The Star Malaysia - Star2

Il­lu­sion of con­trol

Artist ex­plores the fluid con­cept of change.

- By ROUWEN LIN star2@ thes­tar.com.my In­ured ends to­mor­row at Minut Init Art So­cial, Da­mansara Up­town, Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Se­lan­gor. Open: 8.30pm daily. Call 019 697 8897 or 017- 644 6202. Visit: www. face­book. com/ minut. init for more info. Arts · Petaling Jaya

WHEN things spiral out of con­trol, it of­ten ends up be­ing a disas­ter. But James Ly has made “out of con­trol” his friend, and he has a whole ex­hi­bi­tion to show for it.

His first solo, with its ex­is­tence hing­ing on un­pre­dictabil­ity as much as the act of let­ting go and al­low­ing na­ture to run its course, is on now at Minut Init Art So­cial, an art space he co- founded in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, till to­mor­row.

Aptly ti­tled In­ured ( in­ure: ac­cus­tom some­one to some­thing that is of­ten un­pleas­ant), the ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores the con­cept of change, its im­pli­ca­tions, and the fact that it is out of our con­trol. It is a topic that is all the more rel­e­vant now in our rapidly- chang­ing in­ter­net world, where his­tory can be eas­ily rewrit­ten at the touch of a but­ton and passed off as the “truth” ... only un­til it is su­per­seded by a new ver­sion.

“Change is hap­pen­ing faster than be­fore and the way in which we com­mu­ni­cate has evolved so much. It may be more ef­fi­cient, but some­how also more am­bigu­ous and less ro­man­tic,” says Ly, 31.

It might be in­evitable that change hap­pens, but its ef­fect upon us of­ten de­pends on how we re­act to it.

“A wise sage once said to stay rigid is to wel­come death, so we need to em­brace change and adapt. For ex­am­ple, we can­not con­trol the weather, but we can make de­ci­sions on how to sur­vive or adapt to it,” he adds.

Ly’s back­ground in tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing, mul­ti­me­dia de­sign and an­i­ma­tion shows in this ex­hibit.

On the il­lu­sion of be­ing in con­trol, Ly is con­vinced that more of­ten than not, that is all it is – an il­lu­sion.

“I feel the sub­con­scious has a way of in­ter­ven­ing. We think we are in con­trol, but we are re­ally not.”

Th­ese sen­ti­ments are re­flected in how he cre­ated this se­ries of work, com­pris­ing 14 works, in­clud­ing two sculp­tures and an in­stal­la­tion. The ap­pli­ca­tion of a mix of dif­fer­ent paints us­ing vary­ing tech­niques on can­vas, and then al­low­ing the paint to form an im­age on its own, is, in some way, a demon­stra­tion of the am­bi­gu­ity of our no­tions of con­trol and non- con­trol.

“The work process in­volves a lot of at­tun­ing to cir­cum­stances as I don’t have a fin­ished idea in mind. I am wholly de­pen­dant on the alchemy of the ma­te­ri­als and I de­pend on in­tu­ition to tell me when it is fin­ished,” he shares of his paint­ings, which are pre­dom­i­nantly crafted in a soft pink, blue and chrome, with a flu­o­res­cent base to them.

Ly pours paint on each cor­ner of the can­vas, al­low them to flow to­wards each other, then pours wa­ter over it. Next, he sprin­kles plas­ter onto the wa­ter. They swirl and mix in the paint and wa­ter, and then he fin­ishes up with spray paint.

It sure sounds repet­i­tive, but sur­prises lie even in the ev­ery­day.

“I might ini­ti­ate the first move of pour­ing the paint but chance will de­ter­mine how the paint will fall on the can­vas, and af­ter that the jour­ney be­gins,” he ex­plains.

For in­stance, # Re­vival and # Waveafter­wave didn’t go as he ex­pected.

“The plas­ter that was laid on cracked and fell,” he re­lated, “so I had to adapt to that change. I had to think of how to use th­ese shat­tered pieces and some­how make it work.”

He scat­tered them and poured on more paint in the hopes that it would all gel to­gether, both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively.

“The risk paid off, it re­sulted in an au­then­tic­ity to the work that I could never have ex­pected,” he says.

As for the slightly grim- sound­ing ti­tle, he be­lieves that it is in­deed hu­man na­ture to re­sist change, un­less one is en­light­ened to its ben­e­fits.

“On the other hand, it is also hu­man na­ture to spark rev­o­lu­tion,” he says, adding that the un­der­ly­ing mes­sage in this ex­hi­bi­tion is to re­main op­ti­mistic and find the pos­i­tives within the changes hap­pen­ing around us and move along to the rhythm.

“We should never go against the grain, but rather flow like wa­ter. Changes are like rocks that stand in our way, but over time the wa­ter in the river can trans­form th­ese rocks into re­fined spec­i­mens,” he con­cludes.

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 ?? — Pho­tos: Minut Init Art So­cial ?? 1 Ly’s # Mid­week ( While The Band Was Re­hears­ing), which cap­tures the artist’s sense of rest­less­ness on can­vas.
2 # WaveAfter­Wave, which is fea­tured at Ly’s solo ex­hi­bi­tion In­ured at Minut Init Art So­cial in Pe­tal­ing Jaya.
— Pho­tos: Minut Init Art So­cial 1 Ly’s # Mid­week ( While The Band Was Re­hears­ing), which cap­tures the artist’s sense of rest­less­ness on can­vas. 2 # WaveAfter­Wave, which is fea­tured at Ly’s solo ex­hi­bi­tion In­ured at Minut Init Art So­cial in Pe­tal­ing Jaya.

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