14 November 2017

M @ A+ Works of Art

“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 these exhibits, which Eddin Khoo succinctly describes on radio as, “what happens when language, which predates nation, meets nation, and begins to serve the interest of nation.” Approaching the silver ‘Bhāṣā Jīva Vaṃśa’ inscription stone, its cracked halves suggest broken precepts. To quote sociologist Tham Seong Chee from a 1981 essay, “(l)anguage, according to a Malay saying, is “the soul of the nation” (bahasa jiwa bangsa). It is interesting to note that the word bahasa etymologically Sanskrit means both “language” and “manners”, so that bahasa in effect is associated with or implies “speech and breeding” or “speech as indicating breeding.”” Bahasa jiwa bangsa, has been upheld by the government agency Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka since its official formation in 1956, as the slogan for promoting the National Language. “M” for Moses?

Susur, Galur, dan Bahasa Melayu (2017)

“”M” provokes and frustrates us at every utterance (…) In our infantile babbling of “ma-ma-ma”, we pronounce the bilabial nasal…”, Zi Hao states in both exhibition statement and BFM interview. My first impression of “M” as exhibition title, however, is the capital letter’s pronunciation “em”. “M” as the sound of dithering. “M”, James Bond’s superior. “M” in the play M. Butterfly. “M” as a sign for male toilet. “M” the 1931 Fritz Lang film. “M+” the new museum in Hong Kong. That I did not think of “Malaysia” or “multilingualism”, denotes the interpretation gap between artist and spectator. Both topics are explicitly confronted in two older works – one heavily-subtitled Negaraku music video, and “The Danger of Translation Lies in That Which is Left Untranslated”, where each of the eighteen metal plates address specific issues in the Malaysian context. “M” for microwave?

Writing is a Strange Thing (2017)

The familiar silkscreened form is repeated in two new brilliantly-titled works. ‘Clowning/Crowning’ refers to political satire, while ‘Writing is a Strange Thing’ quotes Claude Lévi-Strauss from his travel memoir Tristes Tropiques. The anthropologist writes in the same chapter, that “(w)riting may not have sufficed to consolidate human knowledge, but it may well have been indispensable to the establishment of an enduring dominion.” Nevertheless, correlating this text with Zi Hao’s “Pen-Datang” is insufficient; The increasingly shorter word of “datang” upon each translation, stirs endless fascination too with its aesthetic design. Representation remains an area of improvement for the conceptual artist, whose use of visual cues is lacklustre in thematically strong works, such as the three-sided light enclosure emblazoned with “Mantra, Menteri, Mandarin”. “M” for mimesis?

Exhibition snapshot

Language aside, this logocentric lamppost indicates a more prominent theme in this exhibition, i.e. the act of addressing. Four printed addresses are shown translated sequentially in ‘Addressing Home’, from Bahasa Malaysia to Chinese to English to Bahasa Melayu. The slippages in transliterations are summarily presented, delightful as its result may be – Mekar Berseri sounds like a more attractive township than Seri Kembangan. Along with the accompanying work ‘Unaddressing Home’, one’s physical dwelling is rendered as a sovereign claim by the nation, whereby the utility of language does not correspond to the immediate commune, but to an imagined polity. A starting point for both works is the use of Bahasa Malaysia in public signboards and road names, which is stipulated in the National Language Act 1963/67 and local council by-laws. “M” for mail?

Addressing Home (2017)

Looking at the four signboards recreated on galvanized iron sheets, my reaction and subsequent interpretations fail to reconcile with Zi Hao’s statement claiming “(n)ot only do multilingual signages hint at the nature of Malaysia’s linguistic landscape, more insidiously, they betoken some form of inequality and exploitation in the name of language.” Surely, commercial intentions direct business owners in the design of their signboards? Malay is compulsory, English sounds privileged, and Chinese is to address the main customer base. By asserting his observations, the artist puts himself at the mercy of his own critique, that the written language as an approach to convey ideals is an inadequate endeavor regardless. Addressing an issue, its corresponding artwork & presentation, and audience perception, is a tricky balancing act. Perhaps, more “M”-biguity is needed. “M” as ‘art coefficient’?

