Where beauty lurks

Through art, Yuki Tham cap­tures and vi­su­alises the con­ver­sa­tions in her head.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Art - By QISHIN TARIQ star2@thes­tar.com.my

ART is the process of trans­fer­ring thoughts from one’s mind to the can­vas.

So says vis­ual artist Yuki Tham, 25, who re­veals that though she stud­ied art, she con­tin­ues to be a big fan of psy­chol­ogy. Now she com­bines the two pas­sions, us­ing her oil paint­ings as a way of ex­plor­ing the con­ver­sa­tions in her head.

While study­ing her diploma at the Da­sein Academy Of Art in KL, she dis­cov­ered her love of the fig­u­ra­tive genre un­der the guid­ance of her lec­tur­ers, award-win­ning Cheong Tuck Wai in par­tic­u­lar.

“In col­lege I did paint male fig­ures, but now I pre­fer to de­pict fe­male fig­ures, it’s much more per­sonal,” says Tham, adding that she sees the fig­ures as her­self even if they do not share her face.

“I’ve done self por­traits. But for me, it feels far bet­ter to be the pho­tog­ra­pher and not the model. What an­other pho­tog­ra­pher cap­tures might be dif­fer­ent from what I want, as the beauty we see might be dif­fer­ent,” she says.

“Plus, I’m cam­era shy,” quips the pe­tite young lady.

Though she has been draw­ing and sketch­ing since young, Tham al­most did not en­ter art school due to some un­sup­port­ive in­flu­ences in her life. Drift­ing be­tween jobs for two years in Kuala Lumpur, she re­alised she didn’t want to be stuck with an of­fice job for the rest of her life.

Since grad­u­at­ing in 2014, Tham has be­come a fix­ture of the G13 gallery, tak­ing part in eight group ex­hi­bi­tions there. Most no­tably, she fea­tured in the gallery’s an­nual fig­u­ra­tive ex­hibit Con­fig­u­ra­tion in 2014.

In her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled Beauty Be­hind The Mad­ness , now show­ing at G13, she con­tin­ues her sig­na­ture style of pen­sive-look­ing women pos­ing with their dop­pel­gangers in old, grey-shaded high­rise build­ings and apart­ment tow­ers.

As with pre­vi­ous se­ries, Tham ex­plains, the use of two ver­sions of the same model in the same piece re­flects dif­fer­ent as­pects of the per­son’s per­son­al­ity.

For the Beauty Be­hind The Mad­ness show, Tham roped in a pair of Da­sein ju­niors to model around her home, an apart­ment com­plex in Wangsa Maju.

While her pre­vi­ous se­ries fo­cused purely on the fig­ures, Tham in­tro­duces more ar­chi­tec­tural and back­ground de­tails in Beauty Be­hind The Mad­ness, a 12-piece se­ries, which sees her grow­ing as an artist.

So are the larger pieces also meant to help fill up the cav­ernous G13 gallery space? In this ex­hi­bi­tion, she replies that size did not mat­ter to her as much as the con­tent and de­tails. Tham be­lieves that the added scenery – at times, hazy days – also pro­vides more sto­ries to the im­ages.

This new se­ries took her eight months to com­plete, con­sum­ing a lot of time in the stu­dio.

“The dif­fi­cult part is the per­spec­tive, I had to keep mea­sur­ing and re­fer­ring to the pho­tos to make sure it wasn’t sen­get (dis­torted),” she says.

Her choice work is Self Delu­sion, which de­picts a woman danc­ing in the view of a sur­real fog-coated Kuala Lumpur sky­line.

“It’s all very stress­ful for me liv­ing in the city, the streets and con­stant buzz of it. I’d want to run away and live in my own world,” says Tham who grew up in Ge­mas, a small town bor­der­ing Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan and Jo­hor.

She ad­mits though the big city can be in­tim­i­dat­ing, she still prefers the free­dom it gives her. To com­pen­sate, she re­treats into her work.

“My friends joke that I live in a cave when I do my projects, and worry I’ll for­get how to so­cialise.

“I pre­fer to stay home over go­ing to a party. Ev­ery time!” says Tham, the self-con­fessed in­tro­vert, with a gig­gle.

Yuki Tham’s Beauty Be­hind The Mad­ness is on at the G13 gallery, Block B, Ke­lana Square, Jalan SS7/26, Ke­lana Jaya in Se­lan­gor till July 28. The gallery is open Mon­day to Satur­day, from 11am to 5pm. Call 03-7880 0991. Visit: g13­gallery.com.

Tham’s Self Delu­sion (oil on can­vas, 2017) is one of the 12 new pieces in Beauty Be­hind The Mad­ness, her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion. — Pho­tos: G13

Pen­i­tent (oil on can­vas, 2017).

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