This show sets out to showcase upcoming talent from all over Malaysia. Launched as a competition by the Penang Art District, submissions were few but of a fairly good quality. The judges ranged from a plethora of different backgrounds but were able to spot the most promising and I agree with a lot of their choices.
The competition had no overarching theme and yet there is a definite sense of political discourse within the work. Perhaps this comes as politics is on the minds of so many young Malaysians, particularly since the 2018 elections. As I spoke to the artists at the opening, it was clear that this really was the case, and not just my own political leanings influencing my thought.
This show is a show for beginning artists, and this is evident in the quality of some of the processes used. For example simple things like stretching canvases properly and layering paint in the right order to create an illusion, were overlooked. Some however, were very professional, such as Charis Loke’s illustration which had gone through a series of processes both digital and materials led, that encouraged the audience look for longer and linger. I particularly enjoyed the subtlety of her image, which again had political undertones. I wasn’t familiar with the the story of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’ by Ursula K. Le Guin but she enlightened me and the story is worth knowing. Loke’s artwork, like the story, asks the audience how much suffering of others are we willing to put up with to make our lives more convenient and pleasurable. Take a moment if you can to notice the subtle hidden face of an orang asli hiding in the work.
The winning piece by Yap Ley Min was a haunting medley of colourful chaotic lines depicting when her neighbour’s house caught on fire and definitely felt like the most eye-catching piece in the exhibition. This has already sold as I’m sure she is now a growing name in the collector’s world. My favourites were amongst the non-paintings. These include Ryan Ng’s fish masquerading as something they are not, and Hanisah Suhaibatun’s macrame designed to show the potential strength that Malaysia could have if we could find harmony in unity. Rosezienna Shika Anak Kelambu, Susan Ho and Valery Koh are also strong visual artists with a bright future ahead of them.
This is a great exhibition to see the upcoming stars of the Malaysian art scene, and collect artwork whilst it is still affordable. All work is for sale at reasonable prices, although some is already sold.
EcoWorld Gallery is a magnificent setting to have such an event in. Hopefully the prestige of the venue will encourage the young artists to continue with their artistic careers.
Spotlight by Penang Art District Group Exhibition will be on at EcoWorld Gallery, 119 Macalister Road, until December 2nd 2108. Opening hours are 9am until 6pm daily. You can read more about Penang Art District here.
by Lusy Koror