That Which Exploits, Unites (2017)

“In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane. The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of. Consequently, in the chain of reactions accompanying the creative act, a link is missing. This gap, representing the inability of the artist to express fully his intention, this difference between what he intended to realize and did realize, is the personal ‘art coefficient’ contained in the work. In other words, the personal ‘art coefficient’ is like an arithmetical relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed.”
The Creative Act (1957), Marcel Duchamp, “The Writings of Marcel Duchamp”, ed. Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson, 1973 

Bhāṣā Jīva Vaṃśa (2017)

10 November 2017

This Is Where We Meet @ OUR ArtProjects

As large surveys featuring Malaysian modern art are under way in two KL institutions, this relatively 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 is a composition of flat colours and irregular shapes. The first work hung on the left upon entering the gallery, is demarcated crudely into two squares and one rectangle. In the top right box, a background of two rich red hues recalls Rothko, while two vertical mints strips painted atop it is further overlaid with two-three swatches of colour. The ruffled mustard outline of a white rectangle at the lower right, mirrors the carnation outline of a larger rectangle at the top left. However, how both impressions came to be are different. The former’s yellow is painted over at least two layers of blue shades before the box is depicted, while uneven white brush strokes created the jagged pink outline in the latter. Each swathe of hue is utilized elsewhere on the canvas, each outline shows through the colours underneath it, and each form comes into being from marks made on both the inside and the outside.

Detail snapshots of Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017)

The painting is incredibly well-balanced visually. Without a single focal point, the viewer’s looking is trained across the surface of the canvas. The roaming eye pauses at each assumed shape and colour, limiting its descriptive reading to a bare minimum. As a counterpoint to the common modes observed in Malaysian contemporary painting, there are no metaphorical symbols, no intentional obfuscation, no figurative gestures, no expressive brush strokes. It is just paint and canvas, not a webpage layout, not simplified abstraction, not child’s play. One fails to make sense of what is seen. It is avant-garde painting by deduction, whereby innovation is achieved through the failure of other approaches. In the age of disruption, Kwai Fei’s painting presents an oasis of mindfulness. The emphasis is on the current moment of looking, and over-thinking is discouraged.

[l] Lee Mok Yee - Two Bodies (2017); [r] Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017)

Two works hanging opposite immediately conjure faces, however grotesque or unintentional the impressions may be. While Mok Yee’s arrangement of incense seem to illustrate a bulbous nose, a blob of pink in Kwai Fei’s creation resembles a wagging tongue. Looking harder at the latter, and one realises the slight differences in laying paint upon canvas. From opaque finishes to thick washes to stripped away surfaces, painted effects are subtly noticeable, especially the two streams of turquoise drips in this picture. As I gaze longer at the square area in this painting, more associations come to mind – sunny day, ice mountains, a rock, prostrating figure, etc… The composition of colours and shapes alone draw out illusions, thereby offering a return to the purpose of drawing-painting. Similar reflections can be realized upon observing most of the painted exhibits.

[l] Lee Mok Yee - Net (2017); [r] Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017)

Admittedly, the pairing of Mok Yee’s and Kwai Fei’s works has an impact on the exhibition viewer. For another pairing hung on the wall at the gallery’s deep end, complementing features stand out – black is highlighted, vertical rectangles in ‘The Art of Painting’ enhance the geometry in ‘Net’, and the former’s pink and white lend a lush effect to the latter’s earthy flowers. However, the peeking pea pod/gold ingot forms, and underlying green lines, are muted in this presentation. The exhibition title is a misnomer, as both artists are not aware of each other’s current art, prior to this show. Kwai Fei revealed too in the artists’ talk, that contrary to the catalogue essay, ‘The Art of Painting’ is not a series of paintings, but a collection of standalone work. This becomes a key point to consider, when appreciating the three paintings hung close by.

