12 Jan - 9 Feb 2013
20 BEST AND UPCOMING CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ARTISTS KICK STARTS 2013 AT G13
G13 Gallery, the latest contemporary art platform in Kuala Lumpur is please to start off the year 2013 with an exciting group exhibition entitled ‘20@G13’. Featuring paintings, sculptures and other innovative forms of expression by 20 of today’s best upcoming contemporary and mid career visual artists, ‘20@13’ is a rich showcase of eclectic works that celebrates the current and innovative approaches as spearheaded by these bold artists while offering a glimpse of what this new and exciting gallery has lined up for the rest of the year. G13 is proud to announce the following contemporary visual artists as participants in this exhibition namely Roslisham Ismail(Ise),Suklu,Jeganathan, Aely Manaf, Sun Kang Jye, Cheev, Faizal Suhif, Haslin Ismail, Agustian Supriatna, Donald Abraham,Wayan Suja,Seah Ze Lin,Liu Cheng Hua, Sharil Nizam Ahmad, EH Chee,Suhaimi Fadzir, Gan Chin Lee, Ilham Fadli(Kojak), Azad Daniel Harris & Yeo Kean Thai.
A painter who specializes in presenting the female nude in various moods, dispositions and in her most at ease from a male’s gaze, Aely Manaf’s participating piece for this exhibition displays none of the stereotypically domesticated female eroticism of previous works. Instead, his portrait of a woman’s countenance, a soft and compassionate stare disclosures forlornness and fragility. However, like all symbols of hope, there is strength of character underneath that underestimated exterior of softness and vulnerability. Good examples are the young women fighting for their basic rights in oppressive patriarchal societies or countries. Exposed to threats and dangers, they press on bravely without weapons or shields, for they know it is not their own plight that they are fighting to overcome but those of coming generations as well. It is the courage of ordinary people, especially the oppressed, marginalized and underrepresented in society that makes the most difference.
Self taught painter, sculptor and free spirit individualist, Agustian Supriatna’s works mirrors his temperament and way of life, reaffirming the eccentric outlook he has chosen to live by. It is also a form of creative catharsis that leads to self renewal and discovery. A spirited display of his unflinching trust in the resourcefulness of the creative impulse, his scrawls, scratches and strokes with paint though unrefined, somehow adds to its charm and made more interesting due to his tasteful combination of colors and tones. It is undeniably inspiring, seeing Agustian’s ability to tap into the art spirit with such lackadaisical ease.
These are intuitive outbursts of paints that disintegrate the known and representational, revealing the artist’s own energies present within and without, with the ability to soothe even the most disquieted spirits.
AZAD DANIEL HARIS
The mass produced, indistinguishable from one another except by its bar code, is cleverly exposed in a playful manner by Azad. His use of repetition, an image of a toy soldier with his rifle and bayonet in a forward thrusting motion each in various colours back grounded by polka dot patterns, disguises the malicious that insidiously makes its way into our psyche via a child’s plaything. But his is neither an overt moral condemnation nor a critical assessment of the situation, rather Azad through his juxtaposition of patterns augmented by the sheen of the materials that constructs it clearly conflicts with the vectorize images of figures trained to dispense death and destruction sanctioned by the state. The work is exquisitely designed to heighten the absurdity of the ways of behaving we were prescribed and taught to emulate unquestioningly during our formative years through the most innocent looking of pastime objects, a toy soldier.
Nonconformist self-taught sculptor, Cheev finds much inspiration and pleasure expressing his thoughts and feelings through the seductive form of the female nude. She is always presented dynamically in contorted and swirling motions. Made from pieces of discarded wood which are lovingly carved and stuck together by special glue, the female form is to him, the perfect embodiment of refinement, mystery and danger even! Cheev’s organic presentation of her amplifies her primordial qualities perfectly while keeping her sensual aspects intact further giving her an air of mystery which, instead of inviting questions from her viewers, it offers enchantment.
