginaria: A Visual Poetry @ Segaris AC

The exhibition catalogue informs that Shahrul Hisham Ahmad Tarmizi commutes regularly between Shah Alam and Machang, where he teaches. A lifestyle of frequent travelling has potentially affect his works, as the current solo show displays a remarkably positive trajectory, when compared to the artist’s previous output . Moving objects to the foreground, to establish visual entry points. Moving from aspirational storytelling to illustrating contemporary observations. Moving from slanted perspectives to a horizontal and straightforward picture plane. Moving gestural metaphors to object-based associations. Moving beyond canvas to draw on fabricated plates. Even moving from a large size to a more intimate scale!  One Thing After Another (2015) Objects as metaphors are popular catch-all devices utilised in contemporary painting, especially in Southeast Asia where surrealism and pop are commonly referenced to the point of being cliché. Combine that with a poor sense of scale, and

Art of ASEAN: Our Exhibition @ Sasana Kijang

“…ASEAN’s fundamental and enduring purpose is to ensure a modicum of order and civility in a region where neither is to be taken for granted […] ASEAN works by consensus and can only work by consensus. This is because Southeast Asia is a very diverse region and ASEAN member states differ in levels of economic development; we differ in types of political systems; we differ in our core identities of race, language and religion; and hence we often differ in how each of us defines our national interests within the ASEAN framework even though we all have come to accept that framework as one of our most important shared interests.” - Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, ‘A Cow is Not A Horse’, opening speech at the Youth Model ASEAN Conference, 5th Oct 2015 Sopheap Pich - Untitled (Red Square Wall Relief) (2015) No cows or horses are referenced in the three sections of this group exhibition, titled “Bridging Past and Present”, “Between Us, Among Us”, and “Formation and Linkages

Khayamiya: Khedival to Contemporary @ Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Described as “the Egyptian art of tent-making”, Khayamiya (خيّامية) were used as doorways, canopies, or decorative walls. These beautiful textiles with geometric Islamic designs were first documented in photographs during the Khedival period (1867 – 1914), when Egypt was a state within the Ottoman Empire. It is a dying tradition within Egypt, where pieces from the early 20th century are now preserved in collections found in “…farms in Alaska, country estates in the UK, and weddings in rural Australia”. Exhibited works include ‘The Thatcher Panel’ and ‘The Rhode Island Panel’, which large sizes indicate that it may have adorned ceilings. Contemporary creations are smaller and more obviously decorative, although the reason behind its popularity decline is not clear. Installation view of the Ceremonial Tent (c. 1900–1910) Islamic designs typically employ cubic perspectives, where geometric and natural patterns overlay each plane with no clear beginning and end. Repeated patterns