The body, soul, and spirit,

the past, present and future,

the trinity which rules in natural things is the central focus of 3, the latest solo exhibition by Malaysian artist Sean Lean.

The exhibition features a series of triptychs, with each series of panels providing a commentary on different issues ranging from the political, social, and religious to the personal and intimate. The triptych — a pictorial convention within the Christian tradition where a central panel is adjoined by two subsidiary but associated ones — is the focal form and mode of presentation, which Lean employs to produce an extended narrative that traverses set boundaries and creates intertextual patterns and points of connection. Beyond adapting and appropriating the triptych form, Lean sought to challenge and disrupt its inherent symmetry (in terms of size, style, and treatment of individual panels), in attempt to create a space of tension and ambiguity, yet still maintain a unifying line of thought, both visually and conceptually, between the three panels in each triptych. Tension is inherently built into the format of the triptych, with each individual panel vying for attention or complementing and illuminating the other, or both. Lean uses this mode of display and storytelling to create an intertextual space where elements are contrasted, playing off one another, and dramatising the visuals in the process. Thus, in each triptych there exists a contrast between two panels, where tension is built, and in the third panel, where tension is relieved. The third panel in each triptych is always comprised of words or heavy text and assumes a particularly important role, either functioning as a bridge to harmonize, amplify, or entirely undermine the line of thought contested in the previous two panels. This juxtaposition could be observed in Self-Portrait, a triptych where Lean explores the relationship between him and his father (a recurrent theme in his past solo exhibitions). The artist contrasts his father’s portrait (painted in shades of whites) with his own self-portrait (painted in shades of dark), with the middle panel composed of collages of the artist’s school reports and certificates providing the missing link and bringing to the foreground the underlying story.

In 3, the technical narrative employed by Lean transcends its technicality and assumes a poetic function. Thus, the technique becomes a vital part of the story, not just the tool to its realization. Whether it is navigating familial relationships, providing a critique of religion, commenting on the present political atmosphere, questioning the institutional concept of marriage, or grappling with art and the question of authenticity, Lean’s latest solo exhibition invites the viewer to wonder with him, and in the gaps separating the panels, find a space to meditate on these questions.

Lean’s upcoming exhibition 3, like the number itself, moves from a beginning, through a middle and towards an ending, creating a small totality.

3 is Lean’s 3rd solo exhibition at Wei-Ling Contemporary, following Motherland in 2015, and Flesh: Blacks and Whites in 2013. In addition to his solo exhibition, Lean has participated in numerous group shows, the latest being Through Rose-Tinted Glasses in 2017.

3 will be showing from 11th July to 5th August 2018 at Wei-Ling Contemporary.

Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at Lot No RT-1, 6th Floor The Gardens Mall, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11am-7pm.

Please call +603 2282 8323/ +603 2260 1106 or email: noel.weilinggallery@gmail.com for more information.