The pieces presented in ‘Through Rose-Tinted Glasses’ exhibition portray both personal and social issues that are significant to the artists’ lives. As opposed to criticizing the realities, the artists are challenged to meditate on existing conditions and envision an alternative, more hopeful version of reality. Each artist sheds a light on an issue that is affecting them, some with the hope of providing the viewers with a new perspective of the issue at hand – a fresher way of looking at the world and coping with its complexities. Other artists go on to showing hints of their vision regarding the future of our society. Their works do not include waiting passively for things to get better, but provoke discussions about the potentiality of modeling tomorrow – seeing ideas, whether utopic, artificial or not, as possibilities. As Henri Matisse said, “There are always flowers to those who want to see them.”
The exhibition features twelve distinguished artists: Annabelle Ng, Anurendra Jegadeva, Cheng Yen Pheng, Cheong Kiet Cheng, Chin Kong Yee, Diana Lui, Fairuz Sulaiman, Kim Ng, Ruzzeki Harris, Sean Lean, TOPY and Yim Yen Sum. Their works range from painting on canvas, wall painting, photogram, silkscreen print, to audio-visual performance and installation.
In Secretion, Concealment and Stealth (2017), a series of three silkscreens on pre-painted canvas, Kim Ng explores the idea of concealing truths. His focus on human behavior leads him to observe cultural and political situations in Malaysia and reflect on existing social issues in a subtle way. As an artist, Ng is concerned about the future of the next generation. As he notes, while Malaysia exists in a state of peace, its history has been shaped by many conflicts. These social and political conflicts are occasionally brought up and discussed intensively, but tend to gradually disappear without a trace, and therefore remain unresolved. Ng attempts to communicate this form of social amnesia by directly working on canvases that have been pre-painted by others, as if to conceal the negative events that took place in the past, and conjure up an alternative, brighter vision of how the conditions should be. The layers of materials, overlaps of colors and repetitions of gestures inside the work create garden-like landscapes, which serve to emphasize the necessity of looking at the state of things through a more positive perspective. The artist affirms that despite being bound by political restrictions, individuals need to exercise their freedom of speech and not fall silent when confronted with injustices. The artist’s role becomes, what Ng likes to call, a “reviewer” of the society we live in.
To Diana Lui, artists are more than observers. They bear the responsibility of creating an alternative, albeit a positive space, which we can retreat into when the pressures of modern life isolate us from our sense of self. This idea is illustrated in Lui’s life-size photogram, AUM #3 (2015), in which she depicts both life and darkness. The title of the work refers to the mantra “Aum”, which ancient Yoga scriptures describe as the sound of creation. This sentiment of re-awakening is echoed by her choice of materials (sand, seeds, crystals and sunflower) that she collected throughout her travels to different parts of the world while on a personal journey to rediscover the depths of her identity. Most remarkably the sand being from Aswan, Egypt and the seeds from the rainforest of Taman Negara, Malaysia. To Lui, the process of disconnecting from the world for a certain period of time is her approach towards becoming a more conscious individual.
To exist in harmony with one’s surrounding, one must be knowledgeable of his or her personality. For the artist, journeying through Egypt was her way to “reinitialize” herself. While walking along the Nile river for the first time, Lui was overcome with a sudden feeling of deja vu. Her soul and body reacted powerfully to the place as if it was her origin. This emotional experience led her to reflect on her life path and role in society. Wearing multiple “hats”, both as a mother and a professional artist, her work also examines the role of women in current society. “More than ever, women have the capacity or freedom to choose, but there is a lot of work and learning involved in finding the right balance.”
A distinctive approach to seeing the current political situation in Malaysia can be found in Sean Lean’s mixed media on canvas, Blue Circle, Red Circle, Green Hexagon and Yellow Triangle(2017). In this work, he depicts a taboo subject that people avoid talking about; the national election. By that, he criticizes how our society tends to evade critical conversations by directing the public’s attention somewhere else. This is what the artist calls the act of “sugar-coating”, which is emphasized here by the choice of bright colors. The blurred effect created within the work refers to how digital censorship alters and conceals the truth. By directing the viewer’s attention to the act of censorship, he seems to say that it is not the right way to resolve problems. As he mentioned, “You can’t put off fire using paper.”
Through Rose-Tinted Glasses will be showing from 6th December 2017 to 31st January 2018 at Wei-Ling Contemporary.
Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at RT-01 Sixth Floor, The Gardens Mall, 59200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm.
Please call +60322828323/ +60322601106 or email: [email protected] for more information.