The Star, 26 November 2007
No central theme, yet exciting
by Vivienne Pal
NOVELTY and excitement are hardly generated through repetition, but when it happens, the thrill experienced is always as fresh as the first time.
Though already three years in the making, the 18@8 exhibition at Wei-Ling Gallery has in store a few new and exciting works – both from new artists and those who showed in the previous instalments.
The line-up includes Anurendra Jegadeva, Ivan Lam, Yusof Ghani, Multhalib Musa, Bayu Utomo Radjikin; 18@8 newcomers Wong Chee Meng and Zulkifli Yusof, and Pakistani artist Amin Gulgee.
From making a statement on what the gallery stood for, to taking contemporary Malaysian artists beyond local shores, this year’s 18@8 is focused on the artistic development of the stable of artists under the Wei-Ling umbrella.
The artists were selected based on their achievements in the year and their directions in 2008, said director Lim Wei-Ling.
This was, she said, essentially her list of artists to look out for in the coming year.
There is no central theme, as Lim has refrained from constraining the artists with creative and content-driven perimeters.
Naturally, one can expect the ubiquitous social and self-discovery commentaries, and visual narrative of individual experiences, but the expressions and their approaches thereof – particularly in light of its artists – are fresh.
For instance, renowned abstract-expressionist Yusof Ghani who has veered from the ephemeral figurative to close-up visage, has taken his ‘Wajah’ series a step further with ‘Wajah Series – Entourage 1’ in which a compilation of 72 faces are set in a tile-like manner atop a single canvas in charcoal and oil.
These signal the concept of humanistic values and the crisis of identity in which the Everyman questions his origins and direction.
Ivan Lam, still fresh from his previous show at the gallery, has a new approach to figurative art with his large close-up of a man’s face, in which he questions the representation of the human appearance.
Lam was not really a figurative painter; this piece was a progression from his first attempt at figuratives in his last solo ‘After all These Years…’ at the gallery and another daring attempt to push the envelope where his works are concerned.
The piece was constructed through layers of black and white polymer paint in multiple strokes over a red background which cleverly resembles red strokes on the face.
By the same token, Bayu Utomo – well known for his self-portraits – has, this time, portrayed a different face in his quest of self-discovery and reflection, although with the same painterly ‘formula’.
Chin Kong Yee gives through a fish eye-view, a voyeuristic impression of Prague, initially formed from the writings of Milan Kundera, and further concretised during his visit there.
Meanwhile Yau Bee Ling moves from a crowded domestic scene to that of a busy public space chockfull with human figures in ‘Crowd in Transit’.
Wong Chee Meng’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is an interpretation of hallucinatory effects rendered through an optical illusion of pastel circles, dots and strokes which reveal upon closer inspection, three horsemen under its surface. A tip: think Albrecht Durer’s ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’.
Zulkifli Yusoff, who represented Malaysia at the 1997 Viennese Biennale broaches the Malay identity with his piece entitled ‘Sarang Tebuan Jangan Dijolok’ – a potent proverb drawn from the wells of history through the writings of former British Resident General Lewis Morris.
The provocative rendition of hornets in the truculent colours of orange and ochre hint at Zulkifli’s sympathies.
Amin Gulgee makes a guest appearance with ‘Flight II’, a new work based on a line in his Iqra series which states ‘God taught humankind what it did not know’.
The assemblage is a randomly ordered and illegible script fluidly sculpted to convey freedom and joy.
Such interesting content of this year’s 18@8 is, hopefully, an indication of more in the coming year.
18@8 is on show until Nov 28 at Wei-Ling Gallery, 8, Jalan Scott, Brickfields. For details, call 03-2260 1106.