Reviews

ANGST AND OPACITY

by Laura Fan - THE EDGE, OPTIONS, 24 AUG 1998

This years's 3 Young Contemporaries at Valerntine Willie Fine Art fell short of expectations set by last year's stimulating exhibition. Featuring recent graduates from art and design colleges, this annual event promised to be a novel means to view daring and experimental work.

Instead, this year's offering were largely clumsy and unresolved. This was particularly true of work by Ivan Lam and Badruddin Abdul Wahab. The notable exception was Malaysian Institute of Art graduate Chang Yoong Chia.

Chang's Yellow-Skinned Series create a haunting vision of urban isolation. Wandering through a desolate land, ablack-outlined yellow figure walkss the streets alone or with others who do not interact with each other. His figure's eyes are black pits, with no whiote showing, heightening a sense of bleakness. Unkempt hair and the absence of genitals additionally conspire to create an image of lost, emasculated youth.

While the series is mostly monochromatic, Chang's contrasting use of spontaneous andd controlled brush-strokes is effective and original. He dapples the entire surface of the paper with splotches of Chinese ink. In so doing, he links the figure with he background. Without the splotches, ther light brown ground and the linear shapes would appear unrelentingly stark. In this way, the inky blobs soften the harsh view of reality underlying the painting.

Undoubtedly, Chang's view of life is not cheery but it testifies to real emotion. This, however, cannot be seen in the work of Ivan Lam.

Lam's credentials include graduating with full honours in painting from Maine College of Art. His work, however, evinces both naivete and opacity. Emulating packing crate information, printing inflammatory slogans that provoke neither emotion nor thought, and using the Japanese and Korean languages printed in reverse, his work fails to arouse even the most ban al emotions.

Badruddin Abdul Wahab's drawings have at least local subject matter to recommend it. His charcoal drawings feature women praying, young tudung-clad girls sitting together and on seperate works, nude figure studies. However, his figures are somewhat blocky and lack of convincing sense of realism. Musculature and movement are also inadequately expressed.

3 Young Contemporaries '98, Valentine Willie Fine Art, 1st Floor, 17 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, KL.