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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Diversity of art at Contemporary Art VI

Posted: 04 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Art is a uniting force at the Contemporary Art VI exhibition, which features individuals from diverse backgrounds.

WHAT does a photographer, a sculptor, an embroiderer, an astrologer and several painters have in common? Ongoing exhibit Contemporary Art VI suggests the answer is, regardless of genre, it's the artists' love of the creative process that drives them forward and brings them together.

The title of the group exhibition, Contemporary Art VI, doesn't come from the fact it is the sixth in its series. Rather it refers to the six artists from various mediums who have come together for this exhibition.

The collection is on display at the trendy arts space d6, located in Sentul East Design Centre, Jalan Sentul in Kuala Lumpur. It features the work of Ben Toh, Gary Lim, Maxine Xie Xian Xin, Alice Yee Yuen Chin, Ellie Ng and Melissa Lin.

Toh had the idea for a group project with the other five artists whom he had worked with while curating a series of pop up exhibitions at The Refinery gallery across the road from d6.

"Curating other people's work made me want to go back into painting, too. After we were offered a space, it seemed like a good time to put something together with a few familiar faces," explains Toh, a graphic designer and photographer by profession.

"Nyonya In Red" by Ellie Ng, made using mixed media on canvas, combining various styles of embroidery and paint. The painting is part of a group collection which is on display at Contemporary VI exhibit at d6, Sentul East in Kuala Lumpur.

Intricate beauty: Nyonya In Red by Ellie Ng, made using mixed media on canvas, combining various styles of embroidery and paint. The painting is part of a group collection which is on display at Contemporary VI exhibit at d6, Sentul East in Kuala Lumpur.

His contribution to the collection, the One Tree series, marks his first foray in painting after a 30-year break. Toh reveals the set of 10 oil paintings were done all in a span of a month last October.

"It's not that I'm prolific, you could say I'm brushing up on my brush technique," he jokes. Like its title, the One Tree series features a single tree in various settings from an empty field, giving shade to an abandoned bicycle or plunked in a surreal magenta tinted world.

A frequent collaborator of Toh, Gary Lim also chose to feature his oil paintings. His Joyscape series uses calligraphy brush style to create a feeling of energy and freedom that almost jumps of the canvas.

"I wanted to give a sense of freedom, of flowing energy through the flexible strokes of calligraphy. That is reflective of life, how we need to be flexible when dealing with challenges and not stick to rigid straight lines," he explains during a recent interview. He adds that "joy" and "freedom" were one and the same to him, as a person requires one to experience the other.

Lim admits that though he has been painting for 15 years, he only became serious about it about two years back.

"I came to realise it's something I have to do before I die. Some people travel, I paint," he says.

'Joyscape' by Gary Lim is part of his abstract series made using calligraphy brush strokes to convey a feeling of freedom and joy.

Joyscape by Gary Lim employs his use of calligraphy brush strokes to convey the feelings of freedom and joy.

For landscape painter Alice Yee Yuen Chin, it was travel that inspired her to paint. During a holiday to Pangkor Island in Perak, Yee was so moved by what she saw that she attempted to commit it to canvas. That started her love affair with painting the sea and skies.

The result of that love, her Skyscapes and Seascapes series, are both on display at Contemporary Art VI.

"I love how the sky reflects the sea and vice versa. It is particularly beautiful at sunrise, when the sun seems to link the two bodies," shares Yee, as she points to several of her favourites which feature the rising sun.

The idea of love for one's art was a running theme among those featured in the collection.

Maxine Xie Xian Xin, who came from a background in advertising, returned to sculpting after she followed her heart to the Netherlands and had the chance to fall in love again with art. The daughter of a carpenter, Xie picked up the craft by literally picking up leftover wood and paint from her father's workshop and seeing how it could translate her imagination into something physical.

Nowadays she works primarily in clay and wood, under the moniker Magical Maxine, doing what she calls "making something special from the mundane".

Her clay sculptures and busts as pottery add to the diversity of the collection which also includes mixed media embroidery/paintings by Ellie Ng and abstract paintings by Melissa Lin.

Ng describes her mix media piece Nyonya In Red as updated version of Scents Of Mandala, one of her first pieces from her college art student days.

She reveals that the nyonya's baju kurung was made using a collage of lace and jewellery while her make-up was painted on, in a case of art imitating life.

"I use textile and fashion elements a lot in my work. As an art teacher, I find it's a good chance to practice what I teach and show my students what can be done with the medium," she says.

Elsewhere, the intriguing Lin describes her work as the combination of her travels, her interactions with her astrology clients, and a cathartic release.

"For me, painting is an organic process: I begin start working on it, then see what the art says to me and from there I take the next step. There's actually not much planning involved," she concludes.

The Contemporary Art VI group exhibition is showing at d6, Sentul East, 801, Jalan Sentul, in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur till Jan 12. The gallery opens 11am-4pm on weekends, viewing on weekdays is by appointment. Contact Ben Toh (012-205 0716) or Gary Lim (012-218 8851) to make an appointment.

Istana Budaya sets the stage for 2014

Posted: 04 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Musicals dominate in this year's programme.

