Art for Nature 2012: Snapshots
Organised by WWF-Malaysia trustee Angela Hijjas, the showcase has in previous years been themed around environmental issues, such as “Survival”, “Tanah Air”, “Shifting Boundaries”, and most recently, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”. This year, adopting a more spontaneous approach, she asked artists for work that reflects their current arts practice, a snapshot of what they are thinking about and working towards. A total of 29 artists have generously given work for the show. Half of the sales proceeds will go to WWF-Malaysia’s conservation work, and the rest will go to the artist.
WWF-Malaysia thanks the participating artists:
Abdul Multhalib Musa
Ahmad Osni Peii
Ahmad Shukri Mohamed
Azam Tajol Aris
Bayu Utomo Radjikin
Chong Siew Ying
Choy Chun Wei
Fauzul Yusri Haslin
Jailani Abu Hassan
Kow Leong Kiang
Noor Mahnun Mohamed
Shia Yi Ying
Umibaizura Mahir @ Ismail
Wong Perng Fey
Yau Bee Ling
Snapshot, camera trapping, tigers with the flash going off in their faces… the sequence of ideas led to great graphics designed by Imaya Wong.
Shiah Yi Ying has made some lovely portraits of animals that she called TP 1, 2 and 3, TP being “totally protected” in the parlance of IUCN. These very engaging paintings resemble the hunter’s wall trophies decorated with nationalistic flora, in particular our bunga raya. Yi Ying makes a forceful but beautiful statement about our priorities and preferences that is hard to deny.
Umibaizura Mahir @ Ismail, the ceramicist, has caught the figure of a voluptuous Malay woman in her elaborately detailed sarung kebaya, trapped inside an industrial scale egg whisk, as the face grimaces and screams out in frustration. The female lot is another current issue that women artists are dealing with. Yau Bee Ling has painted a series of four panels crowded with female faces, mostly smiling, but with a substance of personality in each one that asserts the strength of character of women in general. In beautiful shades of yellows and blues, that usually invoke a sense of calm, this is a busy piece that demonstrates how women bear their full load of responsibility.
Kow Leong Kiang has a more romantic image of women, particularly those on the east coast, and the portrait that he has given the show is a superlative example. A young Malay girl in an open necked kurung looks into the wind, but the softness of the colours and tones almost reduces her to a fading image, in fact even the curving horizon of the sea shows through her body as if she is either goddess emerging from the water, or a fleeting image that is about to be absorbed by the landscape.
Masnoor Ramly Mahmud’s piece reverts to the popular (amongst artists) stance of taking social and political issues full on. In terms of current practice, particularly amongst many young Malay artists, they are vitally concerned about injustice at any level and tackle the issues with energy and focus. Masnoor’s piece, called “The Apocalypse’s Prophecy”, takes the hundred Euro note as a digital print on canvas, and then he superimposes a pair of battling sumo wrestlers literally pulling each other down to the ground. The lushness of what we have been given is represented by the banana tree and bunch of fruit, recalling the European concept of the Banana Republic. The superimposed text points out our complete disregard for the impact of the violence of the financial system on those who cannot defend themselves.
Chong Siew Ying, who has recently had a very fruitful showing at the HongKong Art Fair, has given the show a large piece that continues the themes she successfully developed for that body of work. Using charcoal, she draws and fills beautiful imagined landscapes with a level of detail that can only be appreciated with close examination, and all of it is drawn from Malaysia’s tropical plants. She has developed a technique of applying an acrylic medium onto the paper mounted canvas, not only sealing the charcoal medium, but giving it a similar depth that you see with painted surfaces. The result is intriguing and supremely beautiful.