Familiar terrain

Group show bridges landscape diversity and thoughtful reflection.

 

It’s time to freshen things up by switching the scenery around. A landscape-themed exhibition currently showing at Core Design Gallery in Selangor is doing exactly that.

With familiar landscape scenes from childhood memories and our subconscious thrust into the limelight, the exhibition is in many ways a back-to-basics exercise in rediscovering how humankind and nature are intertwined.

The Grass is Greener on This Side show comprises 18 works from 13 artists – a mishmash of acrylic, and oil, prints, installations and collage, with some fancy effects from playing with fire thrown into the mix.

It marks Italian-born Benedetta Segala Ghani’s curatorial debut in Malaysia.

Married to Malaysian contemporary artist M. Shafarin Ghani (who has been with Core Design Gallery for the past four years, and is one of the participating artists in The Grass is Greener on This Side), Benedetta has been based in Kuala Lumpur for the past year or so.

She is an artist herself, having pursued her studies in fine arts in France, followed by over 10 solo exhibitions in Europe to date.

Benedetta describes the local art scene as effervescent – its lively dynamism spurring her to create and curate, providing her with lots of space to explore.

“The curiosity is as wide as the desire to expand horizons, and that has given me the opportunity to express my point of view as a foreigner, Italian, artist, curator as well as an adopted Malaysia,” she shares at Core’s gallery space.

Her take on this exhibition’s theme is wistful, almost romantic – she talks of the yearning for a natural world untouched and the memories of many lifetimes.

The shared artistic journey here is one that has been influenced by the artists’ appreciation of the natural environment, the energy passed down from one work to the next.

“My approach as the curator of this exhibition was inspired by the appreciation for landscape art and the necessity to raise some important issues, by reflecting on the importance of safeguarding the beauty and mysteries of Mother Nature, through art,”she says.

Benedetta adds that art is the “most powerful vehicle of emotion and free thinking”, a force that has been intricately linked with nature.

In the exhibition notes, she ponders on the ability of landscape art in unlocking human emotions and comments that it is perhaps our way to feel free and to appreciate who we really are.

The Grass is Greener on This Side came from the desire to host an exhibition dedicated to nature, and to do so from the perspective of a Malaysian. With works from 13 participating artists ranging from paintings to installations, the realistic to the abstract and symbolic, the perspectives are as varied as they come.

Husin Othman, who won the Most Promising Artist category at the 2014 UOB Painting of the Year awards, paints a childhood memory of a wooden walkway above water, connecting the door of a kampung house to the outside world. This piece links his present to his past, perhaps? The recognisable detail of Raja Lope Rasydi Raja Rozlan’s acrylic/airbrush/ink work is rampant on Realm of the Verticall Horizone. Here’s a piece that soars to the sky and while the artist loses himself in clouds of mist.

Meanwhile, Louise Low buries a man under sand and colourful bras in acrylic on canvas. Or maybe it is a man emerging from all that sand?

“The most intriguing thing about this exhibition is the myriad of ways used by the artists to interpret the landscape in a current context, and how this multitude can cohabit and express the same concept without repetition,” observes Benedetta.

“But they all share one important point: having the regenerative power of untouched nature as the focus of each work,” she adds.

“The exhibition is a tribute to life,” concludes Benedetta, adding that she hopes that this exhibition will contribute to the development of the artistic identity of the complex and fascinating culture that we call home.

So is the grass really greener on this side? Perhaps it is sufficient that it is green.

 

The Grass is Greener on This Side is on at Core Design Gallery (87, Jalan SS15/2A, Subang Jaya, Selangor) till March 12. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm, and on Weekends from 12pm to 6pm by appointment only. For more details, call 03-56121168 or visit malaysiacontemporaryart.coredesigngallery.com.

 

 

Written by: Rouwen Lin

Published by: Sunday Star2, The Star

Published on: February 15th 2015


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