“Life is surreal. Both beautiful and painful at the same time…the polarities of existence at work. It all boils down to experiences gained….what else is there in existence but the plethora of feelings involved caused by the infinite actions and reactions that humanity embark on. I have made a philosophical conclusion that the female counterpart plays the primary stimulus and dictates the majority of my actions, inactions and reactions…thus a raison d’etre for living. The female is intriguing and puzzling and best left to her own devices because it will be futile and exhaustingly suicidal to analyse, contain or categorize her” – Cheev
There are certain morbid qualities to EH Chee’s abstract works which however upon repeated viewing, becomes strangely attractive. His earlier portraits and figures are in actuality, psychological profiles of peoples, especially the hypocritical and abusive in positions of power. It is reminiscent of the ‘Sick Politician’ by Ibrahim Hussein, though Chee pushes it further by producing series of paintings based on the abovementioned subject matter and extends it to depict ordinary people in ordinary situations as well. Chee’s similar approach to landscapes and sceneries however adds to it a nervous energy, a heighten anxiety that is both turbulent and exhilarating. Unlike Wong Pern Fey’s earlier paintings which hint at hidden menaces behind fields of tall grasses, EH Chee’s landscape rumbles with a force which could no longer be contained. This rupture, which is a projection of the psychological through the subject of landscapes and sceneries, personifies the human spirit in rapture at its emancipation.
GAN CHIN LEE
With a keen eye in capturing the unassuming at its most deceptively ordinary, the everyday realities of contemporary society, its trifling concerns and superfluous preoccupations are thus elevated to the level of the extra-ordinary. This contemporary realism of Gan Chin Lee is without the judgmental and patronizingly moralistic tone of social realism in highlighting and romanticizing the plight of the working class. Nor does it show the heroic posturing of socialist realism, trumpeting the merits and rightness of ideology (or nationalism) while parading instruments for subjugation. What it does show however is that the everyday as well as the personal are imbued with its own meaning and rational implications which need not be associated with or validated by the popular, maudlin or the political as many are wont to do. His painting of a standing woman with flowers, tacky draperies as backdrop are all calculated to further underscore the ordinariness of the situation, challenging its viewers to focus on the representational aspects as it is without presumptions.
Resourceful and complex, Haslin Ismail’s painting-collage-illustrations and 3D works are hard to categorize as he observes no formalistic or theoretical boundaries. With traces of surrealism and fantastic realism- especially the more outstanding pieces are like a cross between an edgier Lari Pittman and Abdul Mati Klarwein with elements inspired by popular culture (comics and anime) thrown into the mix, Haslin’s outputs, with each undertaking, defies fixed assessment, in positive and enjoyable ways. The subject matter or the topic he presents are as numerous as the origins of his ideas for each of his works are concise amalgamations of impressions, influences and reactions from his readings and observations.
This piece, with its anthromorphic creatures and human figures would not be out of place in a Kafkaesque story or illustration book. Refreshing due to its eclectic form and contemporary attitude, the words ‘unpredictable’ and ‘amazing’ succinctly summarizes each creative undertaking by Haslin Ismail.
Roslisham Ismail@Ise has been breaking the stereotypes about art and artists since his foray into the local visual art scene many years ago. This he does by producing works that are difficult to be evaluated or gauge from the usual formalistic frameworks and expectations. A regular feature in the international art scene, Ise’s approach is conceptual though he explores and addresses the personal, sociological and historical. A multidisciplinary artist, Ise uses installations, new media, photography, design and collage techniques to celebrate or subvert but always in his inimitable and affable way. The element of fun as well as the fluid nature of his approaches however does not soften the challenges or the re-questioning of our received ideological and psychological assumptions of people, places and situations (past and present) posed by his works. They are facades for deeper probing questions or statements. Take for example his two collage works framed as portraits in this exhibition. A portrait is a persona we construct to present to the world. Its reveals less of who we are than how we wish to be seen. Ise’s collage however presents precisely the true nature of our personality; a pastiche of competing wants, needs, fears and desires, in short a walking and talking mess of contradictions and affectations masquerading under an identity, ethnicity, nationality, ideology or belief.
