THE SOIL ON WHICH I BLEED
Wei-Ling Contemporary is pleased to present Ivan Lam’s ‘THE SOIL ON WHICH I BLEED’, an exhibition pertinent to these unprecedented times.
In this exhibition, the artist presents three main oeuvres through which he collapses the boundaries between two contexts – his country and himself – raising fundamental questions that encourage us to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of a nation. Throughout the global pandemic, we have inevitably witnessed the fall of our healthcare systems, economy and government, yet as citizens, we are often placed at the periphery, acting merely as observers. The exhibition title – ‘THE SOIL ON WHICH I BLEED’ – is an English translation of the line ‘Tanah tumpahnya darahku’ extracted from Malaysia’s national anthem ‘Negaraku’. Although we have been burdened by the idea that nothing seems to fall under our control, through his paintings, Ivan Lam attempts to switch the mindset around. He engages critically, by embedding his commentaries in response to the national and global issues that have surrounded us during the pandemic, through the use of symbolism and metaphors in his paintings: from stones that represent the 13 states of Malaysia, a rifle that reminds the artist of the lockdown, to the moon as a symbol of unity. His works put us as individuals at the centre of it all, emphasizing the moral and collective power that we hold, to spark a difference.
As a master of dualities and dichotomies, both tension and harmony are equally embedded into his paintings, as seen through the subject matter and compositions adopted. This series also marks a significant growth in the artist’s practice, as he pushes the limits of painting beyond hyper-realism, into a more conceptualised form. Here, ‘conceptuality’ is informed by the fact that each image is an assemblage of different parts and pieces; almost like jigsaw puzzles that viewers are invited to play with. These parts come together to reveal encrypted messages and meanings encapsulated within them. The works are placed with a certain distance between one another, referring to the concept of minding the gap that we have learned to apply to our lives today.
Each painting is finished with his signature resin coat, and is displayed side by side to a composition of words on the wall, serving as signifiers of what the images in the painting suggest. In his attempt to break the myth of conceptual art being perplexing in the eyes of its audience, the artist provides these words as clues for viewers to grasp his stream of thought. Each painting is accompanied with a smaller-format artwork, a laser-jet print which the artist used as a reference when painting. These prints appear incomplete and disjointed, creating voids that represent the absence of certain aspects in our lives, caused by the pandemic. Altogether, ‘THE SOIL ON WHICH I BLEED’ is a culmination of the artist’s sentiments during the pandemic, and yearnings for a better day.
About Ivan Lam
Ivan Lam (b. 1975) has earned a reputation as one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary artists for his continuous ability to push the boundaries of his art practice. Unafraid to take risks and never content to lean on the familiar, he is constantly posing himself new challenges through experimentation with techniques and mediums, taking his art practice to the next level. In so doing he has evolved into an artist of critical acclaim who is answerable only to himself, consistently striving towards conceiving and actualizing new concepts and ideas.
Ivan Lam has been recognized for his achievements and has been collected by reputed institutions in Malaysia, Europe and the USA. He was one of four Malaysian artists to represent Malaysia at the country’s first ever National Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2019. The work presented, One Inch (2019) explores dualities and dichotomies which sit both harmoniously and in tension in Lam’s work, beguiling the viewer to discover the multiple meanings within.
‘THE SOIL ON WHICH I BLEED’ by Ivan Lam is featured at Wei-Ling Contemporary from 23 March – 25 April 2021.
Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at RT01, Sixth Floor, The Gardens Mall, 59200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11am-7pm.
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