DON’T judge an exhibition by its provocative promo artwork. That seems to be the case with the Seberang Laut exhibition, which is a punk- centred art show featuring a group of DIY artists, at the relaunched Run Amok gallery ( within Hin Bus Depot Art Centre) in George Town in Penang.
“There is definitely a lot of punk energy on the walls. Direct action and art – as a basic concept – can be a powerful force even if it originates from marginal communities. This is the thrust of the exhibition,” says curator Hasanul Isyraf Seberang Laut exhibition centres on punk activism and DIY art culture. Idris, 37, a full- time artist based in Penang. ties,” he adds about the content of the Run
“But the gallery visitor doesn’t have to be a Amok collective’s first show of the year. punk music fan, or even a gig- going regular, “This art is punk’s connection to the broadto see that these works – and their themes – er world of activism. By exhibiting, the artcan exist outside their original communiists themselves can sharpen their views and see how their art can get a conversation going within the art community and beyond.”
Seberang Laut, which features more than 60 works, meets at the interchange of punk, music and politics. Sabahan artists like Rizo Leong, Adam Jamal, Agus Sto and Mamink, and KL- based names like Alak, Amy Hamdan and Rat Heist complete the line- up.
Each artist has a colourful background, with day jobs such as art activist, mural painter, illustrator and backdrop designer, DIY record store owner and student. They also actively contribute to the local punk music scene’s need for handbills, record covers, T- shirt designs and posters.
Beyond a few prints dedicated to hard- hitting homegrown punk band The Bollocks, this show pushes further.
“Through the works of Agus Sto and Rizo Leong ( from Ranau- based arts collective Pangrok Sulap), we get an intimate and close reading of certain issues situated within the communities there. Yes, the context is local, but Sabahan issues about the environment, reckless development, education, corruption and poverty are universal enough for everybody to figure out,” says Hasanul.
Hasanul, a former art teacher, befriended these Sabahan artists in Seberang Laut while he was posted in Keningau, Sabah in 2006.
“These artists have improved tremendously through the years, and you’ll see more of them now,” he says.
Leong’s woodcut prints, some highlighting the local community’s right to oppose the Kaiduan Dam project, have been exhibited in Tokyo. For this show, he contributes works like Kerana Manusia Kembali Ke Manusia and Jungle Of Hope, which address issues like illegal logging and community displacement. Penampang- based Agus Sto, a farmer and DIY merchandise vendor, lends a grim mood to Seberang Laut with his haunting series of blackened animal skulls – mostly native to Sabah – caused by widespread deforestation.
For such a modest show, the artists, working with ink on paper, silkscreen, watercolour and paper clay sculptures, have responded with a wide array of themes and concerns. It could be said that the punk community has come a long way: this new generation of open- minded punk artists supports a truly inclusive environment.
“Most of the artists involved in this show have never exhibited in a commercial gallery. That’s a starting point, I think, for them to expose their works. The fact is they have been largely responsible for the art and visual aesthetic – DIY style – used within their non- mainstream communities, and they are open to a wider audience, too. Maybe, it’s time for the masses to take notice of them,” concludes Hasanul.
is on at run Amok gallery ( within Hin Bus Depot Art Centre), 59A, Jalan timah, George town, Penang till March 13. Open daily: noon to 7pm. Closed on Monday. Facebook: run Amok. Call 010- 461 7311. Email: info@ runamok. my.
Alak's ( silkscreen on canvas, 2015).
Photos: run Amok Gallery
( ink on paper, 2015).