New Straits Times, 16 November 2007
Klang Valley Streets: 18 reasons
by Loke Poh Lin
View the works of 18 artists, well known in the local arts scene, and whose current works is ‘telling’ on them at this stage in their creative career. LOKE POH LIN explains the scenario at the 18@8 exhibition.
THIS year’s 18@8 is the third annual collective show organised by Wei-Ling Gallery (WLG) and after visiting the exhibition, we cite 18 reasons why you should visit.
First, it represents the most happening visual artists in Malaysia today. No need to visit many shows. At this one stop, you can see the works of all these cutting edge fellas, all in one place. Cool, kan?
#2: Because the 18 participants were asked by Lim Wei-Ling, gallery director of WLG, to send in the work which “best represents” them at this time, you can be sure of seeing the latest in the evolution of these creators. In fact, in Zulkifli Yusoff’s case, you’ll be getting a preview from his solo exhibition planned for next year. Talk about living on the edge.
#3: If you are an artist, or an artsy fartsy person, the thrill of seeing different works of art juxtapositioned against each other will give you a buzz. Viewed in isolation or in a solo exhibition, one artist’s work hits you in a concentrated way, a lone voice in the wilderness. Seen as a collective, the whole tone shifts; now you’ll hear many voices congregating in a symphony or a cacophony, depending on your reaction to the pieces.
#4 There are 19 pieces of work, one each from the 18 artists participating, except for Sabri Idrus, who beat the odds somehow and has two pieces on show.
So you’ll get a taste of Amin Gulgee, Anurendra Jegadeva, Bayu Utomo Radikin, Chan Kok Hooi, Chin Kong Yee, Choy Chun Wei, Daud Rahim, Hamidi Hadi, Ivan Lam, Juhari Said, Kim Ng, Multhalib Musa, Wong Chee Meng, Yap Sau Bin, Yau Bee Ling, Yusof Ghani, Zulkifli Yusoff and Sabri, of course.
#5 Anu’s provocative bride in Minding The Gap is arresting. Full of contradictory images, (a glowing pink bride against a background of burning oil fields) it will first stop you in your tracks with its sheer size (187cm x 186cm), its content, and then bug you with its visual impact.
Anu tells us that it is a continuation of his love stories, starting with Astronaut. Inspired by the news and driven by contemporary Malaysian art, Mind the Gap is a huge departure for him in terms of space and scale. Which is fine as other Malaysian artists are pushing boundaries in exactly the same ways.
#6 Zul’s big insect is a large-scale work which grips you by the eyeballs and gives you a metaphorical hard shake. You cannot be ambivalent with this work — it’s supersize, it’s colourful and you’ll either love it or hate it, but you will not be indifferent to it.
Zul has not used oil as his medium for three years. This work marks his return to using oil and his first work for his solo exhibition next year. “It’s an important piece for me; it’s a reflection of myself starting something new. The piece shows his present emotions, jiwa, harapan terkini.”
Sarang Tebuan Jangan Dijolok is part of his Amok series, harking back to the adage “do not disturb the hornets, lest you want to be stung.
#7 Chee Meng’s double vision and Kong Yee’s fisheye vision will teach your eyes to see beyond the obvious. Chee Meng turned his visual impairment (he sees double images and cannot “see” 3-D images) into an advantage for himself. His work, “Stairway to Heaven” is dreamy (some may say nightmarish) despite its soothing colours. Featuring three horsemen inspired by a Durer work, they are a symbol of Chee Meng’s drive and search for a foothold after this return to Kuala Lumpur from a six-month residency in Balik Pulau.
“What I’ve learned is that each audience has its own mind generator; we all come with our own interpretation of a work of art.” He shared. “Lines, shapes, colours are my elements. So this painting is about how I look at myself in a way. Please enjoy my vision.”
#8 Multhalib’s corrugated metal is quite unlike his former work. This new work seems more clean cut, stylised, stark. He chose to enter this piece for 18@8 simply because it is his latest creation. However, he says that “it’s been in my head and it’s only recently that I got around to this kind of work.”
Just back from his trip to Beijing as a pre-Olympic sortie, and his experimentation at a metal factory there, he went straight to fashioning this new work, “The Liaison” – which on the surface, looks terrifically simple. And yet it is not. The two pieces meeting is intentional, their lines of corrugation correspond to each other and as Multhalib tells us, it’s tricky to get the folds to do exactly that.
#9 We can follow Ivan’s altered vision from macro to micro in this new work with a very long title. He admits that it’s easier to do something that is different from what he’s known for because it’s hard to benchmark new work.
This work took him 11/2 months, involved photography (took hours just to set up the shot), used a big camera and big negative and big print so that every detail can be seen – every pore, every hair.
When you see your face in such dimensions, you have to surrender your ego. Ivan asked rhetorically, “how many of us look, really look, at our own faces?”
It was technically very challenging for Ivan. It was a collaboration at the beginning, with Eiffel, the photographer. “It’s also the first time I’ve painted upright. All my previous work was done horizontally. As he says, “A certain energy needs to be expended to paint something which is larger than you.” Visit to get a zap of that energy.
#10 Yusof Ghani’s many faces in “Entourage 1” from the “Wajah” series is an interesting piece simply in that it’s a cough in between his prolific collections for the past few years, “Topeng”, “Gerak” and more recently, “Biring”. Not his usual subjectmatter and not in his usual scale makes this an intriguing work to scrutinise and dissect.
#11 Bayu’s warrior is a graceful work, intricate and multi-layered, literally and metaphorical. It’s one of those paintings that you can stare at for a long, long time and still find something to surprise you.
#12 Amin Gulgee’s “I Believe I Can Fly” and Juhari Said’s “Okir” sculptures are quirky and tactile, yet are miles apart in similarity. Amin’s metalwork is calligraphically disturbing while Juhari’s wood sculptures look deceptively metal-based. Come figure this two out on your own. It’s stimulating.
#13 The nitty gritty worlds of Choy Chun Wei and Yau Bee Ling. From the broad strokes, we come to two works with lots of details. Please don’t rush through these two pieces for fear of losing out on really interesting minutae. Consider them from afar, then go through them with a magnifying glass. Very satisfying.
#14 Sabri’s two mixed media abstracts from his Scape series are strong statements of his current state of mind. His work explores time, space and the environment, collating what he calls “simple moments linked to form a memory”.
#15 Kok Hooi’s rotund icon from MSN Messenger chat is given a sexual edge; an icon with boobs, if you like. Usually seen spinning on the computer monitor, Kok Hooi’s tongue-in-cheek framing it in a vintage photograph with its signature patterned edges further fetish-ises it.
#16 Daud Rahim’s Tenaga Dalam Ruang & Hamidi Hadi’s Element 1 are organic works would call to mind the words, innocent, naive, pure. Quite a delight to the soul and a treat for the eyes.
#17 Kim Ng’s modernity is expressed through shapes, colours. In a final bid to entice you to 18@8, may I just just say that you’ll have to see Yap Sau Bin’s work for yourself?
#18 The unique ambience of the Gallery itself. If you haven’t been, you should take this golden opportunity of catching exhibition and a gratifying new experience. If you have, heck, you should do it again. It’s not every day that you can go back in time momentarily. For free, some more.
18@8 is on till Nov 28, 2007.
Wei-Ling Gallery, 8 Jalan Scott, Brickfields.