TU7OH: An exhibition that explores the number 7

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, July 7 — The number seven is considered a significant number in many religions and in numerology, it represents a quest for knowledge.

Then in modern-day pop culture, there are the seven wonders of the world, the seven habits of highly effective people and even the lucky triple seven on slot machines.

The art exhibition TU7OH is a fun exploration of what the number meant to the seven participating artists.

Curator Ivan Gabriel speaks to Malay Mail during an interview session at Hin Bus Depot in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Curator Ivan Gabriel speaks to Malay Mail during an interview session at Hin Bus Depot in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Curator Ivan Gabriel speaks to Malay Mail during an interview session at Hin Bus Depot in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

“There are seven elements of art that are the building blocks of art and seven plays a part in completing a picture,” said exhibition curator Ivan Gabriel.

He said there are seven artists in the exhibition and they each will showcase seven artworks.

“It is a media-driven show, none of the mediums among the artist overlap,” he said.

The exhibition, set to officially open at 7pm on July 7, was postponed five times before it finally came to fruition.

Ivan said he had planned the exhibition back in 2019 and it was supposed to be held in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 led to the exhibition being postponed to 2021 and lockdowns in 2021 also meant it was further postponed.

Finally, after the reopening of all economic sectors and the country shifting to the endemic phase, Ivan was finally able to set a date for the exhibition on July 7, which goes perfectly with the theme of the exhibition.

The seven participating artists are Aboud Fares, bibichun, ERYN, Esther Geh, Mandy Maung, Maizul Affendy and White Bones.

Aboud’s seven artworks are titled Bagged and it featured fibreglass sculptures of black garbage bags hanging within its frames with imprints of heads inside the bags.

The eerie sculptures are black with faces and features of the heads inside appearing as if they were trying to break out of it.

According to Aboud, the sculptures represent the many people who died due to the pandemic but were relegated to numbers and statistics, much like the nameless, faceless heads being placed in bags to be disposed of.

“Last two years, it was all about the numbers, the number of cases, the number of deaths...it got to a point that no one cares who those people behind those numbers are so these heads represent those people,” he said.

As for Esther Geh, her works which often feature plants used the number seven as its underlying theme.

Esther Geh explaining her artwork called ‘Of Limited Palette’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Esther Geh explaining her artwork called ‘Of Limited Palette’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Esther Geh explaining her artwork called ‘Of Limited Palette’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

“I use it as an underlying theme so I look at plants with the elements of seven in it without changing the characteristics of the plants,” she said.

She also played with the idea of using only seven colours for her artworks.

Maizul’s works, titled Semula Semula, were comic-based using stories that people can relate to.

Maizul Affendy explaining his artwork called ‘Mula Semula Vol 2’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Maizul Affendy explaining his artwork called ‘Mula Semula Vol 2’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Maizul Affendy explaining his artwork called ‘Mula Semula Vol 2’ at the Tu7oh Exhibition in George Town July 6, 2022. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

“I used ‘cerita rakyat’ in my narrative that are relevant to the political landscape of our country and I want to use comics as a form of art,” he said, referring to folk tales.

Four of his panels were based on the folk tale Ali Baba and another three were based on Sang Kancil.

White Bones, which consists of two artists — Benjamin and Cindy — took an abstract look at the seven stages in life with their artworks.

“If you look at our works from left to right, we start with geometric and rigid designs before it progresses to more abstract and softer designs to reflect the stages of life,” Cindy said.

She said the rigid designs represent everyone’s early life where they were fully under the control of their parents but as they grow older, they begin to break free and this was represented by the softer fluid designs.

White Bones, which consists of two artists — Benjamin and Cindy — took an abstract look at the seven stages in life with their artworks. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
White Bones, which consists of two artists — Benjamin and Cindy — took an abstract look at the seven stages in life with their artworks. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

White Bones, which consists of two artists — Benjamin and Cindy — took an abstract look at the seven stages in life with their artworks. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

A mirror stood at the centre in between the art and she said it represents the moment of clarity that people get at some point in their life.

The duo used holographic materials for the artworks so that they reflect differently in the light from different angles.

Mandy Maung’s works take a look at the seven deadly sins in a Malaysian context, with one of them featuring the lower half of the face of a political leader that is immediately recognisable.

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