Installation snapshot of: (2017) [foreground] Lee Mok Yee - The Stacking Memory Series I; [background] Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting, Lee Mok Yee - Pentagon

The paintings are a composition of rectangles, as one mentally assigns nouns – doors, windows, corridors – to these shapes. Upon individual inspection, each work explores different concerns in painting. Figure-ground relationship on the left, colour tone in the centre, and the one on the right… space? Larger than other paintings in this exhibition, the canvas is roughly divided into three sections, with flat colour fills and dry brushy outlines. The jagged line at the centre strangely recalls Clyfford Still, or a loose floorboard – both imagined objects which I have not seen clearly in real life. Such conjuring of read images also apply to several paintings. When attempts at making sense fail, a myriad of random terms come to mind – Matisse, impasto, Jolly Koh, mirroring, national flags of African countries, bevelled watermarks, colours that blend into the white wall, etc.

Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017)

Viewing Kwai Fei’s paintings in context of his previous body of work, and the non-figurative paintings of the 1960s currently on show at Sasana Kijang and ILHAM, there is good reason to step away from words and expressionism. The most common illusions on a two-dimensional surface one encounters daily, come from social media delivered on a mobile screen, where clickbait and fake news headlines stir emotions incessantly. ‘The Art of Painting’ offers an antidote. Quoting sentences from John Yau in his review of Don Voisine’s paintings, “(t)hese are the pleasures these paintings offer the viewer who cares to think about how complicated the everyday act of looking actually is, who is able to slow down long enough to pay attention to things as real as surface, colour, density, and space. The tension between the painting-as-container and the planar forms wedged, as well as layered, into it, is exquisitely tuned.”

Liew Kwai Fei - The Art of Painting (2017)

27 October 2017

Thirty Pieces of Silver @ Wei-Ling Gallery

Walking past antique furniture then ascending a flight of stairs into the gallery, one is greeted by 45 glass plate photographs made with early photographic processes. Encased in black frames and leather folders, these pictures are relatively tiny as compared to contemporary art photography, yet the images’ shiny surface and dark-on-dark presentation evoke an irresistible aura. The exhibition wall text describes K. Azril Ismail’s creations and salutes historical figures, “(t)hese pictures are hand-crafted, one of a kind, image-objects, with the lending hands of the great giants of photographic pioneers: Louis Daguerre, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Frederick Scott Archer, alongside with (John) Herschel, (Thomas) Wedgwood, (Carl Wilhelm) Scheele, (Humphry) Davy, (Nicéphore) Niépce, and (Hippolyte) Bayard.”

Skull, Warrior, Bird and Guide Book (Table Study) (2012) [picture from weiling-gallery.com]

With reference to the four photographic processes employed here, Wikipedia informs that daguerreotypes and salt prints were commonly produced between the 1840s and the 1850s, ambrotypes were dominant in the following decade, then superseded by tintypes in the 1870s, before film photography was introduced in 1885. In the gallery, exhibits are not grouped by processes, leaving the visitor to fully appreciate the captured images and tactile features of each individual plate. The first photograph – a daguerreotype titled ‘Skull, Warrior, Bird and Guide Book (Table Study)’ – projects a clear image with deep contrasts and faded edges, its brilliant surface emitting a bluish-grey tint. Shown next to it is a contemplative self-portrait, which together represents the artist’s reverence towards early photography modes, bathed in personal events and metaphoric presentations.

Handful of Coriander (2015) [picture from agno3solution.wordpress.com]

Displayed in between a couple tintypes for a ‘Strand of Green Grapes’ and a ‘Handful of Coriander’, are creations that celebrate the handmade craft and time-consuming effort behind Azril’s image objects. Three pictures refer to Gabriel Orozco’s ‘My Hands Are My Heart’ with an emphasis on the moulding hands, while ‘When the Day Turns Dark’ seemingly describes a yearning to return to the darkroom for image-making. The viewer is then provided an opportunity to peruse salt prints as a medium, with one set of three images showing an indoor portrait, a potted plant on a table, and an outdoor portrait. Traditional poses aside, its matte presentation is significantly different from the other exhibits, which I find appealing because of the lack of reflective glare (or the whiff of lavender oil as beeswax solvent?). 

