Vanity Project X
Ivan Lam

The concept of duality is one that has been prevalent throughout Ivan Lam’s practise. In his last solo exhibition, Cutting The Lines That Bind, which premiered at VOLTA NY, New York in 2016. He explored the generational gap between family members. Starting off introspectively, first by looking at himself and his daughters, and in turn that which existed between him and his parents, and them with theirs. He also looks at the space between his daughters as human beings, although conceived from the same parents, there is a duality in their beings and their very existence.

Ivan continues to carry this forward with Vanity Project X, a series of 9 artworks, the composition of each piece has been split into two parts. A visual duality and dichotomy of the artist’s thoughts. This new body of work represents the artist’s self-revelation, after a rather unsettling period in his life; realising that the only way to go from where he stands, is up. Through this body of work, Ivan Lam begins the process of relinquishing control over the crafting of his works and ridding himself of an ego that was pushing him to “complete” every painting.

The first piece in this series, features a gun painted on the top half of the work. The gun is fully rendered in Ivan Lam’s signature style of layering paint and resin. This work was made immediately after a painting entitled “They Will Kill Us All”, which depicted the elder of the artist’s two daughters pointing her index finger at the back of her sister’s head, in a mock shooting gesture. The painted gun, is the missing pistol from “They Will Kill Us All”. This in turn, connects the two artworks together, and signifies that the artist is back on track. The bottom half of the work is a mapping of all the towns and cities of Malaysia, in pencil lines that radiate out from Kuala Lumpur – the home of the artist. A message to himself, noting that he and all Malaysians are in the same boat, each with their own personal struggles to overcome. The usage of pencil in this work marks the beginning of letting go.

As Ivan Lam progressed further into the series, the lack of the artist’s signature mediums, paint and resin, is apparent. From spray paint and faded coloured pencil lines, symbolising that the artist is finally ready to completely discard the past, to vinyl and cut out circles as he begins to explore unfamiliar mediums and different ways to “create”. Then, with the fifth piece in the series; Ivan Lam delves into his feminine side as he knits numbers together with coloured pencils and in the pattern of a knitting graph. The bottom half of the canvas is coated in honey. It was then left out in the open for several days, attracting insects, thus becoming an intrinsic part of the work. These external “collaborators” were invited to help create this piece, and served as a crucial lesson to Ivan, of the surrendering of ego and learning to share the medium and the canvas.

Following the completion of each piece, the artist engaged in a conversation with Dr. Hanni Geiger, an art historian from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, discussing the direction in which Ivan would take for every subsequent piece. Advancing from this, Ivan then embarked on a commentary of numerous social issues which question the human condition today, each possessing a medium that significantly relates to it. Beauty and what we are willing to do to obtain it. In which case, sequins embodying its allure and latex that mimics our skin. The hubris of man that leads to war; incorporating soy wax, bees wax, soap, and fire powder. Various materials that may seem harmless, but when put together in the right proportions would allow one to make their own bomb.

Once again, Ivan Lam has pushed the boundaries of his practise further than it ever was before and in doing so has also left an important message for us all; to be able to advance is to be able to let go.

Vanity Project X will be showing from 9th May to 12th June 2017 at Wei-Ling Contemporary.

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 +60322828323/ +60322601106 or email: for more information.