It’s Been a While, and I’m Finally Here…

Wei-Ling Gallery is pleased to present Tang Tze Lye’s first  first solo exhibition with the gallery, ‘It’s Been a While, and I’m Finally Here…’. Tang Tze Lye was one of two artists who were selected to participate in the first edition of the WLG Incubator Young Artists Mentorship Program in 2020. The WLG Incubator is an initiative by Wei-Ling Galleries that was launched as a platform to highlight and collaborate on projects with emerging Malaysian artists. It is dedicated to help artists create a sustainable art practice, which allows them to develop their confidence towards making art that is authentic, experimental and progressive. Through this Incubator, the gallery hopes to discover and nurture artists and projects, which are critical towards shaping the voice of the next generation.

This new series is a culmination of Tze Lye’s experimentations surrounding the themes that he has always been drawn to: the body, queer identities, and beauty. The main artworks, taking form as a combination between painting and sculptures, once again express one’s journey of finding his true identity. Pink is a colour that predominates this series, as it not only represents femininity, but also serves as a sign of birth and power, which the artist uses to challenge conventional views surrounding gender. The series also sees the artist placing himself out of his comfort zone as a painter, by adopting ready-made materials such as tissue rolls made into a paper pulp mixture, as well as plastic containers, inspired by the mundanity of life under the lockdown. To the artist, there is something poetic behind transforming these everyday objects into sculptures, as it mirrors the repetition and meditative processes that mark his practice and life.

Multiple plastic containers are combined together, and enveloped by paper pulp before being painted over, with lines that suggest facial features such as the eyes, the nose and the mouth. Inspired by primitive masks, these faces look abstract, symbolising the beauty that lies within imperfection, as well as the natural metamorphosis of our facial features. Instead of a mask, I am not alone III (2021) transforms the same materials into a clock, emphasizing his slow process of art-making; starting from conceptualising the work, continuously arranging the containers, to experimenting with the colour pigments. The clock is somehow his attempt of materializing, and reclaiming the time spent on the making of these objects, which are deeply personal to him.

These materials also find themselves repeating in the mixed media work, Thing Happens I Could Never Imagined (2021), whereby the artist constructed a three-meter composition inspired by the cityscapes. This dynamic arrangement is covered by a transparent acrylic box, which bears a neon sign of the artwork title. As an artist, Tze Lye’s work goes beyond autobiographical; therefore, the phrase has a dual meaning in regards to the theme of gender. Firstly, it refers to his personal struggles as a non-binary person, and secondly, it evokes his feelings about how gender-fluid individuals are being treated in society – experiences that he could never imagine, which are unfortunately out of his control. There is a feeling of hopelessness expressed in this work, at the same time, the light signifies a hopeful attitude towards a better future, for both himself and the LGBTQ community.
Apart from paintings that present playful compositions of intimate male body parts, Tze Lye extends his attempt at unwrapping the relationship between the body and memory, through his video work Skin (2021). This experimental video poetically combines footage of natural lights and shadows reflected on the skin, which to him serve as symbols of memory and truth. Inspired by his favourite poet Pablo Nerunda who once wrote, “As if you were on fire from within. The moon lives on the lining of your skin”, Tze Lye once again creates a romantic and dramatic impression surrounding the body, as an inseparable element to the self.

About Tang Tze Lye (B. 1989)
Tang Tze Lye obtained his Bachelor’s degree in painting from the MSU Baroda Fine Art University, India (2014-2015) and his Master’s degree in Studio-Based Practice, from USM, Penang (2018-2021). Tze Lye’s interdisciplinary practice focuses on the body as a vehicle to narrate stories surrounding gender, queer identities, and beauty. The bodies in his paintings and sculptures represent his personal, perpetual struggle of trying to understand his true identity, expressed through a combination of bright and pastel colours, as well as the tonality of blue and chromatic pink, to represent something gendered in nature.

Touching the subject of queer, his work challenges our belief of what the body of the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ should be. His bold provocative works also shed light on the idea of loving one’s own body, while bringing up the issue of ‘body-shaming’, a form of bullying that exists yet is often disregarded in our society. The figures in his paintings are painted from the point of view and style of queer art, emphasizing intimacy and fantasy, and suggesting the normalisation of taboos surrounding the body and gender.

It’s Been a While, and I’m Finally Here… is featured at Wei-Ling Gallery from 20 January – 26 February 2022.

Wei-Ling Gallery is located 8, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm.

Exhibition is open by appointment only. For appointments and further assistance, please contact +60322601106 or e-mail siewboon@weiling-gallery.com