Exhibition snapshot of: [from l to r] (2017) Morne; Wilted Chillies; Teaching Hands (Sitter; Arif)

Looking at the tintype ‘Red and Green Lettuce’, one is struck by its incredible high-contrast differential textures, that I imagine to be less apparent if the vegetables were captured via high-resolution colour photography. This explains my visual ambivalence towards contemporary lightbox advertisements, or perhaps highlights a certain truth about human vision when hue is an isolated characteristic. Like when a friend rings the doorbell when one is engrossed in reading, 8 pictures depicting ‘The UK Collodion Practitioners’ are shown next. Assuming these persons are the artist’s friends, this metaphorical jaunt recalls the joy of belonging, also drawing viewers’ curiosity towards the collodion process (as if the difference between ambrotype or tintype is not new knowledge!) 

Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Mansion (2014) [picture from weiling-gallery.com]

The next three photographs follow Azril on a trip down history lane. The gleaming ‘Lacock Abbey, the Fox Talbot Mansion’ is captured via a daguerreotype, the object effectively crediting both Talbot and Daguerre as photography’s joint inventors. Its golden frame corners recall the gold toning approach, that significantly improved the quality and appeal of these pioneers’ products. A tintype of ‘The Oriel Window’ refers to one of the earliest photographic negative in existence, while ‘Tree on a hill’ alludes to plants, a favoured subject matter for Talbot the amateur botanist. That Azril insisted on visiting these places and taking pictures of it using early photographic processes, triggers a thought – how interested are painters in investigating the origins of paint, as a picture-making medium? Is historical understanding not an urgent pursuit, if effort-intensive activities such as painting and early/film photography have now evolved into digital modes with mass appeal?

Candle (Diptych) (2017) 

Light, and figurative depiction, are topics of contemplation in the following exhibits. ‘Candle (Diptych)’ shows a lone melting candle, together with its glass negative and its wonderful built-up of salt on the surface. After straining my eyes at ‘Bloom in the Dark’, I do a double take at the blurred face of ‘The Painter’, which cracked black spectrum stained glass (?) suggests the disruptive impact photographic technology had on art and portraiture. Despite the strong visual appeal of individual plates, viewing the remaining third of the exhibition feels less coherent and overfull thematically. Classical memento mori tropes such as skulls, fruits, and flowers, are utilized, to present observations about a dying medium, monochromatic images, and a personal passion. A hand tinted capture of ‘Pink Orchids’ projects a watercolour flourish, while the wonderful textures in the ambrotype ‘Wrapped Pineapple’ cannot veil the obscurity of its subject matter.

The Painter (2014)

Judging from recent exhibitions featuring photographs – black-and-white, high-resolution pictures of street scenes and natural landscapes are the norm; For a competition open to international participants, alienating portraits with descriptive wall texts make the cut. Visual engagement with its audience, is anchored upon familiar nostalgia or highlighting the other, which follows a journalistic mode of presenting images. Azril’s pair of skulls – one wrapped, presented as a salt print, the other photographed and developed as an ambrotype – draw immediate attention to the medium and its craft, beyond its immediate aesthetic attraction. Such multi-layered image making, deserves more than just thirty pieces of silver.  

Exhibition snapshot of: (2017) [l] Wrapped Skull (Table Studies); [r] Skull (Table Studies)

14 October 2017

ILHAM Contemporary Forum: Malaysia 2009 – 2017 (II, Re-hang) @ ILHAM

In the previous blog post about the ILHAM Contemporary Forum, I wrote that “(c)oncluding what is contemporary is an impossible task, largely due to the different time ranges inherent in the making of exhibited projects.” I have been looking at it the wrong way, it seems. For the re-hang (week 14 of the 20-weeks long show), the revised exhibition text states that ‘Forum’, not ‘Contemporary’, is the pivotal keyword. My involvement in the programme also got deeper beyond an exhibition visitor. I attended the “Meet the Curators” forum when facilitator Lee Weng Choy and the seven project curators, talked about three topics – ‘Representation’, ‘Exhibition’, and ‘Contemporary’. In the same week re-hang took place, I was informed that my essay competition proposal was accepted; I then submitted a 2,000-words essay titled I See Efforts in Curating, but Whose Process is it? in the exhibition’s final week.

