WLG Incubator Young Artists Show:
Anas Afandi & Tang Tze Lye

The Young Artists Collaborative Mentorship Program is a unique program that provides the opportunity for emerging artists to be advised and guided by an established artist.  Earlier in 2020, thorough research was conducted to identify the next generation of young progressive artists from Malaysia, whereupon the identified group of artists were invited to submit their portfolios for consideration and selection. The 5 shortlisted candidates were then involved in a two-tier interview process whereupon two artists were finally selected for participation. Over a six-month program, the two artists, Anas Afandi and Tang Tze Lye, worked with Malaysian artist Ivan Lam as their mentor to discuss, research, explore, experiment, and develop new concepts. This platform aims to provide a safe space for these artists to express the challenges they face in their professional and artistic practices, as well as to support them in the aspects that they choose to develop further. The results are presented through the WLG Incubator Young Artists Show at Wei-Ling Contemporary, which serves as a channel to introduce their work of art to a wider audience.

The WLG Incubator is an initiative by Wei-Ling Galleries that was launched as a platform to highlight and collaborate on projects with emerging Malaysian artists. It is dedicated to help artists create a sustainable art practice, which allows them to develop their confidence towards making art that is authentic, experimental and progressive. Through this Incubator, we hope to discover and nurture artists and projects, which are critical towards shaping the voice of the next generation.

Anas Afandi’s Tapak Pembakaran (“waste-burining site”) 2020 examines the feeling of longingness, through a recollection of past experiences, memories, and emotions of one’s family history. At the same time, it also acts as his “ritual of detachment”; a meditative tool to disengage himself from the past, in order to progress. The artist adopts the role of an archaeologist, botanist and naturalist in his approach, as he conducted an excavation of a small area of land near his family home in Taping, Malaysia, that has been used to burn household waste since the 1970s. The site remains as it is, with fragments of the past buried beneath. This work is an in-depth extension of his earlier work Dokumen Seorang Imigran (“Document of an immigrant”) (2018), the artist’s attempt at finding alternative ways to approach art as part of life, instead of looking at it as a separate entity.

The specimens collected from the site, allow both himself and viewers to find clues to different meanings. From mundane objects such as broken vases, rustic nails, metal hinges, lockset, wood planks, and a set of broken pestle and mortar that had been thrown away by his grandmother – to fossils of snails, shells, pieces of remote lizard’s hatched eggs. These artefacts are displayed in the gallery space on a bed of soil, imitating the environment from which they were collected. The logic of the arrangement based on material forms is inspired by the ancient concept of Scala Naturae, of which all matters are categorised following a hierarchal structure. This installation invites viewers to squat and investigate the objects the way the artist did, so as to spark curiosity and imagination amongst viewers. Three sets of drawings accompany this installation, blurring the line between scientific and artistic studies. As the artist explained, this project is an ongoing process to seek the relevance of art in contemporary living, through the examination of history, experience, environment and knowledge.

Tang Tze Lye’s interdisciplinary practice focuses on the body as a vehicle to narrate stories surrounding gender, queer identities, and beauty. The bodies in his paintings represent his personal, perpetual struggle of trying to understand his true identity, expressed through a combination of bright colours, as well as the tonality of blue and chromatic pink, to represent something gendered in nature. Touching the subject of queer, his work challenges our belief of what the body of the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ should be. His bold provocative paintings also shed light on the idea of loving one’s own body, while bringing up the issue of ‘body-shaming’, a form of bullying that exists yet is often disregarded in our society. The figures in his paintings are painted from the point of view and style of queer art, emphasizing intimacy and fantasy, and suggesting the normalisation of taboos surrounding the body and gender.

Next to the paintings is an installation work, in which Tang Tze Lye highlights hair as a symbol of beauty. Suffering from Alopecia encouraged the artist to develop his own natural remedy, and look further into the historical and cultural aspects of hair-care. This potion, along with other objects such as a pair of shoes made out of hair, and a head piece, are also part of the installation. In his research and exploration on queer art, the artist also pushes his own boundaries as a visual artist, as he delves into performance art – writing, costume-designing, and staging his own piece, as a way to initiate a conversation with the audience. The ideas behind his paintings are once again evoked here, through a combination of narration, poetry, and dance. As the artist mentioned, his multiple approach in art-making leans on a quote by Confucius: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”. In order to fully understand something, one must go beyond visualising it; one must also be it.

‘WLG Incubator Young Artists Show’ is featured at Wei-Ling Contemporary from 7th October – 8th November 2020.

Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at RT01, Sixth Floor, The Gardens Mall, 59200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11am-7pm.

Exhibition is open by appointment only. For appointments and further assistance, please contact +60322828323 or email: weilinggallery.amanda@gmail.com.