Bringing beauty back

The year-end brings with it abundant opportunities to appreciate the finest artworks from around the region.

Soya Cincau

Artist: Various

Date: Nov 7 – Dec 15

Venue: Core Design Gallery – 87, Jalan SS15/2a, SS15, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor.


If you think of genuine art appreciation as a quixotic pursuit solely reserved for the rarified circles of the beat cafe elite, there’s a pleasant surprise waiting for you. That surprise is Soya Cincau, a startlingly warm, yet thought-provoking group sacrificing the depth one would expect from some of the brightest talents of this generation.

Guest-curated by Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, the exhibit is hosted by Core Design Gallery, a discreet double-story house turned gallery located in the heart of Subang Jaya, opposite Subang Avenue. Tastefully constructed with an eye for lighting balance and open spaces, its interior is uniquely suited to teasing the minutest nuances of meaning out of Soya Cincau’s collected works.

“We started Core Design four years ago with the vision of representing contemporary Malaysian artists, and to bring a certain excitement to the local art industry. Currently, we’re looking closely at what it means to curate an art show, which is why we brought in Ali for Soya Cincau,” says Core Design director Scarlette Lee.

“The exhibit is definitely quirky, and it’s very representative of Malaysians in that sense. We wanted to go back to our roots, hence the black-and-white theme. However, monochrome may seem simple but it actually forces the artist to express himself solely through lines and structures.”

Running the gamut from oils and acrylics on canvas to mixed media installations, essays from 14 contemporary names are represented, including Annabelle Ng, Ashriq Suddin, Azrin Mohd, Chuah Shu Ruei, Haafiz Shahimi, Husin Hourmain, Husin Othman, Jamil Zakaria, Mohd Azlan Mohd Latib, Muhammad Nazri Tahir, Raja Lope Rasydi and Shafarin Ghani.

Organising and curating the exhibit within three months was a challenge for Ali, particularly as it represented a departure in technique for many of the participating artists. A realist by nature, Ali challenged himself with the creation of his first mixed media piece, A for Epal, which explores familial themes in conjunction with The Goodfather, a delightful riff on Marlon Brando’s immortal La Cosa Nostra patriarch.

“Each talent has his or her own style, fully half on our roster are typically associated with more conventional approaches. I think many art lovers will be surprised by how we reacted and adapted by Soya Cincau’s themes and the contemporary mindset as a whole, and how we updated ourselves to reflect current thinking,” says Ali.

In challenging traditional perspectives on photography, Mohd Azlan juxtaposes art with science by processing his exposures through x-ray tubes. A diagnostic radiographer with Health Scan Malaysia by trade, his Symphony of Destruction triptych uses photogram collages to address questions of memory, life and death through the lens of his Kiev 60 TTL.

A more personal approach to Soya Cincau’s theme is seen in Annabelle Ng’s My Thoughts Running Series II, representing nothing less than an uncompromising examination of the artist’s bared mind. Bringing together drawings, paintings and representaion of found items between expanses of parchment and fabric, the whole is preserved between sheets of perspex like a moment in time.

It’s about emotion, and the rhythm of sound and music. I do a lot of experiments with materials, particularly in layering and textures, reflecting the feelings we experience. From my point of view, when speaking about black and white, the contrast between the two sides of the piece fades into grey, suggesting neutrality.” says Ng.

Other notable works include Husin Hourmain’s Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia, a frank exposition on spirituality, Raja’s Lope La Principessa della Luna, an endearing take on the origin of the Mind-Autumn Festival in Chinese tradition, and Haafiz’s Sleeping Beauty, a breathtaking large-format meditation on transitional states, which showcases his unique pyrographic approach and arguably forms the centrepiece of the exhibit.



Written by: Aliff Yusri

Published by: Opulence, Focus Malaysia

Issue No 2; Week: Dec 6 – 12 2014.


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