The Kings of Wishful Thinking
Anurendra Jegadeva

Wei-Ling Contemporary is pleased to present The Kings of Wishful Thinking by one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary artists, Anurendra Jegadeva.

The idea for The Kings of Wishful Thinking was realized when a collector friend of the artist, who is also an avid collector of banknotes showed him a rare fifty Ringgit error note where the iconic image of the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Abdul Rahman had been omitted.

In its place was a ghostly white silhouette of the Agung’s bust instead of the grand portrait that has become synonymous with the wealth and prosperity that continues to bless Malaysia since Merdeka!.

The portrait of Malaysia’s first post-independence Paramount Ruler, replacing the Straits Settlement currency icons of George VI or Elizabeth II all those years ago, is also a powerful symbol of our collective Malaysian identity and sense of Nation.

Beautifully rendered in a crosshatch of blue, green, red, emerald and purple denominations, the sensitive portrait of Tuanku Abdul Rahman has always conveyed the compassion and nobility of Malaysian leadership that has ensured the great and intricate Malaysian narrative.

As such, the error banknote – with its absent monarch – struck the artist as an especially poignant reminder of the current social, economic and political challenges faced by Malaysians of all races and walks of life.

Today, against the backdrop of a world gone mad, our Malaysian circumstance of `too-expensive sugar’; new GST tariffs; aviation tragedies; alleged corruption at all levels of government; racial, religious as well as class divides; slowing jobs creation and always – the value of the Ringgit in the face of rising costs of living have left us all – battered and dazed, apathetic and anxious.

With The Kings of Wishful Thinking, the artist has used portraits of everyday Malaysians – the usual actors from his portfolio of works – the Nasi Lemak seller, the young Nationalist, the Hindu priest, the opera singer, the schoolgirl, the man in the turban, the beautiful bride, the security officer – all set against the backdrop of our Ringgit, as if in conversation with Our King.

The result – these new portraits – are intended with reverence and respect to capture the sitters interacting with the Monarch – conveying the questions and worries that we all hold in our hearts to that Most High Office in the Land.
Finally, the use of the banknote as the backdrop for these portraits is especially meaningful since currency is the most democratizing device in the world.

Whatever the life of a banknote, wherever it has been – and whatever our social, economic, religious or political affiliations may be – Legal Tender is always, always kosher or halal.

No matter whether the banknote has been in the hands of Colombian drug dealers or traders in blood diamonds; in the secret Swiss accounts of old Nazis or deposed African dictators; or in the `dompets’ of Malay vendors or Chinese farmers, we all fold the banknote lovingly in our wallets as if they were photos of our closest and dearest loved ones.

It seems, for now at least, even as we, the ordinary citizen of the world are finding our collective Voice, the mighty banknote remains the most important symbol of our worth.

A Malaysian figurative artist and writer, Anurendra Jegadeva (b.1965) is regarded as one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary artists for his socio-political commentary on both local and current issues, and for continuously forging effective and fresh narrative approaches to contemporary and historical themes through his works.

The artist’s most recent achievements include the acquisition of his installation entitled MA-NA-VA-REH – Love, Loss and Pre-Nuptials in the Age of the Great Debate by the Singapore Art Museum for their permanent collection, which was thereafter, exhibited in the iconic After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art exhibition to commemorate SG50 in 2015. His Yesterday in a Padded Room…. installation featured at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 followed by a later feature in the Asian Art Biennial 2015 at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts from September to December 2015.

The Kings of Wishful Thinking will feature at Wei-Ling Contemporary from the 8th of January 2016 and will continue until the 31st of March 2016.
Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at RT01 Sixth Floor, The Gardens Mall, 59200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm.
Please call 0322828323/ 0322601106 or email for more information.