Installation snapshot of: [l] Lim Kok Yoong – Operasi Cassava 3.0 (2013); [r] Video made by project curator Kat Rahmat (2017)

With an emphasis on the ‘Forum’ as “a gathering where individuals can give voice to their thoughts and feelings”, the updated exhibition includes seven Q&A wall displays, each representing one project curator’s statement. While the information about who chose what remains concealed (although full disclosure was made by all towards the end of the “Meet the Curators” forum), these snippets reveal the deliberations of each participant, thus highlighting an aspect of the individual curating process. Those whom identify themselves as visual art curators are more conscious of exhibiting in institutional spaces, while the others seem more engaged with the curatorial themes outlined by the facilitators. The group curating process, however, remains invisible outside the arrangement of exhibits. 

Exhibits along the right passage in ILHAM 5th floor gallery

The most dramatic change in the re-hang belongs to the series of works from Liew Kwai Fei’s “Shape, Colour, Quantity, Scale”. chi too – project curator and responsible too for exhibition design – relinquishes control to the artist, who rearranges and re-hangs his modular paintings in between a wall of horizontal bands, with a few left free-standing on the floor. Pixels converge into a text or form, although the varying distances and overlays between Tetris-shaped paintings, result in a spectacularly playful yet disjointed scene that metaphorically represents the exhibition premise. If art is defined as how something is presented, does that relegate the curator to the role of merely a selector, and the exhibition designer – or artist, in this case – as the exhibition-maker?

Liew Kwai Fei’s rearrangement of works from “Shape, Colour, Quantity, Scale” (2010)

Another series of Kwai Fei’s green circle-in-red rectangle, chevron-shaped paintings, are hung on the stilts of Liew Seng Tat’s kampung house. Its parasitic attachment to vertical columns recalls traditional unearthly beliefs about houses, yet the paintings’ colours conjure a socio-political dimension within the overall presentation. The spiritual quality extends to the two static exhibits by Haffendi Anuar which imply movement, placed at the beginning of the left and right passages that divide the 5th floor gallery. Placing Buden’s ‘Mud Painting’ close by Tan Zi Hao’s ‘The Soil is Not Mine’ augments attention onto the theme of national identity, which gallery passage continues and ends wonderfully with Au Sow Yee’s meditative video installation that revolve around migrant labour experiences. 

Exhibits along the left passage in ILHAM 5th floor gallery

Looking at the exhibited materials relating to Buku Jalanan – which have changed markedly since its first hang – I recall a question asked by an audience member in the “Meet the Curators” forum. To paraphrase, “why did some select cultural projects for this exhibition, if it was acknowledged that the white cube may kill the work?” The difficulty in presenting cultural projects – and methods to compensate its lack of visual appeal – underline the prevailing issues of representing the diverse choices of a contemporary curator, in a museum exhibition. As a contemporary exhibition visitor, I am expected to immerse myself beyond what is on show, to have a deeper understanding of the curatorial theme. Are such participatory engagements with the public mutually beneficial encounters? I would not be surprised, if I find out again, that I have been looking the wrong way.

Installation snapshot of card game POLITIKO, created by Centre for Artful & Useful Recreation (CENTAUR)

16 September 2017

16/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Looks like erected nipples. Constructs by Elias Yamani Ismail are always beguiling, and this grid of 81 (wooden? plastic?) squares, each with a protruding tip at the centre, is no different. The tension is palpable – is the flat surface transforming before my eyes? Does each dot/button trigger a reaction? This picture-sculpture is more erotic than the voluptuous lady, printed by Long Thien Shih, that hangs on the opposite wall. The gap between squares are wide enough to suggest individual drawers, like those in a traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy. What lies within? Are these concealed stupas on a Sudoku grid? Seen from the front, the reflected spotlights assume gleaming triangular shapes, adding a silver thorny pattern to the confounding image. Looking at this visually ambiguous artwork, I feel hopeful about how some affinities just cannot be explained - like being a Malaysian.