Known for his elegant and creative depictions of universal and spiritual themes, Jeganathan Ramachandram posses a personal style that is unmistakably recognizable, complemented by his intelligent use of metaphors. As the country’s foremost painter of symbolist imagery, the theme of sacrifice, peace and freedom is visible in his latest artistic offering, which shows a Christ-like figure on the cruciform. It is believed that the Creator came to the world embodying a human form to be sacrificed so as to set mankind free from their inherited sin and guide them into the path of love that is beyond any human discipline.
The white dove which symbolizes peace, the Holy Spirit, self sacrifice, maternity etc is shown huddled in the dozens within the abdomen of the figure and is each emerging through his wounds, akin to butterflies emerging from their chrysalis. The theme which can be equate with the adage ’One must die so others may live’ is also about self-renewal or ‘born again’, is well enunciated and delivered by the insightful Jeganathan Ramachandram.
ILHAM FADHLI B MOHD SHAIMY@KOJEK
There is a detectable existential anxiety couched within a darker surrealistic approach, usually set in a near post-apocalyptic fantasy world with vast plains/ wasteland, waiting for some unsettling event to be unleashed on an epic proportion. The appearance of smokes, dark clouds, hurricanes and other malevolent symbols and creatures in some of Ilham Fadhli @Kojek’s paintings, portends the effects caused by the foolish greed and arrogance of humanity in their seeking and cultivation of profit, leading to the irreversible degradation of their surroundings, ultimately resulting in them reaping a putrid harvest of death. Narratives within narratives, Fadhli Ilham’s paintings shows simultaneous unrelated events taking place though all contributes to the main theme of his works. Each character engaged in puzzling actions is somehow tied to one another, with their implications or insinuation. Though his subject matter may not be intended to be uplifting or sentimental, Kojek’s powerful works are both beautiful in their depth as well as its symbolic nuances.
LIU CHENG HUA
Among the handful of young practicing installation artist in the country, Liu Cheng Hua’s works highlights and celebrates the obscure, forgotten aspects of local history and culture. Employing symbols, logos, letters or typefaces and other recognizable icons, Liu is adventurous when it comes to the use of materials. UV lighting, digital and screen prints to fibreglass and what not, however, Liu Cheng Hua’s concerns are with the underlying lessons from the pasts, usually with a tinge of moralistic undertones of his works, which he hopes to impress upon his viewers of the soundness of their purpose. Liu’s participating piece, an innovative pastiche of logos, namely that of FELDA and FAMA, presented in mixed media, overlaps each other to form an attractive composition. The contributions of these two institutions towards uplifting the standard of life for the majority of people in this country cannot be denied; therefore it is presented here as an emblem to symbolize its position of importance.
Suhaimi Fadzil’s innovative re-presentation of found objects, popular images combined with 3D objects serves as a way to address issues, evoke memories or to express his partial worldview. Though not new, his approach is refreshingly different as he is able to highlight aspects of the local through objects with their own distinctive meaning, which is absent from other artists who might be engaged in the use of assemblages, found objects or combines. A former architect, Suhaimi claims to have found a new approach, combining elements from both architecture and the visual arts with his outputs as the final result, which he termed ‘Archipainting’. Regardless of whether this approach has addressed successfully the formalistic, ideological or aesthetic concerns to begin with, Suhaimi Fadzir’s works will continue to provoke reactions, challenge one’s assumptions and hopefully broaden one’s visual perception.
