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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Cut to perfection: Matisse's shear artistry celebrated at Tate Modern

Posted: 19 Apr 2014 01:05 AM PDT

London's Tate Modern is set to open a highly anticipated exhibition celebrating the cut-outs of French artist Henri Matisse, which made even Picasso jealous.

Tate Modern director Nicholas Serota boasts that the much-anticipated show, entitled simply Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs which brings together more than 100 works from around the world, "will be the most evocative and beautiful show that London has ever seen".

Of the vibrant cut-outs, Serota said: "People sometimes say these could be done by a child, but it's only an old man that has this incredible freedom of mind."

"It's a show for the summer," said Times critic Rachel Campbell-Johnson, one of many British experts enchanted by the explosion of colours in the old power station. Tate Modern is translated into a sunlit studio in the south of France," she wrote.

Exhibition curator Nicholas Cullinan took five years to gather the cuttings, which include four of the artist's iconic Blue Nudes and mock-ups of stained glass windows for the Chapel of the Rosary in the French town of Vence.

French artist Henri Matisse photographed against one of his cut-outs towards the end of his life. 

One of Matisse's most recognised artworks, the iconic Blue Nude II, made in 1952. The artist passed away in 1954.

At the end of his life, ravaged by disease and confined to a wheelchair, Matisse became more and more interested in the technique of cutting until scissors finally replaced brushes as his favourite tool.

A film shown in the exhibition shows the artist in his studio, eagerly cutting coloured gouache paper before composing the final works, sometimes huge, with the help of assistants.

"Most artists towards the ends of their life often develop something they call a 'late style'. If you think about people like Titian or Rembrandt or Monet, as painters their work became more gestural. But what Matisse instead did was to develop an entirely different medium," Cullinan told AFP.

Matisse's new direction impressed Picasso, who became jealous of the work when he came to visit his colleague's Nice studio, according to Cullinan.

"The last 15 years of his life, the works get larger, more ambitious, more joyful, more youthful and it gets better and better – it builds and builds and builds," said the curator.

"And I think he was very aware he was in a race against time to complete these works" before his death in 1954 at the age of 84. – AFP/RelaxNews

Colour that rubber! Using pop art to make safe sex cool in Kenya

Posted: 19 Apr 2014 12:30 AM PDT

A Kenyan NGO has teamed up with controversial artist Michael Soi for a campaign to spread safe sex awareness among youths – by putting his funky art on condoms.

The Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS), a Nairobi-based NGO, hopes to encourage condom use in Kenya through a new campaign and a new line of colourful condom wrappers designed by Kenyan artist Michael Soi.

Safe art: A Kenyan NGO and pop artist Michael Soi (seen at work in the photo below) teamed up to make funky, colourful condom wrappers as part of a campaign to encourage safe sex behaviour among local youths. 

After seeing a positive response to the concept on Facebook, the NGO is currently seeking funds to launch production of the condoms alongside a campaign to lessen the stigma associated with buying them.

The designs on the eye-catching wrappers are taken from paintings by Michael Soi, whose work is popular but also somewhat controversial in his home country. Unlike many of his fellow Kenyans, Soi does not hesitate to approach the taboo subject of sex in his work.

"Most people are actually very afraid of going to vendors in supermarkets and chemists to buy condoms because we are a fairly reserved society," explains Genevieve Imbali, communications and marketing officer at CAFS, in conversation with CNN.

"Most people aren't very open to the idea that very young people might walk into a shop just to buy condoms because nobody wants to be known to be having sex. There is so much stigma associated with condom purchase in the country," Imballi added.

The initial range of condom wrappers featuring Michael Soi's art, available for sale online via donation to the campaign's crowdfunding page. 

The NGO has its work cut out for it. To reach its goals of attracting the attention of young people with the funky, arty condoms, CAFS aims to finance its project through the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo. The goal is to raise US$10,000 (RM32,415) by May 4. – AFP/RelaxNews

Celebrating the unsung heroes of performing arts

Posted: 17 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Winners of the 11th Boh Cameronian Arts Technical Arts Awards.

Tuesday afternoon isn't exactly a glamorous day or time to be handing out awards. But local artists seemed unfazed as they arrived at Wondermama in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur for the 11th Boh Cameronian Arts Technical Arts Awards ceremony.

The Technical Arts Awards ceremony is part of the Boh Cameronian Arts Technical Awards, an annual event organised by online arts magazine Kakiseni to honour the best dance, music, musical theatre and theatre performances from the previous year. 

The Technical Arts Awards was introduced in 2012 to recognise unsung heroes who have worked tirelessly behind the production scenes or scripts. Present at the event was National Department for Culture and Arts director-general Datuk Norliza Rofli.

At the ceremony, seven awards were handed out for outstanding achievements in light, set, sound as well as costume, styling and make-up in the dance, theatre and musical categories. Each winner walked away with an award and RM1,000. 

The biggest winner was Terence Conrad of TerryandTheCuz who clinched two awards – Best Lightning Design and Best Set Design for Flatland, under the dance category. 

While humbled, Conrad felt honoured that his work on Flatland – described as "a multifaceted stage experience combining strong dance language with equally effective audio-visual design" – has been recognised by his peers.

Cheah Ui Hua plays Archduke Duncan in Eugene Ionesco's MacBett. The production won Best Costume Design Styling and Make-Up for Siti Farrah Abdullah, a costume planner.

Cheah Ui Hua plays Archduke Duncan in Eugene Ionesco's MacBett. The production won Best Costume Design Styling and Make-Up for Siti Farrah Abdullah, a costume planner.

"It's a pleasant surprise and I'm happy that the hard work has paid off. Flatland is a satirical novel set during the English Victorian era. To incorporate creative elements into the set design, we worked closely with choreographer Suhaili Micheline and dancers to bring out the best of the dance presentation," said Conrad. 

It was equally a happy event for stage actress-turned-costume planner Siti Farrah Abdullah, who won Best Costume Design Styling and Make-Up (theatre category) for Romanian playwright Eugene Lonesco's Macbett based on playwright Tanya Ronder's 2007 adaptation of Ionesco's play originally written in the 1970s.

Perhaps it was Siti's avant garde approach to the costumes, featuring black leather, metals and dark materials, that made her a cut above the rest.

"The process of designing gowns for 10 characters in the play was difficult because each character had between six and eight costume changes. It was equally challenging to find suitable and practical costumes which allowed actors quick changes. It was my first time behind the scenes and I'm happy that my work has been recognised," said Siti.

The winners' list also included Amelia Tan, who scooped Best Lighting Design for Philadelphia, Here I Come (for theatre) while Mark Teh and Wong Tay Sy won Best Set Design for Something I Wrote under the same category. Under dance, Shamala Narayanan won Best Costume Design, Styling and Make Up for Panchali Sabatham

Chan Wei Ling, Dominique Devorsine, Bryan Christopher Tan and Teo Kuang Han won Best Design and Technical (Set/Sound/Light) for The Producers (musical theatre category).

Twenty eight more awards remain for the main 11th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards ceremony, taking centrestage on April 27 at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. Kakiseni has also created the Kakiseni Audience Choice Awards where arts lovers can cast their votes online ( for their favourite dance, music, musical theatre and theatre performances.

> The 11th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards takes place on April 27 at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. For more details, visit


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