KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Art is a subjective topic and many approach it differently.
But for local artist Poesy Liang, art is a form of healing.
The 45-year-old Malaysian-Taiwanese interdisciplinary artist has been using art to turn her dark past into something positive.
Her artworks, however, go beyond mere self-reflection.
According to Liang, she connects to her audience through her works, and tries to send messages of hope and optimism to her followers.
That is the focus of her latest installation piece dubbed Pirate’s Daughter.
Picturing the dark concept, Liang said the installation depicts an underwater graveyard of a pirate’s plunder, where countless fallen ships and souls of sailors who lost their lives rested in peaceful melancholy to a heartbroken tune by the pirate’s daughter.
Housed at Abundantia Kuala Lumpur — a private art space in Sungai Buloh, the installation piece consists of 62 ship wheels, 38 storm lamps, seven ship oars, three hunting spears, three Western swords, one oriental sword, two trumpets and other maritime artefacts that she has been keeping for the past 40 years.
As the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic, Liang said the installation captures messages of loss, redemption and solace, which is particularly relevant in the era of Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Pirate’s Daughter is about healing from dark times.
“Malaysia and the world reel from this tragic plague, but together we will heal. Together we can heal.”
Although the art piece sends relevant messages to the current trying times, the dark concept of the piece goes beyond the pandemic.
It’s something that has a personal root for Liang, who has gone through depression twice in her lifetime.
Recalling her childhood, the KL-based artist said she grew up in a dark environment as her father went through mental illness and years of financial difficulties, which led Liang to start working from her teenage years.
Speaking about the connection of Pirate’s Daughter to her personal life, Liang said the installation piece had been 40 years in the making when her father collected maritime artifacts as a hobby.
The father’s hobby, however, almost bankrupted the family and resulted in the gradual decline of his and the family’s mental health.
“My dad was a businessman and his company was about to go for a listing.
“But because of his dispute with his partners, he cashed out his shares before the company went for listing.”
Having substantial cash in hand, Liang recalled that her father decided to pursue his passion to own a maritime curiosity shop.
“He spent all his money to bring in a container load of maritime artifacts and collectables, including ship wheels, storm lamps, ship oars, etc.”
Liang said back in the early 80s her father opened three maritime curiosity shops called the Red House, which were located in Sungei Wang Plaza, Asia Jaya and Jalan Imbi.
Although the shops were amazingly decorated, Liang said her dad — who is now 82, hardly sold any items.
Growing up with an artistic sense, Liang kept some of the artifacts and turned them into an art piece.
The Pirate’s Daughter opened on May 1 and is slated to run until the end of the year.
However, due to the pandemic and the movement restrictions, Liang said she is planning to have Zoom tours of the exhibition for the public.
The installation was last staged at Liang’s family house in downtown Kuala Lumpur for 13 years before it was moved to Abundantia this year.
A lighter version of the world was shown at a pop-up gallery for 18 months between 2014 and 2016.
Liang said the project was in development since 2001 and the first staging happened in 2004.
Thanks to a grant from the Cultural Economy Development Agency’s (Cendana) Arts Venue Recovery Programme, Liang was able to reassemble her work at Abundantia with the help of a two-person crew.
According to her, the fund is enough to cover her overheads for six months.
Moving forward, Liang hoped to be able to garner support to move the exhibition to a public venue next year.
Liang has also composed a piano tune in 2014 titled Forgotten Star, intended to be auto played on a broken grand piano when the grand exhibition is up.