It’s been over a decade since we heard from Balai Seni Maybank, which dropped off the homegrown art scene’s radar. But this month marks the gallery’s revival with Rrrawrrr!!!: Maybank’s Emerging Women Artists Show 2018, the first exhibition from its Balai Seni Art Series.
Balai Seni Art Series, projected to be an annual event, sees four anchor exhibitions held at Menara Maybank in Kuala Lumpur, with smaller shows also scheduled this year. RRRawrrr! features works from 31 emerging artists, in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The show runs till Mar 23.
The line-up includes Amy Nazira, Caryn Koh, Dhaniya Yusof, Elizabeth Low, Farrah Ashiela Samsuri, Jasmine Cheong, Jane Stephanny, Koo Yeanni, Liew Mei Toong, Lyia Meta, Marisa Ridzuan Ng, Monica Lee, Nor Tijan Firdaus, Ruby Subramaniam and Yuyu Roslan.
All works are for sale, with 20% of the proceeds going to the Women’s Aid Organisation.
“In Malaysia, women artists have been at the forefront in contributing interesting and outstanding works of art in terms of technical skill, concepts and approaches,” says curator Tan Sei Hon. “The subject matters are varied too, covering the cultural, sociopolitical, everyday realities, the personal and formal aesthetics.”
Rrrawrrr!!! offers a broad range of styles and themes. Ng’s signature energetic brushstrokes in her abstract work of recent years makes an appearance here, capturing the essence of the strong, wild and free-spirited eagles she saw during a visit to Langkawi.
“I was out on the sea watching the eagles feed, and the energy and chaos you see in this painting attempts to capture what I felt when watching them swoop down from high up in the sky. What an amazing sight!” recalls Ng when talking about her Langkawi Eagles.
In contrast, across from her frenzy of colours are squares in pastel shades: purple, blue, green, pink. All very sweet, but only on the surface.
Fitriah Roslan, affectionately known as Yuyu, draws on the sights and sounds from her days of working in a bakery, and incorporates them into a work aptly titled Perfect Imperfections 6.
“The aesthetics of this work is inspired by cake icing. The colours and textures are bright and happy, I would like people to look at it and marvel at how sweet it looks. But take a closer look and you will realise that it is far from perfect. The background is rough and uneven.
“I would like people to ponder on how important it is to find it in ourselves to appreciate imperfections. It is not about what is on the surface, it is what lies beneath the pretty colours that is the most important,” she says.
The Balai Seni Art Series has kicked off with a show dominated by Malaysian artists, but Maybank Foundation chief executive officer Shahril Azuar Jimin shares that it has plans to eventually take on a more regional flavour.
“There is a lot of talent in Malaysia but we do not necessarily have the platform to showcase them. Balai Seni aims to offer a space for up-and-coming talent, in particular the younger artists, to showcase their works and to be part of their journey in their career development. Eventually, we hope to be a hub not just for artists in Malaysia, but from all over South-East Asia,” he says.