Ur­ban con­nect

Tales From The City is a stim­u­lat­ing ex­hi­bi­tion of city life in two coun­tries.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART - By TER­ENCE TOH [email protected] thes­tar. com. my

G13 GALLERY’s latest ex­hi­bi­tion Tales From

The City is a tes­ta­ment to the bond be­tween neigh­bours. This is not just from the art per­spec­tive – the show fea­tures Malaysian and Filipino artists.

There is a cool story be­hind the neigh­bourly con­nec­tions. Cu­ra­tor and G13 gallery owner Kenny Teng said he first met rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Manila- based Tin- aw Art Gallery dur­ing an art show in Hong Kong last year.

“We hap­pened to have neigh­bour­ing art booths. Af­ter a brief in­tro­duc­tion, we came up with an idea. Why not we do a cross- coun­try art show? G13 Gallery would host, and we would have three artists from Tin- aw here,” re­veals Teng, be­fore adding, “The idea was to com­bine six artists, two coun­tries in one show!”

The re­sult is Tales From The City, the latest ex­hi­bi­tion at the G13 Art Gallery in Ke­lana Jaya, Pe­tal­ing Jaya in Se­lan­gor. This ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures the art of three artists from Malaysia ( Gan Sze Hooi, Gan Tee Sheng and Khairudin Zainudin) and three Filipino artists ( Fran­cis Com­meyne, Kirby Roxas and Kurt Lluch).

The show, ac­cord­ing to Teng, ex­plores the cul­tural com­plex­i­ties of ur­ban liv­ing in Malaysia and the Philip­pines.

“We have a lot in com­mon. This ex­hi­bi­tion talks about things that both coun­tries go through. Things like ur­ban­i­sa­tion, the hu­man ex­o­dus from towns to cities, city liv­ing, sur­vival in the city, ar­chi­tec­ture, so­cio- eco­nomic is­sues. We gave this frame­work to the artists, and we tried to choose, which of their works would fit in this di­rec­tion.”

This show will also travel to Manila next year.

The 18 works on dis­play at G13 now en­cap­su­late ev­ery as­pect of city liv­ing from com­merce and commercialisation to strug­gle and suc­cess.

The Filipino artists are also ex­hibit­ing in Malaysia for the first time. Com­meyne’s The

Amer­i­can Dream ( 2015) paint­ings show­case the ex­te­ri­ors of junk and re­pair shops, rep­re­sent­ing both the legacy of Amer­i­can coloni­sa­tion and the drive to suc­ceed.

Lluch’s brightly, coloured, al­most sur­real works such as Re­sis­tance, A Be­havioural

Study ( 2015) and An In­su­lar Welcome And An Evolv­ing As­sim­i­la­tion ( 2015), re­call ur­ban graf­fiti at its most strik­ing. And Roxas’s works, such as Rovers and Ter­mi­nal, both from 2015, fea­ture trav­ellers with suit­cases. His acrylic paint­ings are made up to re­sem­ble dig­i­tal prints, in a dou­ble il­lus­tra­tion of hu­man mi­gra­tion to­wards moder­nity and de­vel­op­ment.

The Malaysian artists are just as in­ter­est­ing. Tee Sheng’s paint­ings, for ex­am­ple, fo­cus on the hu­man side of city life, with his por­traits Malay Old Man, Chi­nese Old Man and

In­dian Old Man. The Klu­ang, Jo­hor- born artist’s ex­pres­sive brush­work cap­tures both the world- weari­ness and wis­dom con­tained in the fea­tures of his sub­jects, invit­ing us to con­tem­plate their lives.

“These are all old peo­ple you wouldn’t pay much no­tice to if you passed them in the street. I hope that my works can en­cour­age us to pay more at­ten­tion to the peo­ple we en­counter,” says Tee Sheng, 31, speak­ing in Man­darin, dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view with the Malaysian artists.

Tee Sheng’s new works look like a solid fol­low- up to his first solo show With­drawn in Kuala Lumpur last year.

While Tee Sheng’s work is more re­al­is­tic, Sze Hooi’s art, on the other hand, is more al­le­gor­i­cal, touch­ing on so­cial is­sues and cur­rent af­fairs. His paint­ings The Gi­ant Judge and The Gi­ant Po­lice­man fea­ture tow­er­ing fig­ures of au­thor­ity con­tained in ur­ban struc­tures, in a com­men­tary on law and jus­tice.

“This is a watch­tower in the west of Kuala Lumpur. It’s very beau­ti­ful, and the spikes on the roof re­minded me of a crown. It inspired my imag­i­na­tion: this build­ing should have a judge,” saysSze Hooi, 37, who also made an im­pres­sion with his solo ex­hi­bi­tion Rev­e­la­tion Of Jalan Sultan in Kuala Lumpur last De­cem­ber.

“As we know, what the judge says is law. But the build­ing is about to be de­mol­ished: jus­tice is go­ing down.” The artist also con­trib­uted another work,

Into The Jail, which is set in the now- de­mol­ished Pudu Prison, the trip­tych folds open into a vast land­scape fea­tur­ing po­lice­men, in­mates, protesters and jour­nal­ists alike.

“I hope that like a door, my art can open the way for peo­ple to be more aware of what is go­ing on all around us,” says Sze Hooi.

The Ba­chok, Ke­lan­tan- born Khairudin’s work Pa­dat Te­tapi Ter­susun adds the in­flu­ences of another coun­try into the mix: Hong Kong. The artist, 28, re­veals that the over­lap­ping box shapes at the top of the can­vas were inspired by his trip to the coun­try’s Mongkok dis­trict.

“Those boxes are sug­ges­tions of sign­boards . In Hong Kong, there were sign­boards ev­ery­where. They looked a mess. But they were ac­tu­ally ar­ranged well ... it’s as if they had been au­dited!” says the artist, who first put his art on show at his Senyap

Dalam Gege ex­hi­bi­tion at G13 last year. “No mat­ter what an­gle you look from, you would be able to see all of them clearly, even if they there is an over­lap,” he adds.

In­deed, over­lap­ping fig­ures seems to be a ma­jor theme in his work. This can clearly be seen in his other paint­ings, such as

Ki­taran and Pagi Hari Yang Su­ram. A rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the hus­tle and the bus­tle of the city per­haps, or the or­der- in- chaos of ur­ban liv­ing?

In Pada Hari Yang Su­ram, two con­trast­ing colours are used to il­lus­trate the ironies of a cor­po­rate lifestyle.

“Ev­ery morn­ing in the city, it’s a beau­ti­ful day, with the sun shin­ing. And de­spite this, these peo­ple are sad. I used to have a job like that – go to work in the morn­ing, come back at night, over and over again. The emo­tions are in the colours. The yel­low is for the bright­ness of day, while the grey is the con­trast,” sums up Khairudin.

tales From the City is on the G13 Gallery, GL13, Ground Floor, Block B, Ke­lana Square, Jalan SS7/ 26, Ke­lana Jaya, Pe­tal­ing Jaya in Se­lan­gor un­til aug 15. the gallery is open from 11am – 5pm, Mon­days to Satur­days. ad­mis­sion is free. For more info, call 03- 7880 0991 or email [email protected] g13­gallery.com.

1 2 3 1 gan tee Sheng’s Malay Old Man ( oil on can­vas, 2015). 2 Fran­cis Com­meyne’s The Amer­i­can DreamJunk Shop, ( ar­cylic on can­vas, 2015). 3 gan Sze Hooi’s The In­mate ( oil on can­vas, 2015). — Photos: g13 gallery

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