Van­ity

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART -

For this year’s 18@8 Mir­ror, Mir­ror On The Wall edi­tion, artists were given the task of fig­ur­ing out how so­cial me­dia has changed peo­ple and the way they view them­selves, with nar­cis­sism play­ing a key role.

It all be­gan with the Greek myth of Nar­cis­sus who was so en­am­oured by his own re­flec­tion in the wa­ter, even­tu­ally bring­ing upon his death, as a re­sult of him be­ing com­pletely un­able to take his eyes off of him­self.

Each artist was asked to ex­plore the idea of self-love (be it nar­cis­sism: ego­tism, van­ity, pride, self­ish­ness, grandios­ity, erotic grat­i­fi­ca­tion de­rived from ad­mi­ra­tion of one’s own phys­i­cal or men­tal at­tributes, self-adorn­ment, ob­ses­sion with per­fec­tion, ac­cep­tance from one’s peers, etc) and come up with one ma­jor work which would re­flect this theme.

In ad­di­tion, to in­cor­po­rate a fun el­e­ment to the ex­hibit, the gallery col­lab­o­rated with Ital­ian leather brand, Furla, to cre­ate 12 art bags from their iconic Candy Bag col­lec­tion. Artists were at lib­erty to do what they wanted, with no bound­aries. The bags would then be auc­tioned.

They put on their artis­tic caps and set to work.

For Lam, so­cial me­dia is not some­thing he in­dulges in. Yes, he is e-mail-friendly but doesn’t think it’s nec­es­sary to have Face­book, Twit­ter and In­stra­gram ac­counts al­though count­less friends have tried to set it up for him.

“When I was given the theme, I just wanted to have fun and cre­ate some­thing I don’t usu­ally do. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion is Solip­sism, which deals with the self and how your mea­sure the world against your­self. For me, it’s the ul­ti­mate nar­cis­sism as ev­ery­thing ex­ists be­cause of you. But, it’s also a fal­lacy,” he says.

Solip­sism is the philo­soph­i­cal view that only one’s own mind is sure to ex­ist. Lam’s three-panel paint­ing is in­cred­i­bly pre­cise and neat. The colours, us­ing the colours of the new iPhone 5s, blend into the back­ground, with ver­ti­cal, tri­an­gu­lar and cir­cu­lar de­sign on the pan­els. It traces thelet­ters, “I M U”.

“Ev­ery piece I do is con­nected in some way to fu­ture pieces be­cause it has con­ti­nu­ity. How­ever, I erase what peo­ple call ‘sig­na­ture’ works be­cause I want to push my ideas, chal­lenge my­self and make beau­ti­ful mis­takes. For this, I had to fall back on ba­sic de­sign prin­ci­ples,” he ex­plains.

Lam looks in­wards, as his paint­ing speaks of the du­al­ity within the artist.

“I am ev­ery­one and ev­ery­one is me,” he states. “In the first frame, the state­ments re­flect the whole pop­u­la­tion. I take on many hats and ask who I am to the mir­ror. The an­swer is ‘I am you’.”

Lam ar­gues that no mat­ter how we try to set our­selves apart from oth­ers, we are essen­tially the same in­side. The sec­ond panel re­flects an in­verted tri­an­gle and points to how we ac­tu­ally leave a mo­men­tary im­pact, while the third panel shows that we come back to the same core af­ter mak­ing a cir­cu­lar loop.

“It’s my way of a time cap­sule. My work is di­rect and pretty easy to in­ter­pret, so it’s up to the view­ers to take what they want. There are many lay­ers to it but I nor­mally go along with peo­ple’s sto­ries! Artists are ex­pected to know ev­ery­thing but re­ally, we don’t,” says Lam, who was the first and only artist from Malaysia to present a solo ex­hibit at Art Basel Hong Kong this year. His works have fea­tured in both Sotheby’s and Christie’s auc­tions where his mon­u­men­tal works have fetched a hefty price.

Cre­at­ing the Furla bag, posed a big­ger chal­lenge and he fol­lowed the premise that a bag must be a bag.

He elab­o­rates, “I had only one shot to ‘do it up’. I can’t spoil it and ask for another bag! I didn’t want the form to take over the func­tion of the bag, so I de­lib­er­ately left the bag as it was and sourced for art ma­te­ri­als to put in as con­tents. Peo­ple should be able to carry the bag and craft some­thing us­ing the ma­te­rial in­side. What­ever it is, do.”

In con­trast, Choy’s paint­ing I Shop There­fore I Am (Ur­ban Frag­ment Re­flected) spells chaos. He has utilised scaf­fold­ing and con­struc­tion to build up the in­tri­ca­cies of a straight line. His con­struc­tion has no façade and is hap­haz­ardly struc­tured.

