Malaysian artists go ‘Back To Nature’ at reopening of Penang art gallery

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Alex Leong poses for a photo with his paintings during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin
Alex Leong poses for a photo with his paintings during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 19 ― The Art Gallery in Penang reopened its doors on October 15 with a group art exhibition titled “Back to Nature” featuring 10 local artists.

Gallery owner Tan Ee Lene said they chose the theme in appreciation of Nature as over the last one and a half years, many took to Nature-based activities such as hiking and gardening.

The exhibition, which is until October 31, features 28 artworks by 10 local artists using various mediums from batik painting to ceramic sculpture.

The 10 are Alex Leong (Penang), Alice Loo (Perak), Da Niu (Kedah), Ho Chung Kwang (Penang), Koay Sheng Tat (Penang), Lee Eng Beng (Penang), Lim Anuar (Kuala Lumpur), Lim Jee Yuen (Kuala Lumpur), Thanesh Kichi (Selangor) and Vincent Phang (Penang).

Tan said she informed the artists of the group exhibition early this year with a plan to hold it in June but it was postponed due to the lockdown.

“The idea was for the artists to showcase their ideas on Nature and what inspires them,” she said.

K. Thanesh shows two of his sculptures during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.
K. Thanesh shows two of his sculptures during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.

One of the sculptors, Thanesh, produced two ceramic sculptures titled “Earth and Us” that featured contrasting dark and bright colours.

“My sculptures tell the story of everyone and our connection with Nature, I want to show the harmonious part of Nature and that is why I use ceramics it is a medium that uses all five senses to create, sometimes we even taste it,” he said.

Another artist, Alex Leong, showcased three of his works from his series called “Patchwork Quilts for Nature.”

His watercolour paintings, like colourful patchwork quilts of Nature combined to create ethereal and fantastical works, were his message of healing for the world.

“My message is expressed through the dry-on-dry technique of watercolour painting, healing the world gradually,” he said.

The patchwork quilt idea was inspired by an old tradition when the parents of a newborn child would go from house to house of their relatives and friends to collect fabrics or rags which are then eventually used to sew a patchwork quilt for the child.

“The idea is to accept the blessings of hundreds of families, thus, protecting the child from misfortune,” he said.

Another watercolour artist, Lee Eng Beng, who is known for his streetscapes and urban heritage building watercolour paintings tried his hand at painting Nature for the group exhibition.

Lee Eng Beng shows his painting during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.
Lee Eng Beng shows his painting during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.

He painted a scene from the Penang Botanic Gardens, depicting a serene scene of a stream below the bridge at the gardens which is usually crowded with families picnicking there during pre-pandemic times.

Lee said the pandemic has affected mankind but it can also be seen as a time for Nature to heal from the destructive nature of humans.

Up and rising batik artist Lim Anuar, also submitted works featuring village scenes of children playing outdoors reminiscent of pre-pandemic times.

Another artist, Da Niu submitted works featuring the lotus flower in bloom as an analogy on people finding strength to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic to “bloom” again like the lotus flower.

“So, my message is that together we can fight this war,” he said, of his paintings.

The exhibition is open to visitors by appointment only from 2pm to 5pm daily until October 31. Visitors will need to call 012-6041434 or email to eelene@theartgallerypg.com to book an appointment.

According to Tan, the gallery has been receiving appointments from their regular art collectors wanting to visit the exhibition.

“I have sent out our exhibition materials to our collectors and supporters and so far, we have sold five paintings to collectors from overseas and in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.

She hoped that with the lifting of the interstate travel ban, more collectors from other states will visit the exhibition and this will provide the much needed income to the participating artists.

Vincent Phang poses for a photo with his paintings during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.
Vincent Phang poses for a photo with his paintings during an interview regarding his work being previewed here at The Art Gallery, Pulau Tikus October 15, 2021.

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