Sunday February 10, 2013
By ANDREW SIA
From politicians behaving as ‘bradhers’ to urban alienation and dreary housework, 19 local artists showcase their diverse and stirring ideas.
IMAGINE ... No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man. / Imagine all the people / Sharing all the world....
And then see ... politicians from opposing parties engaging in a group hug – well, anything is possible in art!
These are the subjects of two paintings at the exhibition entitled Locals Only 2013 at Gallerie Taksu, Kuala Lumpur. As the name implies, only Malaysian artists, some 19 of them here, are featured in the gallery’s popular annual show that presents a scrumptious slice of local artistic ideas.
Imagine by Arikwibowo Amril, casts a shimmering effect as it dreamily splices the famous lyrics by John Lennon over a portrait of the late singer. Its ideals are in ironic contrast to The After Party, which features local politicians as a satirical group of chummy “bradhers” after the next general elections.
For the latter’s painter, Ed Roger Rosili, it’s about a transition from his teenage years when girls would have posters of their favourite boy bands.
“Then, after school years, we got into jobs, which involved paychecks, paying taxes, household finances, petrol prices, and all of a sudden, politics became our new favourite topic.... It became apparent to us that the media circles around these politicians like celebrities,” he says.
On a more domestic level, Seah Zelin depicts the drudgery of endless housework as choking billows of smoke and gluey, gummy pools of grease in her painting Figure In Kitchen.
“My painting misappropriates Ikea publicity pictures,” says the artist. “It depicts minimalist interior scenes in floods and erosion. This is to reflect the consumption patterns of globalisation with which the Malaysian identity has been increasingly blurred.”
Yet the painting does not quite jive with her stated intent, for the globalised Malaysian would surely be encircled by office toil and traffic snarls rather than kitchen duties – so as to be able to afford a showcase Ikea kitchen!
A more accurate depiction of modern dystopia is found in Hafidz Shabri’s Comfort Zone, with its phalanxes of water meters feeling like hurdles while hordes of airconditioning units festooned upon typical Malaysian shophouses billow heat outwards (adding to the “urban heat island” effect) while inhabitants are cocooned in their self-contained (and perhaps self-centred) units of comfort.
Hafidz says he is concerned about the effects of urban modernisation on the traditional Malay community, of buzzing towns sprouting up in formerly idyllic provincial areas, a disquiet that is also reflected in his other work, Just Passing Through, which chooses a detached, alienated, aerial view to portray a monorail slicing through communities.
Khairul Izham’s My Wonderland 1 captures the fantasy of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland character, overlaid on a series of drawings as disjointed as Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book and the 2010 movie.
Yeoh Choo Kuan has a series of provocative female figurative works, including Raw 1 & 2, which suggests the private parts, as well as The Rite Of Spring, with its hints of frenzied liberation.
“I’m trying to paint something hidden under my direct feelings towards the female figure,” he says. “I have been painting females since my mother passed away with cancer when I was 12 years old. When I look back at all those portraits it’s as if I can track back how I have changed all these years. I wouldn’t realise it until all of my paintings are in front of me.”
Finally, a mention of Hisyamuddin Abdullah’s One, The Red Handed.
“These artworks record my immediate response to my surroundings, specifically the fiercely discussed political issues of today,” says the artist.
With its single index finger dipped in red, perhaps he is referring to the use of indelible ink in the upcoming general elections?
All in all, this group exhibition is a stimulating smorgasbord of delicacies prepared by up and coming local artists and well worth a look.
Locals Only 2013 will be shown till Feb 21 at Gallerie Taksu (No. 17, Jalan Pawang, in the Datuk Keramat area of Kuala Lumpur). For more information, call 03-4251 4396 or go to taksu.com.