From the start of the pandemic until recently, many of us have forgotten what the art and cultural world was like before or at least, many of us are trying our best to preserve what we already have. Myself included. In fact for me, there was not much to remember to begin with. While it is upsetting, there is also a newfound perspective and appreciation of local events, festivals and in this case, art exhibitions that showcases the works of our local creators. Both online and offline, of course.
Over the years, Malaysia’s art scene has grown tenfold. Art doesn’t necessarily have to be confined to the walls of a prestigious gallery or space or is reduced to canvases as one would often think but it is all around us; around our city, around our people, around our ideas in various forms and mediums. It is for everyone by everyone that makes Malaysia the colourful, charismatic country that it is.
Here enters the ILHAM Art Show 2022 beginning from the 17th of May until 23rd October 2022 that explores complex narratives from personal to political and from the historical to the conceptual. This art show highlights 31 Malaysian artists from inter-generational age, both emerging and well-known artists alike, of their contemporary works addressing various subjects – histories, time, imagined worlds and many others.
These artists include: Azizan Paiman, Azzaha Ibrahim, BlankMalaysia, CC Kua, Chang Yoong Chia, Cheng Yen Pheng, Chong Yan Chuah, Dhavinder Singh, Dipali Gupta, Eddie Wong, Engku Iman, Haffendi Anuar, Haris Abadi, Hasanul Isyraf Idris, Hoo Fan Chon, Ivan Lam, Izat Arif, Kamal Sabran, Kim, Kumpulan Ukir Kite’ Kelab Kebudayaan Mah Meri, Leon Leong, Mimi Aslinda, Minstrel Kuik, Pangrok Sulap, Samsuddin Wahab, Sharon Chin, Tan Kian Ming, Tan Zi Hao, Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi, Tin & Theyvapaalan S Jayaratnam, and Yeoh Choo Kuan.
Yes, 31 of them.
Upon arriving, there was already a line forming to enter. Luckily, the line moved rather quickly and soon enough, I was able to enjoy the vibrant showcase. You would be given a booklet that not only holds all the necessary information about the pieces but also a map to help you navigate. Even so, I was too excited, not knowing where to start. Eventually, I began with the beautiful gouache pieces of ‘Stilt Houses – The Floating World of Kampung Baru’ by Kuala Lumpur artist, Leon Leong.
From Kedah artist CC Kua’s ‘Everybody Has A Chance’ set of coloured pencil on paper pieces to Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi’s ‘Evil Begone, Keep and Tend to Yours Truly’ compilation of abstract drawings that creates a ‘undulating landscape’ pattern, ILHAM Art Show 2022 was a dynamic experience. Having read their inspirations and thoughts behind their pieces made me self-reflect on my own experiences during the pandemic and now.
With ‘Everybody Has A Chance’, CC Kua explored the lives of her coloured pencils. What I particularly loved about these pieces was how simple yet profound they were.
“The whole purpose is not showing how ‘well’ I can compose a picture, but how I can help the coloured pencils to show themselves”, stated Kua.
That single line alone humbled my perspective as a person, reminding me, as the title suggests, that everybody has a chance.
Another piece everyone at the exhibition seemed to enjoy was Sharon Chin’s ‘Rich Country’. Now, her little pieces were everywhere yet not at all. You would see these 300 small intaglio prints that depict 30 different soil microorganisms sprinkled all over the gallery, just as how microorganisms live around us!
Each little print was unique; some had repetitive stripes while others had multiple legs. There were rounded husks and shell-like bodies or rough edges. If you often get an icky feeling at our creepy crawly friends, this might just change your mind.
Her installation can only be seen in the company of other artworks, a beautiful intricate As she said, “Long life to the rich country beneath – and between – us!”
‘When the land Tortoise Meets the Sea Turtle Test Fly: I Believe I Can Fly’ by Cheng Yen Peng was a sight to behold. This suspended installation using wires and bright fabrics of sorts help illustrate this feeling of airiness. It was quite mesmerising if I do say so myself, and I’m sure many would agree as it took a while for some of us to break away from it.
In this piece, Cheng explored the relationship between the wau of Terengganu and the monsoons, and how this all links to the way of life of the locals there.
“In the process of testing a wau to fly, there are often more failed attempts than successful ones. Despite the failures, each test is a valuable and precious experience.”
As I reached the end, the line had multiplied itself with eager faces. Many were lining up to also take their tour. I hope these few pieces are able to convince you to quickly find the time and treat yourself (& your loved ones) to an artistic experience that is ILHAM Art Show 2022. Don’t forget to stop by the ILHAM gift shop before you go and check out some amazing products by none other than our local creatives.