The Edge, 15 February 2010
Cultural Index: A Striking Display
by Elaine Lau

The Tiger Show serves up a plateful of delicious interpretations
No, it has nothing to do with salacious girly shows in Thailand or a certain embattled and disgraced golfer. The Tiger Show group art exhibition at Wei-Ling Gallery is a literal exploration of the handsome beast himself in conjunction with the Chinese Year of the Tiger this 2010.

Yusof Ghani - Eye of the Tiger I (2009) | Oil on canvas; 122cm x 183cm

In this exhibition, 12 artists — Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Umibaizurah Mahir, Zulkifli Yusoff, Anurendra Jegadeva, Chin Kong Yee, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Justin Lim, Marvin Chan, Phuan Thai Meng, Yusof Ghani and Jeganathan Ramachandram — expound on what this creature means to each one of them, expressing on canvas and other mediums their creative impulses derived directly and indirectly from the striking beast. Collectively, the artworks offer a multifaceted visual and conceptual interpretation of the tiger, presenting a showcase that excites and intrigues the mind and titillates the eyes.

Ahmad Shukri Mohamed - Good Morning Raja Hutan (2009/2010) | Mixed media on canvas; 183cm x 244cm

Yusof’s abstract and ephemeral depictions of the tiger are “aesthetic reactions” to the animal, says the artist. “The forms and postures make it appear ferocious and proud at the same time. I am captivated by this strong animal’s colour, pattern, internal energy, the form of its limbs and the shape of its silhouette.”

Two artists, Jeganathan and Anurendra, use the human form in their artworks, but in significantly different ways. The spirit of the tiger is what is encapsulated in Jeganathan’s metaphorical human whereas Anurendra’s portraits are poignant studies of figures of the Tamil Tigers.

Marvin Chan - Maya II (2009) | Oil on canvas; 122cm x 152.5cm

The endangerment of the tiger fuels the works of both Umibaizurah and Ahmad Shukri. Umibaizurah’s body parts of tigers, done in ceramic, give a sobering and morbid picture of the plight of these regal beasts. Ahmad’s artwork of overlapping tiger images speaks of the displacement of the tiger, caused by the destruction of its habitat to make way for development.

Jalaini Abu Hassan - The Great Fall (2009) | Oil and charcoal on canvas; 122cm x 122cm

A contemporary take on the theme is Lim’s portraits of plastic tiger toys as symbols of power and authority. Chin’s painting of multiple snapshots of the tiger is the artist’s attempt at capturing “motion on canvas”, specifically that of a caged tiger. He shares, “What inspired me to paint this particular scene was to capture the bravery of the tiger, because although he is locked up in a cage, he is not about to give up what he is. He may have lost his freedom but he never loses his mind.”

Chan looks at the notion of duality in his endearing tiger character faces, which look like they come straight out of the musical Cats.

Chin Kong Yee - Tiger 2010 (2010) | Oil on canvas; 100cm x 300cm

“The people depicted are children I met by chance.
They approach with an unmistakable openness and sincerity, that forward glance that can sometimes be regarded as rude or a slight tilt of the head that hints at a question. They appear to be oblivious to the possibility of danger; they are fearless.”

The essence and symbol of the tiger explored and expounded on in each artist’s distinctive style, The Tiger Show is a fitting tribute to the big cat.

The Tiger Show is on display until March 17 at Wei-Ling Gallery, 8 Jalan Scott, Brickfields, KL. Opening hours are noon to 7pm (Mon to Fri) and 10am to 5pm (Sat). Admission is free. Call (03) 2260 1106/07 for more information.

This article appeared in Options, the lifestyle pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 793, Feb 15-21, 2010