Mind, Body & Soul
Mind, Body & Soul was conceived when Bayu Utomo Radjikin e-mailed me from London with an idea for a ‘Body’ show. He thought it would be very interesting if we could bring together a group of pre-eminent Malaysian figurative artists to study the different approaches towards how the figure is being used in art now. In addition to holding an exhibition, this exercise would also include a life drawing session at the gallery followed by a dialogue between the artists. The primary aim of this event would be to analyze the forces behind what drives these figurative artists to do what they do best.
In line with what the gallery believes in, I quickly accepted Bayu’s proposal to compile this exhibition as it had been two years since we showed a purely figurative collection of works. In 2003, we held an exhibition entitled “BARE – a look at the nude” which was very well received by both artists and collectors, as we had included artists who were not specifically known for their figurative works. Fundamentally the study of the figure forms the basic foundation of a sound art education, so although many artists continue to exercise their life drawing skills throughout their career, these pieces are normally restricted to the studios or personal collections of the artist, and are rarely seen in public. From sketches to paintings, and photography to contemporary dance this exhibition displays each artist’s individual response to and interpretation of the human body.
The artists consist of a group of contemporary Malaysian artists who have very different approaches towards their pursuit of figurative art. They are (in order of seniority) Jalaini Abu Hassan, Lee Swee Keong, Shia Yih Yiing, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Hamir Soib, Chong Siew Ying, Kow Leong Kiang, Chan Kok Hooi, Azrul Kevin Abdullah, Goh Lee Kwang, and Kok Siew Wai.
Jalaini Abu Hassan
One of Malaysia’s most respected artists, Jalaini Abu Hassan has set the benchmark for young Malaysian artists to follow. Unafraid to venture out of his comfort zone, Jalaini’s works are always unexpected and exciting as he is continuously evolving on his journey as an artist. In his ever-changing and experimental approach towards his art, Jalaini almost always incorporates a figure in his works.
Lee Swee Keong
Contemporary dancer Lee Swee Keong uses his body to gain insight into life. Fusing ancient movement techniques such as tai chi and yoga with Zen Buddhism, Swee Keong’s works are a release of internal energy in a search for the truth.
Shia Yih Yiing
Moving from highly detailed mural-like works to simplified almost minimal paintings, Shia Yih Ying’s art career has developed to another level since receiving a Commonwealth Fellowship grant from the UWS,Nepean NSW Australia in 1999.Yih Ying’s new works explore the complicated relationships within a typical Chinese family. In these two paintings she depicts images of two men who in her eyes are the epitome of purity.
Bayu Utomo Radjikin
Bayu Utomo Radjikin is the founding member of the progressive MataHati group and was instrumental in reintroducing figurative art into the Malaysian art-curriculum in 1991. In Bayu Utomo Radjikin’s pursuit of art, his focus has never strayed far from figurative representation. He believes that in being able to master the human form makes for a genuine artist. This succession of works were executed during Bayu’s stay in London, UK and combine elements of images that he was exposed to during his time there with a series of self-portraits that somewhat mimic the subjects represented.
Hamir Soib’s handling of large canvases sets him apart from his peers, for his ability to maintain faultless perspective when tackling a large work. His strength lies in his amazing painting technique and the underlying yet powerful message he manages to convey through each of his works. A powerful painting, ‘He’s a snake’ is a black on black work that echoes the nature of mankind.
Chong Siew Ying
A graduate of the renowned L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Versailles,France artist Chong Siew Ying divides her time between K.L. and Paris, exhibiting in both countries. She was the recipient of the sought-after Freeman Asian Artist Fellowship Award, where she spent two months as Artist In Residence at The Vermont Studio Center, Vermont, USA in 2001.She has become recognized for her breathtaking yet hauntingly beautiful faces rendered on canvas. Using broad, confident brushstrokes each of her enigmatic works appear effortlessly executed, yet have a depth that goes beyond the last layer.
Kow Leong Kiang
Kow Leong Kiang is well known for his romantic depictions of young Malay girls set against a rural landscape and for his sensuous Balinese nudes. After winning the grand prize at the Phillip Morris Asean Art Awards in 1998, he has gone on to become one of Malaysia’s most sought after figurative artists. In this charcoal & pastel work, his beautiful young lady is caught up in a world of her own, unaware of the viewer looking down upon her.
Chan Kok Hooi
Chan Kok Hooi’s surreal paintings are a disturbing yet fascinating blend of fantasy and horror that incorporate elements of his Chinese culture and up-bringing. Spending up to one year working on each painting, he meticulously executes each section of his painting with painstaking thought and care, such that when his works are broken down into parts, they make up a jigsaw puzzle of up to twenty individual paintings!
Goh Lee Kwang
Goh Lee Kwang is a Malaysian sound artist who has just returned from a year long stint in Germany .In 2002 he was selected by Max Neuhaus (a well-known sound artist from New York) for a grant at the Akademie Schloss Solitude of Stuttgart which entitled him to work and stay in Stuttgart, Germany for 15 months to continue his exploration and development of sound. This resulted in the release of his CD”Internal Pleasures” which was released in Germany in 2004.
Kok Siew Wai
Video artist Kok Siew Wai has just returned from New York, USA with a Masters of Fine Arts in Electronic Integrated Arts from Alfred University. Since 2001,she has exhibited her music and video works extensively throughout the USA.
Azrul Kevin Abdullah
As a photographer, Azrul Kevin Abdullah’s handling of portraits and people are a minimalist yet in-depth look at the personality of his subject. To him, people are fascinating creatures. Rarely static in form or emotion;subjects best remembered for their facial features or expressions. The subjects are a cross section of Malaysian society, some familiar faces, some not so familiar but all having a uniqueness that makes up the fabric of KL.
On another note, we are pleased to introduce soprano Cheong Whye Mun, the co-founder of The Wicked Pitches, an a-cappella group, which has performed to sell-out productions, who will join us to perform some favourite Christmas songs for this show.
This exciting combination of artists have been brought together in ‘Mind, Body & Soul’ and we hope that you will enjoy it as much as we have in putting it together as a collection of works!