Showing posts from June, 2017

ILHAM Contemporary Forum Malaysia 2009 – 2017 (I) @ ILHAM

The gallery director – a former curator – invites another curator, to select seven young curators, whom each propose five recent Malaysian “visual artworks or cultural projects” for display at a 20-weeks long exhibition. Keywords include ‘Malaysian’ – which nationality should be identified by all participating curators, artists, or project initiators; ‘Young’ – criteria for curators to be below 39 years old, i.e. the definition of youth in Malaysian political parties; ‘Recent’ – created/ visualized within 2009-now, i.e. years since Najib Razak became the Malaysian Prime Minister. Can recent art stir political awareness in the Malaysian youth , as the next General Elections loom overhead in the coming months? Instagram page for Gan Siong King - YariYarimoriya (2015) Or is this just a sequel to the gallery’s 2016 show “ Era Mahathir ”, with curators clearly named and readily available to be criticised? The exhibition statement describes it as “an experimental programme” tha

Bumi Larangan: Zulkifli Dahlan @ National Art Gallery

Studying one artist’s progression based on works held by the family ~40 years after his death, is a messy effort. Curator Nur Hanim Khairuddin describes in her catalogue essay ‘ Yang Aneh, Nakal dan Trajis: Kehidupan dan Kesenian Zulkifli Mohd. Dahlan ’ – “(n)early all of the works in the collection are not dated (…) it is hard for us to determine precisely the different phases of the development of his imagery, for instance, the shift from partly dressed to totally naked figures, or from realist figures to hairy monsters to distorted forms to amoeba-like zoomorphic and biomorphic shapes; and the transition of the various configurations of his mutant hybrids: plant-animal, plant-object, animal-object, human-plant, human-animal, human-object, and so on and so forth.” Untitled (c. 1970s) “Apa yang dia lukis, bonjol-bonjol di dalam lukisan itu?”, asks Siti Zainon Ismail. Looking at the ink drawings on display at Galeri 2B, it is astounding how well these figurative characters

June 2017: The Month to Visit Balai Seni Negara

With six exhibitions running concurrently in the National Art Gallery , one suspects that concentrating so much glorious art into one building, is either one fortuitous coincidence, bad planning, or a trial run before the KL Biennale opens in November. While its galleries are relatively quiet most of the time, the Balai seems even more still in the month of Ramadan. Perhaps the gallery guards have been removed? Barring minor renovation work, school children, or the customary hustle bustle before a minister’s visit, the spacious environs typically offer interested persons a pleasant gallery viewing experience. A Aishah Abdul Latif – Pemandangan (1979) Very large wall hangings greet visitors into the Balai’s new-look lobby, the displayed works being part of “ Negaraku ”, a collection of art from the national collection and a few private collectors. In contrast with the chronological survey “ Mapping ” staged last year (will there be a permanent hang?), “Negaraku” includes more

Small Works @ Segaris

One admires the brutal honesty and self-awareness that Hamir Soib portrays. In a recent interview with a journalist, the artist remarked, “(a)fter my mother’s passing, I’m feeding off her energy and want to reflect that I’m not untouchable. I look at myself as a misfit among the elitists. That’s another reason why I’m starting from zero and putting large paintings aside. My parents always came to see all my shows and now there will be a big void.” “I’ve always been painting for others and that’s not fair to me. I’ve decided to liberate myself without needing to seek permission from others. This way I hope to gain more friends and new collectors. Now people cannot say my paintings are only for the elitists!” Installation snapshot of Siri Lalat (2017) It is perhaps fitting that “Siri Hospital” – paintings made when the artist was accompanying his late mother at hospital – stand out among this show of 100+ works. Relatively simple depictions of a doorknob, a blood bag, a cut po

Good Earth @ Galeri PETRONAS

How bad can an exhibition featuring works by Raja Shahriman, Multhalib Musa, Bibi Chew, Sharmiza Abu Hassan, Eric Peris, and Soraya Yusof Talismail, (the list goes on) be? Galeri PETRONAS plumbs into new depths of irreverence, with an exhibition statement that propagates aesthetic perfection, and one curator who contradicts himself in a cringe-worthy radio interview . Even after feigning illiteracy, I squint at sculptural details and glaring reflections from photographic exhibits, as spotlights render outstanding individual artworks illegible. For an exhibition that “explores the indefinable energy of creativity”, the gallery should just arrange for a lighting makeover and install additional ambient lights. No need to reimagine energy, if one cannot see properly. Installation snapshot [picture taken from Galeri PETRONAS Instagram page]

Boundaries of [dis] Beliefs @ White Box

"These are interesting times." Proclaims the wall statement, thus framing " Boundaries of [dis] Beliefs " as an exhibition of art that deal with contemporary concerns. It is unsurprising then, that the majority of displays project an unappealing aesthetic. A piece of meat, hanging over a weighing scale full of maggots. Stained coffee strainers and transparent national flags. Videos featuring grotesque 3-D characters, and the ghost of Malaysia's first Prime Minister. One painted portrait of a former deputy with his black eye. Photographs of PMs at recent political events offer a documentary perspective, yet leave a bitter taste. With its quirky DIY presentation, Alex Lee's installation 'Khabar Angin' stands out as a genuine oddity. Masnoor Ramli Mahmud - Yelling Wall (2017) A number of works employ the approach of distorting words figuratively. From the quote arranged in a pyramid by Zabas, to Liew Kwai Fei's unsuspecting puns of syste