Ahad, 6 April 2014

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Prudential Malaysian Eye: Seeing is believing

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Prudential Malaysian Eye exhibition catalogues the bright lights of local contemporary art.

DON'T walk under the circular festoon of "dirty" shoes, an installation by Andrew Chong Boon Pok, at the Prudential Malaysian Eye exhibition now on at MAP's White Box and Black Box art spaces at Publika in Kuala Lumpur. It might just be a pet superstitious aversion like walking under a ladder.

But Chong's installation Circumrotation rigged with all kinds of footwear – suspended in a single-direction loop on the ceiling – hints more at the ephemeral quality of life, with shadows of a zombie existence. Circumrotation features men's and women's shoes. It also doesn't discriminate in age. Add baby shoes, sports shoes, work boots, sandals, sexy stilettos and trendy flats. All the shoes are worn ... with their soles and "souls" worn-out. They are the discards that have outlived their usefulness and succumbed to new trends.

On the floor nearby at this art space you will also come across some "leaden" stone shoes. They look like discards too. But these works by sculptor Azli Wahid are more like relics. Azli, 29, is an artist deeply rooted with themes of civilisation, culture and history. He is also known for his Major Award at the Penang Open art competition in 2009.

While Chong, 50, may not yet be a familiar name in local art circle despite his three solos in London, he comes with the same pedigree as painter-printmaker Kim Ng (Ng Kim Peow), 49. Their artworks are making heads turn at the Prudential Malaysian Eye. Both have won the prestigious first prize of the Owen Rowley Award in London (Chong in 2001 and Kim Ng in 1996).

Ahmad Shukri Ahmad's 'Miracle', a mixed media on canvas piece.

Ahmad Shukri Ahmad's Miracle (2012), a mixed media on canvas piece.

Back to the exhibition, Chong Kim Chew's Unreadable Wall Bricks moulded from newspapers, in a twist to American minimalist artist Carl Andre's stacked bricks, is a subtle reference to an obdurate barrier of obfuscation or hidden contexts.

All four artists are among 75 selected for the Malaysian Eye component of the Parallel Contemporary Arts country artbook series that has covered Indonesia, South Korea and Hong Kong in recent years. The Malaysian Eye book, which was launched in Kuala Lumpur together with an exhibition of works of 21 of the artists, is the latest documentation of contemporary art here.

A selection of works will also be shown at the Prudential EyeZone exhibition at London's Saatchi Gallery from June 21 to 29.

The oldest of the pack on show at the Prudential Malaysian Eye exhibition is watercolourist extraordinaire Chang Fee Ming, 55, best known for his epic survey of the communities and cultures of the Mekong River up to the river source in the Tibetan Plateau. At this exhibition, he parades his Banjarmasin sextet of female boat-rowers taken from a top-down dramatic side angle.

The youngest artist at this exhibition is Khairuddin Zainuddin, 27, a two-time winner of the Tanjung Heritage Art Prize (2010, 2011).

Elsewhere, Ramlan Abdullah, 54, intrigues with his stand-alone sculpture Monumenta, using stainless steel instead of his usual cut-glass-and-metal repertoire. Standing 200cm-tall, the work looks like a woman's bodice with simple designs that perhaps could pass for lace. The sculpture is propped on 11 stick legs. Ramlan's career is impressive with accolades such as the Anugerah Seni Negara (2006), the Zain Azraai Award (2001) and the hugely lucrative Oita Asian Sculpture Prize (1995).

Chong Siew Ying's 'A Thousand Years', a charcoal and acrylic on paper mounted canvas work.

Chong Siew Ying's A Thousand Year (2012), a charcoal and acrylic on paper mounted canvas work.

Another major international star featured is Kow Leong Kiang, 44, with his rollicking tumbling torsos from his Soft solo exhibition at the Yogyakarta Contemporary in 2011. Kow hit the bright lights when he won the Major Award at the Philip Morris Asean Art Award in the finals in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1998.

The largest piece on show is the Veil Of An Artist (2010, 244cm x 1,219cm), a video-projected installation artwork across nine mixed media paintings, by local e-art pioneer Hasnul J. Saidon, 49. It was first shown at the Penang State Art Gallery in 2010, depicting three video projections onto paintings on the introspection of self, religious ritual and communion, and a dance of life.

Chong Ai Lei, one of the 2013 winners of the Malaysian Emerging Artists Award (MEAA), is represented by two works from her True Romances series. Here you will find Ai Lei's solitary young girl lolling in bed in a somewhat provocative pose and with a sense of boredom despite being surrounded by all the modern-day gadgetry as shown in greater details. Ai Lei had her first major solo Pink, at the Sangkring Art Space in Yogyakarta last year.

Another MEAA winner, Sun Kang Jyi, 36, who won in 2011, has two works relishing the rural divide in his usual positive-negative veneer.

French-trained Chong Siew Ying, 45, continues her monochromatic mock Chinese-ink (actually acrylic and charcoal) "landscapes" in A Thousand Year and The Gift Of Rain (triptych). Both works are reflections on the great natural succour and sustenance of life.

Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, 45, the sole artist from the cult Matahati group on show, is represented by his 2012 work, Miracle, from his Golden Gate solo exhibition. Shukri looks like he is recreating what looks like a sumptuous scene from the 2009 sci-fi movie, Avatar, with the floating day-glo "flowers" in a primeval forest allegory.

