This exhibition is the follow up to the Penang Art District’s “Spotlight” show last year, which highlighted a range of young Malaysian artists through a nationwide competition. The winner, Yap Ley Min, won the opportunity to have a solo show at the esteemed Hin Bus Depot, and what a show this is! She is still young but this 21 year old lady is definitely going to be popular amongst collectors as her style is both definitive and exciting. She was born in Butterworth and only recently graduated from Equator College. She hopes to become a full time artist working across a wide range of media to express her observations of human emotions visually.
“I take pleasure in observing the interactions between humans when they are in their most natural and habitual conditions – scrutinizing their emotions and physical movements in various scenarios, be it a perilous state or cherished moment.” Says Yap.
The artworks showcased here do exactly that. She seems to have found an instinctive visual language that has a strong connection (for me at least) to the German “Die Brucke” post-expressionist movement, and 1980s neo-expressionism and primativism. It seems with her earlier work, as all young artists do whilst finding their identity, she gave into the peer pressure of what she thinks is “good art”, however her strongest pieces were made more recently and are obviously from her own instinct and these ones are truly delightful. My favourite piece without a doubt was “A Walk to Balathandayuthapani Temple” which replicates the turbulent euphoria and exuberant colours and noises that make up Thaipusam festival. At the opening of this show, Penang Exco YB Yeoh Soon Hin and he stated “Nurturing and investing in creativity are vital in preserving our cultural expression and identity.” And this painting does just that. Similarly so do her artworks such as “Paddy Field” and “Fun at Hin Bus”.
Yap Ley Min creates uncomplicated forms and shapes that are almost as simple as possible whilst still being recognizable as human. Onto this she then layers colours and textures to show the movement and emotion. In her Thaipusam painting she morphs humans within the crowd into strange alien creatures that are mostly eyes and outlines, observing the events. In her mixed media pieces the humans are blobs but they are identifiable enough so it becomes their actions and their emotions that speak loud. There is no need for photorealistic detail when we never really remember things precisely from an emotional encounter anyway. I saw a TV Show once where America’s oldest woman, who was over 100, gave her secret to life. She said that people never remember the exact words you say, but they do remember how you made them feel. I think that Yap’s artworks really demonstrate, and almost replicate the feeling of these moments in time. They are raw, honest and playful and I love them.
Yap Ley Min’s bright contemporary style blends well with the textured aesthetics of Hin Bus Depot. Alongside this exhibition they have a section where they are still selling prints to raise money for the Artist in Residency program. Hin Bus Depot is a an exciting hub of the arts that contains everything from fine dining to cute local souvenir shops, and a particular highlight is the Sunday Pop up Art market which has great food and drink, locally made crafts, and even acro-yoga. If you are new to Penang, it is definitely worth the visit, and if you haven’t been in a while, you’ll see that it has grown and flourished and is a wonderful place to spend your whole Sunday.
Spotlight by Penang Art District Presents “The Human Form”, A Solo show by Yap Ley Min is at Hin Bus Depot Art Gallery Until 3rd March 2019. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 12noon to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 8pm. For general information, visit the Penang Art District online at www.penangartdistrict.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lusy Koror