Day Zero Night Hero
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 in a bid to take his artworks to the next level. In so doing he has managed to reach greater and greater heights and each of his iconic artworks reflect a rare purity and honesty which are reflective in the works of artists who are answerable only to themselves.

Over the last 15 years he has charted new territory on the contemporary Malaysian art scene with his mastery of printmaking and now his conquering of contemporary painting. He has exhibited widely in the local and international arena and has also garnered multiple awards in a career laden with solo and group exhibitions.

Ivan Lam is an innovator, a fearless explorer and an obsessive perfectionist-all qualities of a great artist in the making.

The After All These Years… series saw Ivan Lam creating a suite of only 12 paintings over a course of 3 years(2005-2007) and in giving himself the task of discovering a new approach through the use of synthetic house paints he was able to open up a whole range of possibilities in his art practice. These highly-acclaimed paintings laid the groundwork of what was to come and allowed Ivan Lam to display his fearless approach in tackling unfamiliar territory.

Panorama, created between 2007-2009 were a series of 9 paintings which saw Ivan Lam more confident with his new medium and giving in fully to the painting process. The works which dealt with everyday scenes allowed the viewer to be the protagonist of the panorama that was unfolding before their eyes .Each and every piece was undeniably fresh and
powerfully heartfelt and the Panorama series saw Ivan Lam at the peak of his contemporary relevance.

Ivan Lam’s, Together Alone 2009-2011, featured only 5 paintings which reached a new realm in his art practice with his utilization of scale and monumentality (each work was a diptych which measured 2.5metres x 4.5metres) as well as his experimentation of a myriad of new mediums and techniques including industrial resin. In his own inimitable way, he was able to beat the odds and triumphantly take his journey to the next level with this series.

Machines 2012 was an exhibition which featured 3 paintings of machines that represent the 3 races in Malaysia, Chinese, Indian and Malay, and 1 diamond. This series also explored the artist’s look at the constant struggle between Man and Machine, and the roles that each of them play in the world today.

This trilogy of works by Ivan Lam were executed over the course of the last year and half.
The first two pieces, Day–I have hated you too much to be grateful of the Day, and Night-I have loved you too much to be fearful of the Night, were completed and exhibited for the first time at Art Basel Hong Kong in May 2013.The final piece, Hero/Zero, which completes this trilogy of works, was completed in November 2013.

These three works are a marked shift from the earlier series of paintings-Together Alone (2011) and Machines (2012), as although the resin medium is still employed, its application demonstrates the artist’s confidence in the material. In the past, the resin had been poured over the works, layer upon layer, coating it with a glossy sheen which accentuated the meticulous brushstrokes beneath it. For this series, the resin has taken on a new purpose. Instead of merely being used as a final coating for the works, the resin has become a tool for the artist to reveal his mastery and painstaking application of paint in his works. Working layer upon layer, he has ingeniously interspersed brushstrokes with resin, allowing for the resin to set before using it as his ‘canvas’ to apply each new layer of paint. The final result allows for us to view his thorough and meditative approach to his works, and the innovative technique he has discovered through his research and experimentation with his material. The resin has also been used to encase and enshrine the battleships which move silently, at their own pace, through each of the works stirring up a party of bubbles in their wake as they make their way steadfastly towards battle.

The works
Each piece is a diptych.
The painting on top is separated from the one on the bottom by a battleship which ‘floats’ enshrined forever in resin.
Both works are a reflection on the artist’s personal life yet are also issues and concerns that are universal to all of us in our quest to understand the meaning of life.

The Day painting depicts a butterfly on the top panel-beautiful yet fragile, unattainable when alive, now captured here forever, but alas without life. This echoes his constant push and pull about the duality in life.

The piece on the bottom relates directly to the butterfly, for life is fragile and it is a constant struggle to keep afloat. Life is unpredictable and continuously throws challenges at us. The women are all in life jackets, surrounding and protecting two young children, struggling to keep each other from going under. They will prevail, but at what cost?

The Night painting depicts the unknown and the infinite, for sometimes for fear of heading out into the darkness, we limit ourselves and the possibilities ahead.
Darkness and the black tone of the two works actually belie the positive energy of this work, which actually highlights the fact that despite the unknown , the future is better than the ‘day’ that he knows now.

Hero/Zero painting is the finale in this trilogy of paintings.
It ties the first two paintings together and gives the series its significance, akin to being the answer to the riddle, where this work is the answer to the first two.
There is a serenity about this work- the finale. The yin and yang is still at play yet it exudes some level of resolution and a conclusion of sorts. The clouds on top drift across the work, dancing in and out before our eyes, yet on closer inspection there are little crosses which are carefully interspersed at regular intervals over the surface.
At the bottom the grey depths gather around calmly, stoicly, pulled together by circles which are again placed deliberately in regular intervals across the canvas.
These two pieces speak volumes together, and the battleship which both separates yet ties them together, is the key to the riddle which is this work.

The exhibition will take place at Wei-Ling Contemporary from 14th November-2nd December 2013.
Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at G212&213A Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur 59200,Malaysia.
Please call 0322601106/0322828323 or email for more information.
Wei-Ling Contemporary is open Daily from 10am-9pm. Admission is free.