Focus on New Art
The Great Malaysian Contemporary Art Show brings together talented and critically acclaimed contemporary Malaysian artists for a second year in Art Expo 2014.
The art show, popularly referred to as GMCA, hopes to foster the concept of handpicking artists based on their critical value and showcase a manner of mediums from painting to installation.
Curated jointly by Artcube and Core Design Gallery, it also seeks to provide documentation and context on the art shown, thus creating an environment which allows the public to appreciate and connect with the immense local talent.
Last year’s GMCA saw 13 artists, exhibited by Core Design Gallery and curated by Farouk Khan.
This year’s show focuses on contemporary Malaysian artists ranging from established to mid-career to emerging.
Disparities in critical acclaim and commercial success may be attributed to the fact that critical artists tend to make avant garde art.
Working ahead of their time, these pieces appeal to a more developed and sophisticated art palate as opposed to decorative art, which tends to find quick success locally.
Casting away the idea of equating art to pretty pictures means the GMCA is a much-needed platform in which artists can express themselves and show the types of works which have garnered them international fame.
One such example is with the artist Zulkifli Yusoff. Zulkifli is one of the foremost installation artists in the country.
The lack of a local platform has led to Zulkifli exhibiting his key works outside of the country, but the curatorial vision of the GMCA now provides a local arena. So, check out his latest large-scale installation, The Green Book.
A piece from his series on Tun Abdul Razak’s speeches, it covers aspects of economics, politics and society within a Malaysian context.
Similar parallels can be drawn in the careers of Tan Chin Kuan and Eng Hwee Chu.
Tan, an artist whose repertoire encompasses painting, sculpture, performance and installation, is well-known among curators and critics both in Malaysia and abroad.
The critical endorsement from his plethora of awards and exhibits has Tan a place in museums such a Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan, the Singapore Art Museum and the National Art Gallery Malaysia.
At the GMCA 2014, Tan has found a space to present an artwork which fits in with this ethos of producing shockingly impressive art, to upset complacency and engage viewers in debate.
Eng, Tan’s wife, is impressive in her own right. She is often described as a “Malaysian Frida Kahlo” for her surreal paintings filled with reflections of herself.
Equally exciting are the works of Fauzin Mustafa and Mohd Noor Mahmud. These established artists demonstrate not only thorough understanding of fine art’s formalistic tenants but also innate understanding of the framework of Malay cultural identity.
Both work in mixed media, demonstrating real flair for building up textural surfaces with the use of materials traditional and non-traditional materials such as cut canvas, batik, acrylic, sand and glue.
Hearty helpings of references to symbols such as calligraphy, batik and Malay poetry render them as key players in bringing culture into forums of contemporary discourse and thus they are known as important visual documenters of heritage in a rapidly developing environment.
The GMCA introduces audiences to all genres of fine art, and the plethora would not be complete without the inclusion of ceramic art. Malaysia boasts the foremost contemporary ceramic artist of South East Asia – Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail.
Years of dedication to her careful craft have endowed Umibaizurah with a dexterity within her chosen medium, and she utilises her gift to create enchantingly beautiful pieces that invoke desire within viewers. She shares her knowledge and skills with the emerging generation of young artists, and her apprentice Al-Khuzairie Ali takes his place at the GMCA as the torchbearer for a new generation of ceramic artists.
Juxtaposing masculine elements such as mechanical forms with the delicacy of porcelain and stoneware, Al-Khuzairie proffers deeply philosophical ruminations in sleek, sculptural forms.
The journey of discovery at the GMCA is enhanced by the inclusion of a wide selection of young artists. The experimental nature of these young artists is now openly displayed collectively in one space, thus showing a cross-section of recent developments within the younger generation.
It is said that art history today is being written by exhibitions. Indeed, exhibitions now form an important stage on which contemporary art can be articulated and positioned.
Curation from the private sector is key at this time as well, as museums are obliged to highlight and curate largely from their own institutional collections.
By holding the GMCA 2014 at Art Expo, the show reaches out to the people.
Catch the show from September 25-28 at the Matrade exhibition and convention centre, KL.
By: Subhadra Devan
Publication: Malay Mail
Date of publication: 10 September 2014