Showing posts from November, 2017

To You I Surrender My Vanity @ Suma Orientalis

The Christian ring to the exhibition title is deliberate – Eng Hwee Chu’s devotion to her religion and family, are clearly on display in her art. Consisting of signature acrylic paintings, preparatory sketches, watercolours & pastels, and charcoal & graphite drawings, this collection of works provides a satisfying look-through at the 50-years old’s career. Entering the new bungalow-cum-gallery space, the visitor is greeted by two paintings from the “Black Moon” series made in the early 1990s. The crimson figure and its corresponding shadow, wavy landscape as background, gestures of anguish and cynicism, are all hallmarks in Hwee Chu’s subsequent output. Her more recent works on display suggest an increasingly confident and still-evolving artist.  Victims of Struggling Live (2017) The exhibition statement describes well a typical painting by Hwee Chu – “(s)he casts her doppelgänger self and others close to her into her paintings, lingering them onto the canvas surroun

KL Biennale 2017 (I): Under Construction

After two visits to Balai Seni Negara, and one sojourn at Universiti Malaya's Piyadasa Gallery, there is much to ponder about the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Biennale. Beyond the initial disappointment of navigating a terrible website, arriving at empty galleries and a broken elevator, I have since encountered thoughtful installations and great individual artworks, and a couple effective arrangements befitting its cheesy theme. It is unfortunate, yet unsurprising, that the first note on this five-months event is about (self)-censorship. One day before its official opening, news portal The Malaysian Insight reports that Aisyah Baharuddin has chosen to cover 'Under Construction' in black netting, due to the removal of certain components in her (and her collaborators') installation by authorities . A police investigation pertaining to this matter is ongoing.  Installation snapshot (taken on 17th November 2017) Occupying a long floor space on the second floor, visi


“M” recalls ‘M’, a memorable work by Tan Zi Hao I last saw three years ago. The found-object aesthetic extends to shop signs hung here, where a pawnbroker’s signage – with its four languages and prominently circled 當 ideogram – greets the gallery visitor. Shown next is a paperback Susur Galur Bahasa Melayu by eminent linguistics scholar Asmah Haji Omar, placed before three similar book covers where the words “Bahasa Melayu” is translated into Chinese, then Jawi, then “Bahasa Malaysia”. The Chinese rendition is beguiling; While “Bahasa 巴哈薩” gets a direct phonetic translation, the rendering “Melayu 巫來由” now implies “Malay origins”, due to the process of translating Latin alphabets into monosyllable Chinese characters. Although illegible, the Jawi translation reminds me of the Arabic script adapted to write the Malay language, when Islam arrived at this region in the 12th century. “M” for mortgage? Exhibition snapshot at gallery entrance Therein lies the theme explored in the

This Is Where We Meet @ OUR ArtProjects

As large surveys featuring Malaysian modern art are under way in two KL institutions, this r elatively small exhibition stands out as a significant complement, to one’s understanding about abstraction in Malaysian art. Lee Mok Yee’s creations highlight its medium’s inherent properties, although the pattern-dominated wall hangings attenuate the transformative effect, of utilising materials such as wood cork and incense to make art. Conversely, my attention was chiefly absorbed with ten paintings by Liew Kwai Fei, whose exhibits hardly resemble the artist’s recent output featuring waggish characters or painted texts. My deliberation of these paintings is influenced too by John Yau, whose reviews of New York gallery exhibitions I find fascinating, where the writer’s detailed descriptions of painted surfaces and poetic recount of its visual impact are remarkable. Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017) Indistinguishably titled ‘The Art of Painting’, each acrylic painting i