Sculptor-painter Sabri idrus, 43, fresh from his recent Rimbun Dahan artist's residency – the last since the dual Australia-Malaysia programme started in 1994 – plays on a centrifugal view of a rattan-like craft object with patterns and tensility and earth-brown raw quality. He was the winner of the UOB Art Award in 2011 and was one of three in the group of 21 here with Rimbun Dahan credentials. The others being Siew Ying (1999-2000) and Ahmad Shukri (2003).

Phuan Thai Meng, who was selected from Malaysia for the Asia-Pacific Triennial 7 in Brisbane, Australia, in 2012, continues the pop urbanscapes of Kok Yew Puah (1947-1999) but with greater emphasis on the scale of the infrastructure.

Chong Ai Lei's 'True Romances 1', oil on canvas.

Chong Ai Lei's True Romances 1 (2013), oil on canvas.

Chee Eng Hong, better known as E.H. Chee, 51, creates great psychological insights with his "inner portraits". Just take a glimpse of the rough-toned flesh in works such as Sang Froid 1, Brothers and Mak Cekek, a wizened aboriginal woman Chee met during an Endau Rompin artist expedition.

Other artists featured are Seah Ze Lin, art-photographer Eiffel Chong, textile artist Anne Samat, assemblage artists Azrin Mohd and Hasanul Isyraf Idris.

The Prudential Malaysian Eye exhibition runs at both the White Box and Black Box spaces, MAP at Publika, Level G2-02, Block A5, Jalan Dutamas 1, Kuala Lumpur, till April 30. Free admission. Opening times: 11am to 7pm. Website: www.malaysianeye.com.

Mysterious prehistoric reptiles fly into NY

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 08:50 PM PDT

International exhibition on pterosaurs is largest ever in the US.

An international exhibition in New York explores the fascinating world of prehistoric flying reptiles, the pterosaurs who ruled the skies when dinosaurs ruled the earth millions of years ago.

Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, opens on April 5 and runs until January 2015 at the American Museum of Natural History, co-curated with an expert from Brazil.

It is the largest exhibition ever mounted in the United States about these flying reptiles that have long captured popular imagination and which play a starring role in any dinosaur movie.

Part of the exhibit called 'Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs' shown at a preview on April 1, 2014, at the American Museum of Natural History. – AFP

In a full interactive experience, visitors can even "pilot" two species of flying pterosaurs over prehistoric landscapes via a sensor programme that reproduces the human body's movements on a screen.

"Despite persistently captivating our popular imagination, pterosaurs are among the least well understood large animals from the age of dinosaurs," said museum president Ellen Futter.

They were the first vertebrates to fly, diversifying into more than 150 species ranging in size from a sparrow to a two-seater plane before becoming extinct 66 million years ago.

From the small Nemicolopterus crypticus of just 10 inches (25cm), to the gigantic Quetzalcoatlus northropi of 10 yards (9m), the exhibition showcases many of the known pterosaurs through rare fossils and stunningly realistic models.

"It's just a fantastic exhibition, taking those bones and putting them into life," says co-curator Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist from Brazil's Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil, China and now Transylvania

The first pterosaur fossil ever found, a Pterodactylus antiquus, was part of a collection belonging to a German prince in the 18th century and had fascinated scientists for years.

Only in 1809 was it correctly identified by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier, who named it in reference to the Greek words "ptero" or wing and "dactyle", which means finger.

Pterosaurs had developed their characteristic long front limbs and fins adapted to flying by more than 200 million years ago.

Like other flying animals, they spent time on land, where the general consensus is that they moved on all fours.

For more than a hundred years paleontologists focused their searches on Bavaria in Germany, southern England and the US interior.

But in the last two decades, northeastern Brazil and northeast China have seen a "renaissance in terms of discovery".

"We had three places for over a hundred years. Now we have two more places that are even better than the other three," said Mark Norell, curator and chair of the museum's paleontology division.

"It's just exploded in terms of diversity as well as in number of specimens."

This revival is not only the result of new excavation sites, but also stems from "more support" for science in the two emerging economies of Brazil and China, said Kellner.

While Brazil is known for fossils preserved in "3D", in China there is "a lot of diversity", he said.

A sixth area, Transylvania in Romania, has more recently emerged as a new magnet for paleontologists, with the discovery of some "spectacular specimens," said Norell.

One of the fossils found in the region was of a species "even stronger and heavier than the Quetzalcoatlus northropi" and is still little known. – AFP Relaxnews

First artist to paint on Berlin Wall launches solo show

Posted: 04 Apr 2014 08:50 PM PDT

Thierry Noir left his mark on the wall every day for five years in act of defiance.

The first artist to illegally paint on the Berlin Wall has launched his first solo exhibition in London.

Thierry Noir: A Retrospective will see original works displayed alongside rarely seen photographs, interviews and films, exploring Noir's enduring legacy and contribution to society.

Thierry Noir is increasingly recognised as a forerunner of the modern street art movement.

In 1984, French artist Noir spontaneously started to paint the Berlin Wall, and continued to do so every day for the next five years in an attempt to help bring about its demolition. His iconic, bright and seemingly innocent street art symbolised a sole act of defiance and a lone voice of freedom.

The street artist's enormous murals feature vivid colors and simplified forms – a style that embodies the cultural aesthetic of 1980s Berlin.

Today, Noir is increasingly recognised as a forerunner of the modern street art movement and in 2013 he worked in London alongside renowned international street artists including Phlegm and ROA.

Thierry Noir: A Retrospective will run through May 5 at Howard Griffin Gallery. – AFP Relaxnews

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