The News, Pakistan, 18 December 2006
Malaysian art exhibition at Gulgee’s
by Shamim Bano

KARACHI: Lim Wei-Ling, Director Wei-Ling Gallery, brought 18@8 KUL-KHI (Kuala Lumpur-Karachi) exhibition to Amin Gulgee’s gallery in Pakistan which opened on Friday night with admirers of Guljee and Malaysian people present in good numbers.

Also in attendance were elite of the city, the consuls-general of different countries, and star models.

Aptly named 18@8, Kaula Lumpur-Karachi, this exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase contemporary Malaysian art to audiences outside Malaysia.

Explaining 18@8, Lim Wei Ling said she had brought paintings of 18 contemporary Malaysian artists and eight is the number of her gallery. The exhibition transcends geographical borders and Pakistani audience is bound to find the experience mutually rewarding.

This is an exceptional exhibition as it is a first at many levels. For starters Pakistan has never before seen a show of contemporary Malaysian art on this scale. This will be the first time that such a significant show of contemporary Malaysian art has been seen outside Malaysia.

“When we launched our new space, Wei-Ling Gallery, in the year 2005, she said, “we invited 18 artists who best represented the objective of our gallery, to participate in our opening show entitled 18@8, contemporary artists from Malaysia and Beyond. Following that exhibition, we again selected Malaysian artists who demonstrate the direction in which contemporary Malaysian art is now moving”.

She said, we have limited the artists to those born between 1950-1980, as according to her this generation of artists has been able to forge ahead to create a new direction of contemporary art.

Amin Guljee was really excited that his gallery had been given the opportunity to host the exhibition.

He hoped that by mounting an exhibition of Malaysian work in Pakistan, the Amin Guljee Gallery and Wei-Ling Gallery could help encourage a south-south dialogue. Being in a developing country like Pakistan, one is very aware of what is happening in the art scene of developed world, he said, but one is unaware of how artists in other developing countries are interpreting and dealing with their own topical concerns.

Artworks by Chin Kong Yee, Phaun Thai Meng and Ahmed Shukri Mohammed highlight Malysia’s progress in material development but at the same time faithfulness to the practice of customs and beliefs in tradition.

In Thai Meng’s drawing, the charcoal tonal graduations leave an echo of nostalgia behind in an empty train that speeds towards efficiency.

His usage of newspaper collage hints at the rapidity in which events and emotions become lingering memories of the past, akin to scales shed with each cycle of life. Clinging on in the face of change, the bright palette of Kong Yee’s mom and pop tailoring business with its apple green wooden slats sets off forlorn dreariness of deserted shop.

Like Shikri, Chan Kok Hoo explores the pressures that we are beset with from childhood – becoming a vehicle for hopes and dreams before we are ready to navigate ourselves into and from the driver’s seat.

Anurendra Jegadeva and Ivan Lam offer the viewer engines of interpretation through their juxtaposition of subject matter. Using the traditional dramatic Balinese character Rangda, Goddess of the Underworld, Anurendra brings the eternal battle between good and evil to the viewer.

For some, it is the routine of everyday life that offers a sense of security or a context of meaning, Yau Bee Ling’s Stacked and Packed within the kitchen uses domestic images to convey the rich warmth of home life and emotional ties. Layer upon layer of paint builds up fertile ground for the nurturing structure of the family unit.

Bee Ling’s husband Choy Chun Wei is also interested in the constructs of structures that impart the nature of its inhabitants.

Like Chun Wei, Izzan Tahir integrates text into her print work – alphabets constitute words and shapes and construct forms to create a visual jigsaw recalling notions of love, loss and discovery.

Hamidi Hadi harnesses the material properties of slick enamel paint, shadowy bitumen velvety paint to manifest a three-dimensional push and pull effect.

Multhalib is another artist who thoroughly understands the sheer power of craftsmanship in art. His aesthetic sensibilities, inspired by the beauty of natural and man-made surroundings, move him to sculpt in mild and stainless steel that breathe precision and raw intensity.

Yusof Ghani’s expressive drawings of figures convey the very spirit of human soul. Using mixed media of oil, paint, charcoal, bitumen and chalk, Yousuf materializes on canvas the stuff of dreams and unspoken thoughts.

In this age of globalisation it is often said that art is one of the means by which geographical and political boundaries are transcended. The eighteen pieces of contemporary Malaysian art in this exhibition present this discourse of globalisation and yet remain strongly relevant to the artistic practices of their generation and the concerns of their native landscape.