Elias Yamani Ismail – Regangan No. 2 (2010)

13 September 2017

15/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Notwithstanding a red egg and other constructs viewable from Jalan Tun Razak, ‘Pemain Rebab No. 1’ by Mad Anuar Ismail might as well also be labelled as “public sculpture”. I see it every time I enter the lobby of the National Art Gallery. And how well it has aged! The stylized representation of a musician is always a welcome sight – culturally relevant, striking aesthetic, invokes other non-visual senses, grand scale, and technically refined. Placed underneath the spotlight again in “Negaraku”, the piece serves as a reminder that re-contextualised art can improve looking, and visitors should give themselves more leeway in creative interpretations, and how a work may look different each time one sees it. 

Mad Anuar Ismail – Pemain Rebab No. 1 (1991)

10 September 2017

Malaysian Art: A New Perspective 2017 @ Richard Koh Fine Art

While this exhibition claims to showcase “unconventional approaches demonstrated across various mediums”, it is more interesting to note the diverse backgrounds of the six featured artists. The ascending visitor is greeted with angled perspective lines and small found objects on a painting, its coloured and monochromatic elements combining, to form a contrast between nostalgia and outlook. Dhavinder Singh worked at Galeri PETRONAS, is associated with an Ampang upstairs shop lot gallery, and has shown once or twice at most major commercial galleries in Kuala Lumpur.  His last solo exhibition presented captivating works that memorializes the artist’s former residence, a now-demolished apartment complex. This exhibit continues the style seen at “Recollectus”, although Dhavinder’s acrylic box-and-spices installation works, are more indicative of his oeuvre to-date.

Dhavinder Singh - Great Black Divide (2017)

A standing Jun Ong construct illuminates one section of the gallery, its iron mesh arrangement more interesting than neon lights beaming within. Relatively well-known for his public commissions, the architecture graduate is part of a design studio based at a Bangsar repurposed factory. A UiTM graduate, Faizal Yunus’ large four panels seem more in line with the commercial identity of this Bangsar gallery, where he is employed and showed his first solo exhibition. Vivid colours and abstract forms appeal strongly to Malaysian collectors, and its surface texture created with net and gesso projects an attractive visual effect. Hanging opposite is a horizontal grid of cartoon buildings drawn with colour pencils, art teacher Ho Mei Kei garnering interest recently with her take on art and education. Mei Kei is the youngest among this lot, her work also the lowest-priced.

Faizal Yunus - The Interstices I (2017) [image from rkfineart.com]

One stands bemused in front of Izat Arif’s installation ‘Rahasia Menjadi Artist (Seniman) Yg Meyakink-kan di-Malaysia’. Kitschy marketing materials for a book present a bygone sales approach, adding onto the outmoded traits of a physical book, and implying too the artist as one extinct profession. The book itself – with different collaged covers for each of its 20 editions – contains hilarious observations and miscellaneous jottings, where the artist is depicted literally as a buaya. Izat’s overall presentation expresses a nihilistic yet perspicacious view of his vocation, although the zine-like print quality undermines the irony of his publication. The artist assists Shooshie Sulaiman in her international exhibitions, and is part of the carpentry collective Kedai; He is better known, however, as the other artist whose work was censored in the Bakat Muda Sezaman 2013 finalists’ exhibition.

Installation snapshot of Izat Arif - Rahasia Menjadi Artist (Seniman) Yg Meyakink-kan di-Malaysia (2017)

Earnest and visually striking, Chong Yi Lin’s Good Morning towels are emblazoned with abstract logos. The artist – whose first solo exhibition was held at Lostgens’, and is currently furthering her studies in Taiwan – says in an interview published in the catalogue essay, “(m)y art is a form of restoration of my feelings towards these objects.” Sewing organic forms onto the inherent grid of the rough fabric, marks a cultural object as distinguished memento, as I imagine the work up in flames as part of a funerary rite. Moving from distilled memories and tiresome constructs, to fluorescent prints and imposed stereotypes, to resigned gestures and corporeal reminders, this collection raises a question: is the diversity in its urban population a factor in the diversity seen in Malaysian contemporary art, or is it the other way round?

Chong Yi Lin - Evanescent Series (I-X) (2017) [image from rkfineart.com]