Showing posts from July, 2017

3/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Cecil Rajendra once commented on Lee Kian Seng’s ‘Of ' Image, Object, Illusion ' – Off Series Mechanism’: “…It is loaded with symbolism that teases and invites the viewer to interpretations. Why is the flag reversed? What does the cockroach on the top right of the painting mean? Does it augur ill for our future? It is also a beautifully composed picture that achieves an almost perfect balance between subject matter and media..." While the artist’s displeasure with Balai for exhibiting his works wrongly is well known, it is perplexing how they got it wrong again, including the artwork title on the wall placard. One student noticed that the lighting is wrong (my observation: is the real flag hung too low?), as there is no shadow reflected onto the floor. If the presentation of art is the responsibility of the curators, then this one is also on them. Installation snapshot of Lee Kian Seng – ‘Of ' Image, Object, Illusion ' – Off Series Mechanism’ (1977)

2/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

With 5 curators working within 5 broad themes , one can look past incoherent curatorship, especially when the “Negaraku” exhibition is part of a larger patriotism project. Apart from works that feature political slogans, most exhibits present little correlation to the idea of nation-states, which is a good thing. For the casual visitor, visiting the exhibition is a pleasant affair, apart from the occasional irritation felt when reading wall placards. The decision to state the age of the artist on a separate placard is odd, notwithstanding theoretical debates on when an artwork is completed . Translation is the real bugbear, as the task to render all titles into Bahasa Melayu, looked like it was done by an intern and reviewed by no one. Typos and illegible texts abound. If the presentation of art is the responsibility of the curators, then this one’s on them. Wall text for a 1971 painting by Ibrahim Hussein – title is ‘Unknown’? Mesonit bod ? Bahasa or English to name the collecti

1/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Even before entering the exhibition gallery, “Negaraku” makes a loud statement via the hanging of Zhang Zhou’s ‘Keranamu Malaysia’ (who?) at the lobby, flanked by a mixed media painting by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed with people & place names emblazoned across it, and two installations by Zulkifli Yusoff. The latter is a visual translation of the agricultural diversity program Rancangan Buku Hijau , launched by Tun Abdul Razak in 1974. With its layered canvas strips, resin-encased protrusions, and wall-height display, Zulkifli’s work seems to encompass all five of the exhibition’s curatorial themes: Landscape, Social Interaction, Beliefs, Abstract and Inheritance/ Independence . For all its virtuosity, there is only one reason why it is presented in Balai’s lobby – as a talking point when the current Prime Minister (and namesake reference) opened the “Negaraku” exhibition on 16th June. My country, indeed. Zulkifli Yusoff – The Green Book (Razak Series) (2014)

Snippets: USA, Mar 2017

Notes at SFMOMA : Fun exit by getting lost in a Richard Serra construct, although a so-so permanent hang offers little surprise. One gallery dedicated to Alexander Calder presents a great range beyond the well-known mobiles, and provides visual evidence that “the exceptional quality of his sculpture was often the result of its unique combination of precision and chance.” Also poignant was a room full of Warhols, where one is surrounded by re-printed portraits of dead celebrities, as if visual immortality is preserved in an unnatural and ironic (‘Pop’) state. I learned about Martin Puryear from John Yau’s reviews of the artist, and it was a pleasure to finally see the fully-formed artworks. Martin Puryear – Untitled (1990) Kerry James Marshall retrospective at MOCA : Commenting upon “the presence and absence of blackness”, “Mastry” presents important works by one well-known American contemporary painter. From early self-portraits that emphasize blackness, to crowded and symbo

Di Mana (Where Are) Young @ National Art Gallery

Visitors ascending the spiral walkway to the third-floor galleries are in for a treat . Walking past well-executed paintings – some surreal figurations, some abstract expressions – one is greeted by a large marionette made from jute ropes. Lisa Foo’s aptly-titled ‘Being in the Moment’ grants playful freedom; Otherwise one can slingshot chalk onto a classroom blackboard, duck and run through a geometric-shaped passage, sit on beautifully-designed rubber wood bar stools, lie down inside a bulbous plastic bag (with a fan blowing inside), or engage in a game of Chinese chess with trapezoidal constructs as moving pieces. Within the smaller gallery hangs a floral wreath made from plastic bottles, while a comic strip about Kapitan Yap Ah Loy is encased in an acrylic box nearby, and a collection of repurposed biscuit tin cans and small framed drawings is arranged in one corner of the gallery. Installation view of Lisa Foo – Being in the Moment (2017) I appreciate Anna Azzreena’s quir

Barehands 2017 @ National Art Gallery

The sequence of events that culminated in this exhibition is well worth recounting. As stated in the catalogue, it started with Juhari Said inviting Anees Maani to his studio Akaldiulu in 2010. In 2014, Anees joined Mamoru Abe for another residency at Akaldiulu, then Juhari visited Anees’ studio in Amman the following year. Upon returning to Malaysia, Juhari and Setiawan Sabana arranged for the inaugural Barehands – Asian Artist Residency Project to be held in Bandung, with 19 participants from five countries. The rotation continued with Mamoru hosting 21 artists in Fukuoka, who stayed in Munakata for a week. For this Kuala Lumpur leg, 28 participants spent a month beginning April 2017, in five studios spread across town – Akaldiulu, Pantau Iraga (Awang Damit Ahmad), Studio Tikus (Samsudin Wahab), M.I.A. Studio, and RAG Studio (Ramlan Abdullah). Kenji Makizono – The City and Its Tower (2017) While residency programs offer great learning and networking opportunities among fel