Two years ago, on the 17th August 2017, two friends came together to collaborate for an exhibition at Luna Bar Café. These two friends, Hao and Wei Ming, have now come together again to create a new exhibition, which opened on 17th August 2019, in Ome by Spacebar Coffee, Lorong Toh Aka.

Sharing similar aesthetic ambitions, the two friends have created a futuristic ambience in this beautiful old building, mashing old with new. The concept of the work has roots in the idea of animism, that every inanimate object has a soul. Hao talked to me about abiogenesis and the “internet of things” concept of all objects, animals and people ultimately being hacked to transfer data over a shared network. The drawings, made in ball point pen on canvas, are the imaginings of creatures millennia in the future, where random space junk has crashed into each other and began to evolve. They are a mashup of the what will ultimately be archaic gun turrets, NASA space suits, plants and so much more. They shed the identity of their former life to become fresh new babies, exploring space. Each artwork, though similar in construction, appears to have its own personality.

Hao Yuan Cheng deliberately used the ball point pen on the canvas to achieve more sketchy textured lines rather than his usual precise lines. He wanted the images to appear loose and sketchy because abiogenesis and the evolution of life is similarly organic. There are also interesting sculptures, That are a collaboration between the two friends, throughout the café to give an ambience of futuristic chaos and one has to duck as one climbs the stairs, and always look where you put your feet because there are pipes everywhere with plants growing from them. They want you to pay attention to the environment you’re in, not just “photo photo photo swipe”.

Also known as Black Project, Hao Yuan Cheng is a Penang-based artist and illustrator. He studied accounting in Durham, UK and is largely self taught. He has also lived in York, Johor and Brunei for many years. Hao is well known for his intricate imaginative line work. The work is very reasonably priced as he is not a full time artist yet, however most of it sold out on opening night so you’ll have to get there quick if you want something.

Ome by Spacebar café is a chic coffeehouse on Lorong Toh Aka. Here you can get excellent coffee and the zucchini cake is magnificient. They have different coffees from all around the world and their baristas, particularly Joachim the owner, really know their coffee. The building is a beautiful example of what can be done to falling down George Town shophouses with a little love and a lot of elbow grease.

The exhibition is open from 17th August to 17th September 2019. Opening times are from 8am – 6pm every day except Thursdays. Ome by Spacebar Coffee, is No.1 Lorong Toh Aka, 10100 Georgetown, Penang. 

By Lusy Koror