ISTANA Budaya (IB) will offer a cultural smorgasbord of sorts for its 2014 season, with a whole bunch of pop and rock singers, Broadway musicals, classical music, plays and dance extravaganzas gracing the stage.

Never has there been so much variety offered by Malaysia's premiere performing arts venue, which opened in 1999.

The headliners are Grammy award-winning American singer-songwriters Bruno Mars and Ne-yo who will present An Evening With Bruno Mars And Ne-yo on May 29. Expect to hear hits such as Marry You, Grenade, Let Me Love You, and Because Of You.

Ne-Yo has written songs for R&B's biggest stars, including Beyonce, Rihanna and Usher, while Mars is responsible for hits from Cee Lo Green, B.o.B and Flo Rida.

Both artistes have performed separately in Kuala Lumpur before.

The award-winning musical

High on harmony: The award-winning musical Jersey Boys, which tells the colourful story of US pop group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, makes its Malaysian debut at Istana Budaya in April.

Locally, the legendary papa rock, Ramli Sarip will belt it out in Konsert 45 Tahun Seniman Ramli Sarip (Oct 17-19). As the frontman of the Singapore-based rock group Sweet Charity, Ramli is a much loved rocker with an illustrious solo career his name.

Kicking off the season is evergreen singer Salamiah Hassan in her first solo concert, Konsert Gelombang Salamiah Hassan (Jan 10-12). Produced by Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman, the concert, her first since her career began, will see Aubrey Suwito as music director, Raja Malek as art director and Pat Ibrahim as director of performance.

The songstress hit the spotlight in the 1970s when she entered RTM's Bakat TV talent show in 1971 and caught the eye of composer Datuk Ahmad Nawab. Since then, she has cut several albums, sung in nightclubs and sang jingles for television commercials, earning her the title Jingle Queen in the 1980s.

Musicals tend to cut the generation divide hence fans can look forward to an entertaining time in the coming months.

According to IB director-general, Datuk Juhari Shaarani, the international musicals are intended to draw in tourists, in line with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

"We're also getting big names from Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia to cater for a wider audience and to attract fans from the region," he said at the unveiling of the 2014 programme here recently. "Some producers promise all kinds of things but pull out last minute and there is nothing we can do about it. Last year, 14 productions pulled out so we give preference to groups who have a good record with us."

Ramli Sarip is set to roll back the years with his 'Konsert 45 Tahun Seniman Ramli Sarip' series in October.

Ramli Sarip is set to roll back the years with his Konsert 45 Tahun Seniman Ramli Sarip series in October.

To ensure producers keep to their word, they are now required to place a deposit to book the performance dates so the chances of withdrawing are less. IB recorded ticket sales of a little more than RM9mil for 2013 through 33 musical, theatre and dance performances.

Among the blockbuster musicals are Jersey Boys (April 10-20), Mystic India (Aug 15-24) and Mamma Mia (Dec 15-25), which makes a return.

Jersey Boys traces the story of four blue-collar kids who became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. The musical, winner of the Best Musical Tony Award on Broadway, in London and Australia, takes the audience up the charts, across the country and behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Featuring enchanting music, spectacular aerials and perfectly synchronised movement, Mystic India journeys from ancient India through present, bringing Bollywood tradition to life.

Making a return after a sold-out concert in 2008 is Mamma Mia. Set on a colourful Greek island, the plot serves as a background for a wealth of Abba songs.

A young woman is about to be married and discovers that any one of three men could be her father. She invites all three to the wedding without telling her mother, Donna, who was once the lead singer of Donna and the Dynamos.

Other musicals include Suara Kita (March 3-9), featuring Awie, Erra Fazira dan Ziana Zain; Indonesian production Matah Ati (April 25-27); Rejang Sebuah Muzikal, which revolves around the inhabitants along the Rejang River in Sarawak; and Xuan Zhuang - A Journey To The West The Musical (Oct 27-Nov 9).

Although not yet in the calendar, rumours are abound that P. Ramlee The Musical will also be restaged sometime this year.

Music-wise, look out for Konsert Orkestra Tradisional Malaysia Bersama Bintang (Jan 24), which showcases Datuk Jeffrydin, Datuk A. Rahman Hassan, Datuk L. Ramlie and A. Halim; Hands Percussion's The Next (Jan 21-23), featuring guitarist Man Kidal and Taiwanese aboriginal singer Sangpuy Katetapan; Konsert Gemersik Ahmad Jais Dalam Kenangan (Aug 28-31); Asia Pacific Electone Festival (Sept 27) and An Evening With James Bond (Nov 14-15).

Other highlights include a theatre adaptation of Indonesian novelist Hamka's Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah featuring actors Adi Putra, Izzue Islam, Erra Fazira and Ziela Jalil (May 9-18). Also expected to stir the audience are Teater Projek Kahwin (June 6-14) and Teater Isabella (June 21-27) starring Aaron Aziz.

Dance lovers can look forward to the International Ballet Gala 2014 (Aug 9-10), Inspitari (Oct 10-11), Yunnan Showcase (Nov 21-23) and Dramatari Gema Zafana (Dec 5-7).

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