“Art Within Theatre” is a project that was initially started to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Penang Players Music and Drama Society. The idea was to show that Penang Players performers also had skills within the visual arts. Since then, they have grown in size, and this has now become a yearly event exhibiting work from all their different types of performers, from actors to comedians to playwrights. This year’s theme of “Growth” sees 11 artists exhibiting, who all work in very different styles. These include Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson, Joelle Saint-Arnault, Eric Yeoh, Ivan Gabriel, Fa Abdul, Vatsn, Tommes, Lusy Koror, Hungry Goat, Mikk Towers, Tommes and Vijay Nathan. Each one has at some point been involved with a Penang Players performance in the last year.
Without a doubt, my favourite work in this show is by Fa Abdul. I confess that initially when whizzing round the exhibition I didn’t take the time to read the quotes by the artworks, and I missed the depth of her work. I thought they were lovely photos but not much more. When I got a moment later to go back and read the quotes, I was moved to tears. Fa Abdul is an influential playwright with a portfolio of plays that are political, controversial, humorous and yet also deeply moving. It seems that her artwork also meets these criteria too.
I was also delighted by the ludicrous decadence of the Hungry Goat’s work, as it sparkled in the light, constantly changing with every movement I made. Mikk Tower’s work is always splendid to see as his wood working skills are phenomenal, as is the amount of work that he produces. The intricacies of a coral reefs that inspire him are found throughout these pieces, with varying sizes and forms to mimic the underwater world.
Upstairs there are also some treats, my favourite being the flying pigs by Eric Yeoh. I confess I am always drawn to bright colours and bold lines, as well as a sense of humour within art, and so this one really tickled me. Then right at the end we have the delicate technical drawing of Vatsn demonstrating the evolution of the car industry, in juxtaposition with Ivan Gabriel’s delicate organic forms that will evolve and grow throughout the month. The work of Joelle Saint-Arnault, also upstairs, is also organic and playful which I loved, and Overall, this show achieved exactly what good art should achieve: it provoked a range of complex emotions and ideas, as well as being fun and interesting to look at.
Art Within Theatre III: Growth is open in the foyer of Penangpac (level 3A Straits Quay), both upstairs and downstairs until March 29th and is part of the Open Studios Penang event line up. It can be visited from 10am to 6.30pm daily, or if you happen to be heading to see a show there this month, such as Red Velvet or Forkbeard, then do take the time, if you can, to arrive a little early and peruse the artwork.
By Lusy Koror