The Star, 24 December 2005
Soothing exploration into the art of figures
by Lim Chia Ying

THE evening was cool and breezy in the aftermath of rain, and was perfect setting for the opening of the Mind, Body, & Soul group exhibition.

The exhibition, which showcases the works of 12 eminent Malaysian artists specialising in figures – Jalaini Abu Hassan, Lee Swee Keong, Shia Yih Yiing, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Hamir Soib, Chong Siew Ying, Kow Leong Kiang, Chan Kok Hooi, Azrul Kevin Abdullah, Goh Lee Kwang, and Kok Siew Wai – was officially opened on Dec 10.

The brainchild of Bayu Utomo Radjikin, the exhibition aims to examine the different approaches to using figures in Malaysian art today.

Held at the Wei-Ling Gallery in Brickfields, the launch of the showcase was made grander with lavish Yuletide celebrations that marked the gallery’s inaugural Christmas bash, having opened only in September.

Bayu Utomo's work on display at Wei-Ling Gallery.

Bayu Utomo’s work on display at Wei-Ling Gallery.

No effort was spared in terms of adornment, as the gallery interior was a masterpiece in itself, with art displays and beautiful Christmas trimmings to bring forth the festive mood.

Stimulation of the senses was the order of the day, with everything being served in dramatic flair.

Visitors were greeted by brightly lit candles, immaculately laid tables, and the aroma of roast lamb, evoking fantasies of being transported to the happy final feast of Charles Dicken’s tale, A Christmas Carol.

With Christmas tunes softly playing in the background, pianist Zalina Lee and soprano Cheong Whye Mun got everyone in the festive spirit as they sang along to classic favourites like Deck the Halls and O Come All Ye Faithful.

Guests later proceeded to the second floor of the four-storey building where another surprise awaited them – the stunning sight of contemporary dancer extraordinaire Lee Swee Keong, who was covered in white paint and sprawled across a dining table.

The lights went out and Lee came to life, swaying provocatively in a dance entitled String, with accompaniment by sound artist Goh Lee Kwang.

Murmurs of appreciation were heard from the 200-odd guests who clearly admired the dancer’s interpretive movements, and the different techniques, mediums and styles used by the artists.

From the sensuous Dreamer by Kow Leong Kiang to the surrealism of Chan Kok Hooi’s The Sour Milk of the Milky Way, there was something for everyone.

Then, there were Bayu Utomo’s almost whimsical self-portraits superimposed onto impressions of London, which generated much discussion.

There was an endless stream of food throughout, as guests indulged in roast lamb, home-made roast turkey with stuffing, and home-made Christmas cakes and mince pies. An old-fashioned freshly mulled wine capped of the meal.

The exhibition until Dec 28. For details, call 03-2260 1106.