'Very Image' heralds cultural exchange between Taiwan and Malaysia

Isa Ho's 'Xiao-Hong B' (2011) uses ethereal imagery to reflect on female suicide in Asia.
Isa Ho's 'Xiao-Hong B' (2011) uses ethereal imagery to reflect on female suicide in Asia.

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PETALING JAYA, July 15 — At Shalini Ganendra Fine Art in Petaling Jaya, a new exhibition attempts to link the Petaling Jaya suburb with the complicated culture and sharp aesthetics of Taipei.

The exhibition, Very Image, features the work of Taiwanese artists from Taipei-based artists’ collective VT Artsalon. Founded in 2009, the group positions itself as both a fostering ground for Taiwanese artists and an international connector with a view towards the global art stage, hosting a number of international exchanges and residencies.

Opened on June 28 to a crowd which included local artists, luminaries, and the Taiwanese ambassador to Malaysia, Very Image serves as a physical incarnation of the group’s international aspirations.

The eclectic works on show bring a brief but multi-faceted view of Taiwan to the Malaysian scene, offering commentaries on both the contemporary and traditional which are given a special power in the foreign setting.

The show, which runs through August 28, features the work of seven of VT’s leading artists (Very Image curator Sean CS Hu is the eighth member at the helm of the group).

Combining film, photography, and mixed media projects, the exhibition is a kind of sampler of VT’s work, offering brief snapshots of the collective’s major players and their views. With seven artists and a number of agendas jostling for space, the exhibition is diverse and even a little frenzied — but it serves as a solid introduction to VT.

Noticeably, a number of pieces comment on the darker threads of modern Taiwanese life. Isa Ho’s inkjet on dibond print Xiao-Hong B (2011), from her ethereal photography series Girls, responds to the upward trend of female suicide in Asia; while a photograph of sneering leather-clad men from Wu Dar-Kuen aims to capture the mingled enchantment and cruelty of the contemporary city.

Also on display is Yao Jui-Chung’s documentary Rainbow over the Ruins, a documentary project which, along with a series of books, represents an exhaustive effort on the part of Yao and his students to document “mosquito halls,” abandoned and disused public facilities in Taiwan.

'Authenticity Temporal Memory' (Chen Wen-Chi, 2015) utilises striking mixed media elements to consider the past.
'Authenticity Temporal Memory' (Chen Wen-Chi, 2015) utilises striking mixed media elements to consider the past.

Less topical and more ephemeral are the works of Chen Wen-Chi, who presents a shadowbox of image, text and typesetting blocks in Authenticity Temporal Memory (2015), a musing on the nature of the subjective past; and Tu Wei-Cheng, who presents an ink rubbing of an artifact from the artist’s fictional civilisation, called Bu Nam.

Both pieces, interesting in their own right as carefully crafted aesthetic objects, call into question issues of display and temporality, subjectivity, and artifact. A third piece, Chen Chun-Hao’s Imitating Landscape by Bada Shanren in Qing Dynasty (2014), takes a stab at the past through careful reconstruction of a classical Chinese ink landscape with 0.1 cm-diameter pin-nails driven into canvas. Seen together, the parallel pieces — samples from much larger, independent bodies of work created by the three artists — cohesively tell a story of a constantly renegotiated relationship with reality and the past.

A still from Su Hui Yu's 'Whales Mass Suicide' (2014) which serves as both background and soundtrack for the exhibition.
A still from Su Hui Yu's 'Whales Mass Suicide' (2014) which serves as both background and soundtrack for the exhibition.

Su Hui Yu’s serene single channel video Whales Mass Suicide (2014), which depicts a young girl playing on the beach as her father lies still in the crashing waves, is projected on a loop against the gallery’s back wall, lending an eerie soundtrack and a sense of unity to the eclectic exhibition.

Learn more about SGFA at http://shaliniganendra.com/ or on Facebook at SGFA. To view the exhibition, please call 03-7932 4740 for more details.  

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