SEAH ZE LIN
Ze Lin’s recent paintings have been hard to decipher due to the ambiguity of his images. Mostly in muted tones and limited to whites and grey, the figures, usually within a domestic setting, are like jumbled mass of limbs, innards or other body parts, writhing or slithering about without purpose or bearing as though in a state of mutating or becoming. The smog-like shapes which permeates its surrounding in a dense though fluid and dynamic manner serves to even further fog the situation. Nevertheless, the aesthetic dimension is uncompromised; in fact, its bizarre nature is its merit. These unique organic shapes or figures are stylized and formed through his experimental method of painting, erasing parts and re-painting over in stages until what appears conforms to that as desired by his mind’s eye with fascinating results. This piece, which is reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s paintings of stylized (mutilated?) figures in bed or at rest, is however unlike the said painter’s erotically charged, bordering on the masochistic…or is it?
SHAHRIL NIZAM AHMAD
Painter, illustrator, and poet, the multitalented Shahril Nizam’s painting of two of his well-known activist friends, one holding an apple, the other a knife is subtle though powerful in its symbolic meaning and implication. The apple, signifying ‘forbidden fruit’ from the “tree of knowledge” in the Judeo-Christian religion, was not only blamed for Adam and Eve becoming ‘conscious’ of their nakedness after consuming it (some claimed too that it represented the beginning of mankind’s ‘sinful’ nature), their actions after it was expressly forbidden by God himself also led to their banishment from Paradise as punishment for their disobedience. The serpent, which is sometime depicted as a female with a lower body of a reptilian by some artisan, tempted Eve to offer the fruit to Adam. Due to Eve’s unwitting role in this gift or curse of consciousness of right and wrong, good and evil etc, women kind was for centuries seen or presented as the root cause of mankind’s downfall. She was blamed and persecuted for countless sorts of transgressions and abominations. The knife on the other hand however, according to Shahril symbolizes the instrument of liberation that serves as a “tool of empowerment, as in, the severance of indoctrinated guilt and blame”. The title of this witty painting can be read as instigation to disobedience in the intellectual and sensual sense as well as a call to rejoice in the release and the freedom to be.
Akin to black and white film negatives or stills of the female form overlapping each other and presented simultaneously on canvas or paper, Suklu’s drawings are not sombre studies, but a stylized depictions of the female nude in various pensive poses. Though her dynamic shapes and seductive elegant gestures as portrayed by the artist amplifies the erotic aspects of the works, the layering and overlapping of the bodies also creates a feeling of ambiguity as to the content and subject matter. Is it the artist’s own projections of hidden desires and longings, an idealization of the female nude in all its glory or an artistic act to untangle the layers of time and space to show the actions or movements of life is but a result of infinite chance combinations of dissimilar intentions and reactions to situations? Whatever the artist’s intent may be, the nudes in their graceful overlapping poses and movements offers a different view from the common perception that one might have of the human body.
A romanticised portrayal of an exotic ‘other’ akin to an Orientalist’s gaze or creeping artificiality due to the effects of over commercialization of tradition and culture, these are some of the possible ways of reading Wayan Suja’s skilfully produced painting. His close up three quarter view portrait of a traditional Balinese dancer partially covered by multi coloured plastic sheets though pleasing to the eye, is also thought-provoking. Our perceptions of the Balinese dancer-or other Indonesian culture and its practitioners- as personifications of grace, high civilization and enigmatic beauty recognized the world over have now become suspect due to the imaginative and delicate treatment by the artist. He provokes by creating discomfort in our received assumptions which may have been shaped by racial or cultural biases with which we project our values and prejudice onto others that bears no resemblance to the actuality. The plastic sheet with its assortment of translucent colours, as cheap and disposable material, are effective as it intensifies the feeling of fakery surrounding the subject matter. However, if one prefers a positive interpretation, the image of the dancer can be viewed rather as the power and essence of tradition and culture slowly emerging from being asphyxiated by globalization’s relentless economic onslaught and cultural commoditization.
