PETALING JAYA: This month, two talented and passionate artists have their works on display in joint solo exhibitions at G13 Gallery in Kelana Jaya here.
“Vessel” by Caryn Koh and “Cerita Orang” by Khairudin Zainudin feature the creations of artists whose styles and subject choices greatly differ from each other.
Both are incredibly eye-catching, with Koh’s works – primarily oil on canvas – largely dominated by striking reddish hues and feminine figures, in addition to black-and-white portraits with red accents.
Upon first glance, it would appear that the 36-year-old artist, who is based in Swindon, England, has depicted the female body as a metaphorical vessel – hence the name of her exhibition.
In “Kerosene”, a woman stares into a mirror only for a void to stare back at her in place of her face, invoking questions about self-doubt and identity.
Meanwhile, “Chains and Patterns” shows a woman pouring from a teapot into Chinese cups – only instead of tea, a red fluid not unlike blood fills the small containers.
These and her other paintings such as “Lovesick” and “An Antidote” have a deliberate ambiguity to them that some might find perturbing, but which allow the viewer to interpret them as they will.
Koh nevertheless provides some context to her creations, saying: “A vessel is something that contains, and that can go into a state of overflow. ‘Vessel’ is thus a celebration of how a body can take so much, to the point of overflowing.”
As for the abundance of red, “it represents strong emotions, a lot of intensity”, she explained, adding that she was also inspired by the East Asian belief of the red thread of fate – an invisible cord around the fingers of those who are destined to meet one another because of true love.
Apart from Malaysia and the UK, Koh has also been involved in artistic projects in Spain, Germany, and the Philippines.
In the adjacent exhibition space, Kelantan-born Khairudin’s artworks similarly capture the attention, his bright and colourful canvases drawing inspiration from his life growing up in the state.
Indeed, each painting gives the viewer some insight into the lives of the Kelantanese, who are known to embrace simplicity and slow living.
“Ceritera Berbingkai-bingkai”, for example, has five panels depicting everyday scenes from the Kota Baru Siti Khadijah market, immersing the viewer into the setting. One can practically hear and smell the locale.
“Sukan Rakyat”, meanwhile, similarly has five panels – each with the image of a cockerel, inviting questions about the common pastime of the village folk.
The 38-year-old artist told FMT Lifestyle that growing up, entertainment outlets were quite limited; hence, he turned to comic books from Hong Kong – translated into Malay – to stifle his boredom.
“You can see their influence in my artwork,” he said, specifically pointing out the lines and movements that are inspired by the style of Hong Kong comic-book masters.
Given that he now lives away from his hometown, he feels it is his responsibility to show people what Kelantan is all about.
“The stories I tell through my paintings are not based on retellings in the newspaper, or idle talk from people who have never visited. They are stories that I, myself, gathered and witnessed while living there,” he concluded.
‘Vessel’ and ‘Cerita Orang’ are running until Saturday, July 22 at G13 gallery.
GL13, Ground Floor Block B
Jalan SS 7/26,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor