With over 90 international and local artists, and over 30 different venues, this event on the 14/15/16 June 2019 looks to be a spectacular demonstration of not only the skill and talent of those who reside on this special island, but also their independence and ingenuity. This event is artist-led, to bring artists and art lovers together.
With so much to do it is difficult to know where to start so if you find that you are pressed for time, then there are two good options for you: The first is that there is a great list of highlights that have been selected by the program coordinators. This is a shortlist of who and what the producers are most excited about and is visible on the digital events program at https://openstudiospenang.com (just scroll down a bit). The second option is to attend the Art Trail… with me, Lusy Koror. As an art writer, artist, curator and comedienne, I know the Penang art scene very well indeed and it will be my pleasure to share it with you in this intimate walking tour where we can discuss and decipher the art together. It will take place on 15th June from 4pm-6pm, and 16th June 11am-1pm, meeting outside Narrow Marrow café to start with. Please book in advance at www.lah.space or email firstname.lastname@example.org
However if you have freedom for the weekend then here are a few of the things that I think look really interesting:
Mandy Maung is a local artist whose work I really love and she will be exhibiting in the wonderful Art E Space in Straits Quay 11am-5pm each day. She is a figurative painter who creates highly realistic paintings. This show looks to be particularly exciting as it seems more autobiographical than her usual work and therefore more thought provoking as a result.
Another personal favourite of mine is Aboud Fares. It may seem a little far out to go to Tanjung Bungah but I guarantee it will be worth it. I have been following the career of this metal sculptor for the past few years and this will be a rare and wonderful opportunity to see his workspace as well as his current series. Recently his work has been more utilitarian in nature, designing abstracted forms into bicycle frames and light fixtures. This makes his work very purchasable and with the name he is making for himself in the international art scene, his work is a great investment. His work is one of the official “highlights” of the weekend and there will also be artwork by Alaa Shasheet exhibited in the same space.
As well as exhibitions and open studios, there will also be some live art making taking place at China House between 10am-5pm on each day. Ilza Burchett will be creating a site specific piece as part of her series called “Infinity”. As she says in her own words:
“The idea of Infinity is represented by a multiplicity of colour lines drawn freely by hand. In my art, a line is a signifier of my existence: it inscribes my being and my action in time and space. It appears from the void and then returns to it. It is boundless/infinite as an idea and yet it is bounded/limited by the physicality of its appearance”. As a great lover of lines, I will definitely be there to engage with this and will pop back regularly to see its development throughout the weekend.
“Beginnings” is a group show at Gudang Café and some of the artists will be there to chat with from 11am-4pm each day. It is a rare treat to meet the artist, and I think it is great that they’ll be there because discussion with the art maker can give the audience a more in depth interaction and experience with the artwork. All the artists, in this exhibit, are at the beginning phase of their careers and if you’re a collector of art this may be a good place to spot future talent. The Malay artist Nasir Nadzir will be exhibiting his fine line realistic animal drawings there and he is already proving to be quite successful amongst collectors of nature themed art.
Moving on to something completely different, above the ice cream shop Creameal at Hin Bus Depot, is Little Art House Studios. Here there will be an exhibition of photography by Gabriela Garza-Lainez alongside my own interactive Virtual Reality paintings. The space is open from 12noon-7pm Friday/Saturday/Sunday and exhibits two very different perspectives of the same island. If you haven’t seen the advancements in Virtual Reality technology lately, this could be a good experience for you as you can “virtually” climb inside the paintings and look around. There will also be a live improvised comedy show in that space that night, by the Penang Player Improv Club. Pay RM20 entry and a whole night of silly laughter await you. Book online at www.lah.space
Last but not least I also want to mention the really cool idea by Ivan Gabriel. This is a group show where each artist has created a response to a wooden block that it 8 x 6 inches in size. Every artist has had a very different response to the wood, but they all had the same starting point. I think it will be really exciting to see the manifestation of the imagination of these artists. There will be an opening event on Friday 14th at 7pm where there will be dance, stand up comedy and a short film shown, which really demonstrates the variety of artists involved in this exhibit. The space is open daily from 12pm-6pm.
There are so many different artists and exhibitions, it is difficult to summarize all of them. Other than the ones I’ve mentioned, I would definitely recommend detailed intimate botanicals by Esther Geh at Heap Seng House. The amazing Kiah Kiean is opening his studio in Jalan Fettes. At 13 Armenian Street there will be surrealist painting by Tom Powell, textural glass by Fuan Wong, & photo-collage by Howard. The X-Ray series by Mohamed Sany Bin Abdullah at Galeri Seni Mutiara looks good to. It is also important to acknowledge the Vietnamese artists in Urban Green Cabin, opposite Viva Victoria which will be a big hub for the weekend of talks, workshops and exhibitions. Pretty much everything that is going on, especially the official highlights, looks fantastic.
This really will be an exciting weekend for all the family to, as there are events, workshops, talks, and exhibitions that are bound to peak everyone’s interest. There are no printed booklets so make sure you get online to the website https://openstudiospenang.com and scroll down to look at the program of events.
By Lusy Koror