Impenetrably dense grasses or foliages swaying gently blown by the wind with bits of flora, ultra light seeds designed to take off with the breeze being visible in the foreground, Faizal Suhif’s canvas evokes much of the oriental ink paintings with their odes to nature, love and life. From the effects of the brush strokes, choice of earthly colors and flat composition, there is something forlorn and even philosophical about it. However, the sharp rupture introduced into the painting, created by separating the lower half of the canvas into two odd size pieces, thus resulting in a jarring disequilibrium to an otherwise serene representation of nature taking its due course. Does this punctuation symbolizes the alienation of oneself from one’s surrounding, the growing distance between self and one’s place of origin or object of affection, characterized by the seeds being uprooted and carried about into the great wilderness like ‘dust in the wind’ or a metaphysical observation about change, summarized by Heraclitus’s wise saying “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”?
It is undeniable that Donald’s art influences can be traced to the low brow art ‘movement’ of the United States. His cartoon-like images stylishly presented very much in the comics, pop and urban art genre is instantly recognizable though the self-taught painter and tattoo artist is careful to inject signs and symbols reflecting his daily life and interests. Relying on his fertile imagination and impressions from people and places, he creates a world crowded with ultra cute, weird and even frightening anthromorphic characters engaged in puzzling acts in situations, sometimes punctuated by peering faces or other beings that pops out of nowhere unexpectedly. Equally wonderful are some inventively odd contraptions and appliances with illogical function producing equally illogical outcomes are also presented. This pastiche of sketches, drawings and small paintings are a collection Donald’s various thoughts, moods and states of mind, reacting to situations and moments delivered in his inimitable style that is at the same time universal and personal.
SUN KANG JYE
One of the handfuls of contemporary sculptors specializing in wood as material, his carvings of large realistic human heads, sometimes in combination with other body parts presents a gripping surreal image that has never been seen before in the local art scene. The sculptures are also sometimes mounted on platforms and other innovative supporting structures which enhance the subject matter. Instantly recognizable, laboriously shaped and polished, the faces of his sculptures betray little emotions, though the eyes do hint at a state of bewilderment or forlornness. This piece, with two heads like Siamese twins conjoined at the bottom of their necks and looking at opposite directions, gives the impression of a split or dual personality in confusion. The back of their heads are exposed and reveals an opening that is painted with red and white, with its obscure meanings, though in past exhibitions, Kang Jye had mentioned much of his works alludes to his religious outlook and beliefs. Whatever the motives it, Kang Jye’s sculptures will continue to attract attention and provoke thoughts.
YEOH KEAN THAI
Well known for his detailed paintings of corroded metals and other oxidized objects in dynamic compositions and close ups as representation of time, change and decay, Yeoh Kean Thai’s latest series of paintings focuses on the Arowana fish, a symbol of prosperity to the Chinese business community. Instead of the typical depiction akin to other stereotypical images of fishes namely gold fishes or Japanese Kois by so many artists specializing in this genre, Kean Thai’s is given a interpretation or rather a prickly twist instead. His paintings of the fishes, sometimes in pairs other times alone, graceful in movement and regal like in appearance, spots instead an amour of thorns or spikes, which under Kean Thai’s skilful hands, is a natural part of it physiology. The reason for this unconventional presentation of the Arowana is, according to Kean Thai “the composition allows setting that come into different angles of interactive relationships which create a unique tensions as well as lively dimensional play between inner and outer space. It remained the sense of dynamic space in the energy with which is able to create subconscious. Such transformation capture the strange realities of a moment where develop structure generates bustling energy that provides continual inspiration”.
By Seihon Tan
Click to view Artist Profile
- Roslisham Ismail(Ise)
- Aely Manaf
- Sun Kang Jye
- Agustian Supriatna
- Donald Abraham
- Wayan Suja
- Seah Ze Lin
- Liu Cheng Hua
- Sharil Nizam Ahmad
- EH Chee
- Suhaimi Fadzir
- Gan Chin Lee
- Ilham Fadli(Kojak)
- Azad Daniel Harris
- Yeo Kean Thai