“The theme has been echo­ing in my mind that man-made ob­jects are pen­e­trat­ing the world deeper and mak­ing things chaotic. Our in­ven­tions en­velop our­selves that we some­times can­not tell what is fact and fic­tion. We are start­ing to live in a bub­ble.

“We don’t seem to know where things orig­i­nate from. Nar­cis­sism is the root for our be­hav­iour. We’re so ab­sorbed in th­ese man-made stuff. I can ab­sorb, digest and be part of the sys­tem but I’m not con­trolled by it. We are so dis­tracted (shown in the dis­or­der) that views have be­come fuzzy,” he says.

On a macro level, Choy ad­mits it is a self-re­flec­tive piece though he val­ues form, clar­ity and mis­sion.

A re­cip­i­ent of nu­mer­ous key art awards, Choy has also been granted a res­i­dency with the pres­ti­gious Free­man Foun­da­tion in Vermont, United States. For his bag, he chose to draw peo­ple with mo­bile de­vices, while adding sketches from his pre­vi­ous works. It has a strong con­nec­tion to shop­ping. The bag is the world and peo­ple are around it.

Wong’s piece Fact And Fic­tion con­tends that one needs to scrape the gloss to find the truth. The artist re­calls a quote by Fran­cis Ba­con to il­lus­trate the point that his art­work makes, “Truth is so hard to tell, it some­times needs fic­tion to make it plau­si­ble.”

He por­trays a fig­ure fright­ened with the ad­vent of so­cial me­dia, but yet dis­cov­ers that ev­ery­thing be­gins with a key­board. He jux­ta­poses it with icons and pix­els.

“For me, past and present are all the same. We still use the key­board to type, but in a dif­fer­ent time­frame. Since I have dou­ble vi­sion, I have to in­cor­po­rate many lay­ers into my work oth­er­wise, it seems in­com­plete,” says Wong.

His Furla bag is full of ar­rows sig­ni­fy­ing that Cupid has shot an ar­row into so­cial me­dia and in time, more will em­brace it. De­spite the dis­cern­able lies and un­known truths, Wong says the one thing we are all sus­cep­ti­ble to is love.

Another in­ter­est­ing piece is Sean Lean’s Dear God(s). His art­work deals with cul­tural du­al­ity – his mother prays to an­cient Taoist idols while he wor­ships su­per­heroes in comic books.

As for the bags, the var­i­ous artists came up with a va­ri­ety of de­signs.

One that stood out was Zulk­i­fli Yu­soff’s Bu­rung And Kura-Kura. Both his paint­ing and bag shared the same mo­tif. Us­ing resin and fi­bre­glass, his de­sign de­picted the shell of a tor­toise, with wheels and birds drawn all over.

Azl­iza Ayob, fas­ci­nated by the se­duc­tive and re­veal­ing look of the trans­par­ent candy bag, used lace, acrylic and syn­thetic stones to adorn her bag. It will ap­peal to ladies as it evokes a sense of fem­i­nin­ity and en­tice­ment.

Stray­ing from deeper is­sues that af­fect the world, Anuren­dra’s Furla bag takes a play­ful respite and ex­plores the cult of per­son­al­ity through some pop­u­lar icons in­clud­ing Elvis Presley, Barack Obama, Che Gue­vara and P. Ram­lee.

The auc­tion, held last week, raised RM70,600 with pro­ceeds go­ing to SPCA. The high­est bid went to the candy bag cre­ated by Zulk­i­fli Yu­soff (RM17,000), fol­lowed by Lam (RM13,000) and Anuren­dra (RM13,000).

The 18@8 Mir­ror, Mir­ror On The Wall ex­hi­bi­tion is on at Wei-Ling Con­tem­po­rary (G212&213A Ground Floor, The Gar­dens Mall, Kuala Lumpur) till Jan 16. Open daily from 10am-9pm. Ad­mis­sion is free. Call 03-2260 1106 or 03-2282 8323 for more info. Browse: www.weil­ing­gallery.com.

anuren­dra Je­gadeva’s Pop-popTrin­ity (Plu­sOne) plays around with pop­u­lar icons such as Obama, elvis Presley, che Gue­vara and P. ram­lee. Sean Lean’s art­work dearGod(s) deals with the cul­tural du­al­ity in his life — his mum prays to Taoist idols while he wor­ships comic book su­per­heroes.

Who am I? I am you. That’s what Ivan Lam por­trays in his Solip­sism.

‘cupid can shoot ar­rows blindly but it

will even­tu­ally hit some­one,’ says Wong chee meng. His bag is called cupid’sar­rows.

Zulk­i­fli yu­soff’s cre­ation, The­birds andTheTor­toise, us­ing resin and fi­bre­glass, fetched a hand­some rm17,000 at the char­ity auc­tion.

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