SCREAM INSIDE YOUR HEART- New Paintings from Solitary Confinement

Wei-Ling Gallery is pleased to present Anurendra Jegadeva’s solo exhibition, ‘SCREAM INSIDE YOUR HEART- New Paintings from Solitary Confinement’ a series of paintings that revolves around the current worldwide pandemic and how we deal with it, both on a social and personal level. World affairs have always been the recurring themes behind Anurendra’s works. Watching the news during the lockdown, the artist stumbled upon a reportage on an amusement park in Japan that recently reopened to the public. It featured two park executives in their face masks, on a rollercoaster ride. Throughout the whole ride, they remained static and silent without screaming at all. At the end of the clip, one of them removed his mask and whispered, “Scream inside your heart.” The artist felt that there is no better way to describe how we have been feeling every day during the pandemic, as we turn inwards, trying to adjust ourselves to the changes of the world, and the challenges that come with them. All the works presented in this show have an element of “screaming inside”. A state of in-betweenness; to stay quiet or to voice out, to lockdown or not to lockdown, to pause or to carry on. These are the current dilemmas faced by every individual — an underlying feeling that haunts, as months go by living with the pandemic.

Although the making of this series began before the pandemic, the lockdown gave the artist a purpose. A strong reason to continue painting, and a push towards a clearer direction. As the artist puts it, “In many ways, our world has been heading in this direction for the last few years with the climate change, the resurgence of the strongman dictator, the failure of globalism and multiculturalism, the threat to democracy, the internet and its subsequent consolidation of tribes, the rich and poor divide, and natural disasters.” After all, the world has always been in a constant flux, yet the pandemic seems to have capped them all. References to political issues and figures, capturing both international and local contexts, are constantly present in Anurendra’s work, as part of trying to understand the world we live in.

Anurendra’s paintings show a personal point of view of a citizen. Mamak Kool stands out as the only autoportrait of the artist himself, seen with his purple finger after voting. He wanted to capture this moment which was significant to Malaysian history; what he labels as the country’s “love affair” with Mahathir. The title itself, playing with the words “cool” and “mamak”, refers to the cliches of race in Malaysia, and how often we are in conflict with each other. As usual, there is a thin line between humour and irreverence in his work. On the other hand, the portrait of Ismail Hashim the photographer takes him away from the complexity of the nation, and closer to the simpler things in life. Sitting in isolation during the lockdown, he ponders on the personal and meaningful relationships that have shaped his life… in this case, friendship. As a keepsake, he simply wanted to remember him through a portrait done on a rejected print that Ismail had given him.

The mask as a symbol for isolation and separation is used repeatedly in this series, serving as a direct reference to the toll of the Coronavirus. In Australia where the artist currently lives, there has been a massive increase of verbal and physical attacks on Asians, and he wanted to explore that aspect of contemporary life and difference through these works. From the Balinese mask in Letter to my grandmother to the Garuda mask in Same Old Story, the artist includes “still life” objects that are part of his home. There is a familiar feeling projected through the works IN-OUT, The Trials and Tribulations of Wuhan Wendy and Shanghai Sally, Grey Dancers I and II, as well as Orange Dancer, as the artist revisits the same actors who have been featured in his past works. Still in their traditional costumes, this time, these personages are seen in masks. A reference to systems of power and identity and times of reckoning, within the artist’s direct experience as an immigrant in one place and yet, still a citizen in another.

The response to Covid-19 has also been a real testimonial to the failure of leadership all around the globe, except in countries where women lead, which somewhat also points out the failure of a patriarchal government system. Before the pandemic, Anurendra was intrigued by the place of women in contemporary life. He was struck by the disparity between men and women’s freedom and limitation, in most of our workplaces, homes and cultures. This idea was put into images with the mixed media works Separate Together and Same Old Song. The latter, using a cutlery drawer from a Victoria kitchen sideboard, captures the challenges faced by migrants in Australia as each new migratory wave faces the challenges of difference according to their ethnic, economic and religious identities. The pandemic seems to predominantly affect certain groups more than others whether by ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds, but in the end, it is a kind of cliched common humanity which is at stake. ‘SCREAM INSIDE YOUR HEART- New Paintings from Solitary Confinement’ attempts to examine the reality that the virus does not see rich or poor, white or other, Muslim or Christian… Whatever our politics or systems of belief, we can only face the challenges of this brave new world together.

Anurendra Jegadeva (B. 1965) is regarded as one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary artists for his poetic yet provocative socio-political works. A narrative artist and a painter of stories, he believes in the enduring power of the painted image and has worked consistently to forge an effective approach to contemporary and historical themes. Based in both Malaysia and Australia, his works stem from a personal experience of, and response to his subject – be it the post-colonial realities of multi-cultural Malaysia, Asian immigrant life in Australia, or the war in Iraq on his TV screen. Anurendra Jegadeva deftly weaves an autobiographical layer into the complex realities he seeks to capture. Through a diversified body of work, he examines the ironies in contemporary life and probes the issue of cultural integration vis-à-vis the fusion of modern and traditional values. His last solo exhibition ‘On the Way to The Airport – New Keepsakes’ was held in 2017 and coincided with the publication of a monograph documenting his 30-year career. Anurendra was also one of four Malaysian artists to represent Malaysia at the country’s first-ever National Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2019.

‘SCREAM INSIDE YOUR HEART- New Paintings from Solitary Confinement’ is featured at Wei-Ling Gallery from 17th September – 31st October 2020.

Wei-Ling Gallery is located at 8 Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Admission hours are Tuesday – Saturday, from 10am-5pm.

Exhibition is open by appointment only. For appointments and further assistance, please contact +60322601106  or email: weilinggallery.amanda@gmail.com for appointment.