Our calendar is inspired by works from
The Pavillion of Malaysia,
To All Our Valuable Clients,
In celebration of Year 2020 and the continuing promotion of Malaysian art, we are pleased to announce our collaboration with Ms Lim Wei Ling of Wei Ling Galleries to bring you Malaysia’s fIrst participation in the prestigious Venice Art Biennale 2019. First started in 1895, the Venice Biennale is thefirst art exhibition of its kind: the event takes place once every two years and participants - after going through a rigorous selection process - are invited to present original creative expressions based on a theme chosen by a renowned curator. The works presented are not for sale (the Biennale - unlike other art fairs - is not a commercial undertaking) and are on display in over 50 locations throughout the city over a six month period from May to November. For the 2019 Biennale, the artists chosen for Malaysia's inaugural participation are the renowned contemporary artists H.H.Lim, Zulkifli Yusoff, Anurendra Jegadeva, and Ivan Lam. Anika Insurance Brokers is proud to present the only official hard copy limited edition of images from that pioneering exhibition to our valuable clients. While below we have a short write up with further details of the exhibition.
Bobby YP Wong
The Pavilion of Malaysia - Holding Up a Mirror
The Pavilion of Malaysia is pleased to present its inaugural exhibition Holding Up a Mirror at the 58th edition of La Biennale di Venezia.
Four artists – Zulkifli Yusoff, H.H. Lim, Anurendra Jegadeva and Ivan Lam – contemplate identity in its various forms: self, society, culture and history, at a time of immense political and social change.
The exhibition reflects the overarching theme of the Biennale, May You Live in Interesting Times, set by this edition’s curator Ralph Rugoff. Malaysia is a confluence of many cultures and multiple histories, which have intertwined over centuries, integrating narratives of diaspora and migration.
The artists exhibiting in the Malaysian Pavilion are themselves an illustration of these different ethnicities and origins; while each artist is Malaysian, their religious and cultural roots illuminate the many histories embedded in the Malaysian identity.
The phrase Holding Up a Mirror from which the exhibition borrows its title means "to depict something as it really is". One of its earliest references in literature appears in Hamlet, Shakespeare’s tragedy, where the eponymous protagonist impresses upon a troupe of actors that the "purpose of playing" is to "hold the mirror up to nature".i Hamlet was originally thought to be linking good acting with an authentic or natural performance. Another interpretation suggests that Hamlet was expounding on the importance of drama as a vehicle of truth, not merely as entertainment. It could be argued that Shakespeare’s use of the metaphor “holding up a mirror” was polysemous, and that both readings are ‘true’.
In today’s world, truth and its many versions can no longer be quoted without spin; fake news and conspiracies make the stuff of global headlines; fear and scaremongering underpin the rhetoric of politicians, and images "contaminate us like viruses".ii Within this global context Holding Up a Mirror presents four artists’ subjectivities on the concept of identity.
The exhibition takes as its starting point the notion of identity as the space where the personal and the public intersect, where myth and history collide, and where national and international perspectives are constructed.
This work is an ode to a way of life and values which are being eroded today. He uses different media and techniques such as protean, ranging from painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and installation. The installation comprises a cornucopia of wooden objects mounted on opposite walls and arranged in a geometric pattern. The entire arrangement is reminiscent of a rural plantation or orchard setting in a kampung. The screen-printed fruit bears resemblance to the quasi-scientific drawings of the early British colonialists who assiduously documented the treasures of their discoveries as they went about exploring the country.
Kebun Pak Awang was named after the eponymous radio show in the 1970s about a farming family – effectively propaganda encouraging Malaysians to grow their own produce. It also relates to another body of Yusoff’s work entitled Tun Razak Speech Series – The Green Book about the discourses and policies of Malaysia’s second prime minister. In this sense, Pak Awang harkens back to a time when the development of the nation was regarded as the collective responsibility of all.
Yusoff’s installation situates self and identity in context of the wider collective of society or nation. Civic progress necessitates a civic mindset; we cannot better our lot without bettering the life of others. History is linked to and defined by certain periods in time; there are clear delineations and contrasts ruptures even – between past and present in Yusoff’s work.
Kebun Pak Awang
His work is an anthology of cerebral and physical journeys of the self with actions attempting to transpose the abstract into the physical. For the Biennale Lim is exhibiting two bodies of works under the title of Timeframes: Four Seasons (2019) a triptych painting, and Comment Sense which comprises Sitting Sculptures (various years) an installation of chairs, along with four short video films Patience (2002), Enter the Parallel World (2001-2006), Red Room (2004) and Falò (2017) that compliments his form.
Timeframes is a personal anthology of Lim’s experiences and investigations expressed in a variety of aesthetic modes. Linking the works loosely and appearing in different guises is the chair, whose role shifts repeatedly from protagonist to shadow, to prop, or simply as a vehicle to pontificate the works.
Four Seasons, a triptych painting, is a panorama of the artist’s experiences extending back over the years. The work is an accumulation of signifiers; fragments from the artist’s own past, a wider history of mankind, and a reflection of the world around him.
Falò, a one-channel video installation, is the documentation of a happening at the Focara di Novoli festival during which the artist set fire to the remnants of a banquet including all the chairs. Lim has compared the experience of the burning chairs to burning his shadow, a statement that recalls the writings of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung; and could be understood as Lim going through the process of individuation and coming to terms with the ‘darkness of his own shadow’.
The other three video installations document happenings and actions – Patience, Enter the Parallel World and Red Room. These video installations document the embodiment of three virtues into physical acts – patience, mental balance and self-control.
Lim’s subjectivity is made up of signifiers collated through his own experiences, past and present, where the referent (the thing in the world which a word of phrase denotes or stands for)iv is juxtaposed with alternative meanings or possibilities.
In a Padded Room
A satirical view of contemporary culture.
His works illustrates aspects of post-modernism through literally holding up a satirical mirror to today’s world.
Yesterday, in a Padded Room brings to life an extract from the mythic Kedah Annals, a work of Malay literature believed to have originated in the 18th century, chronicling the foundation of the Malaysian state of Kedah.
Stylistically, Jegadeva’s work is essentially a sardonic view of our love of the kitsch and pastiche; it is a parody of pastiche while his depiction of a mythic struggle for hegemony in a pre-colonial world which he situates in today’s post-colonial world, is based on a one of binary opposition.
A phenomenological exploration of the space between ‘I’ and ‘We’.
One Inch explores dualities and dichotomies in themes relating to popular culture. These dualities sit cheek-by-jowl in his work – harmoniously and in tension – beguiling the viewer to discover the multiple meanings within. One Inch, a new work for the Biennale, is at once a reminder of the proximity, and the distance, between self and other.
The installation comprises 19 television screens placed at eye level in a small dark room, like a receptacle of our subconscious. Playing in a loop is a compendium of Malaysian films from the 1960s to today.
The title of the work, One Inch, is a reminder of the need to get away from ourselves, for it is only when we step away and reflect that we gain objectivity and understanding.
One inch is the space between screen and wall. One Inch is a metaphor reminding us of the importance of accessing the experience of the ‘other’, whether other is interpreted through the Lacanian reading of the discourse of our unconscious; or the positivist reading by Levinas as something beyond the self, beyond the limits of one’s own being, challenging our self-containment and self-assurance.