There is no shortage of pseudonyms and aliases for artists when an exhibition has strong links to the street art and graffiti scene.

Ever heard of Klangblabla, Bibichun, The Sliz, Orkibal, Snaketwo, FritilldeaPumoonkust and Sattama? If you haven’t, you will soon.

The intersection of graffiti art and gallery-based contemporary art gets a lot of ink these days, for good – and bad – reasons.

“It is a positive development when you find individuals or collectives from the various creative scenes finding new ways to connect with each other and to start experimental art projects together. It’s important to forge relationships between open-minded thinkers and encourage collaboration across disciplines,” says The Sliz, a graffiti artist who founded The Secret Hideout collective in Penang in 2011.

The Secret Hideout, a multi-disiplinary art collective, has members nationwide, and it embraces an open-door policy when it comes to exhibitions.

“In so many ways, there has been a lot of ‘hype’ behind many art collaborations. You start to wonder and be cynical about certain mainstream projects which ultimately have commercial considerations. When it comes to Secret Hideout, we are more relaxed as we want to operate outside that scene. We want people, or kindred spirits, to create art for art’s sake. That can sound totally idealistic, but it’s a long-term goal to build bridges to link the diverse creative scenes, to help us relate to each other and understand the true nature of collaboration,” he adds.

Rico Leong x Tom Heri’s Kelinci Yang Bebas (woodcut print, stencil collage, plastic mesh and canvas, 2018).

The Bunnies exhibition, organised by The Secret Hideout at the Awegallery in Petaling Jaya, is a collaborative show – conventional or not – featuring 30 independent art practitioners. Nearly half the contributions come from relative newcomers, or individuals making their exhibition debuts. Naturally, it’s a haul of mixed results, happy accidents and hipster alley art.

This is also the fifth exhibition from the collective, which utilises independent spaces for its projects.

Broadly, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll seems to be the theme of the day, with visitors invited to tumble down a rabbit hole where paintings, installations, sculptures, graffiti works, music and poetry await upon landing.

The show, despite its loose curation and DIY charm, manages to exhibit a broad range of creative types; from visual artists, photographers, graphic designers and muralists to poets, performance artists, sculptors and cartoonists.

Pumoonkust x Nej’s Bunny The Bunny (acrylic on canvas, 2018).

“We are all always doing something different. And we forget to meet in the middle, or work together,” says The Sliz, 32.

“The collaborations offer a good mix … some who know each other’s art practice, and the rest working together for the first time,” he adds.

A mixed media work between visual artists Orkibal and Katun called Arnab Cedera is a definite highlight, with its street art leanings.

Haris Rashid, an illustrator, combines well with Bono Stellar, designer/artist, for a light installation, while the ink stamping work Raban from Ajim Juxta and Aleff Ahmad, both from the Titikmerah collective, is a preview of an art fanzine cover from them.

It takes two hands to clap? Not really. The idea of collaborative art, at times, can go beyond working with another artist or a collective.

Fauzan Fuad x Gravity’s Paksi Bumi (The Axis) (Polaroid film on glass frame, 2018).

There is nothing that says an artist cannot collaborate with his cat, or that a poet/artist cannot choose to “work with” recycled cafe order stubs to scribble down poetry.  If a photographer prefers to see gravity as more than a theory or a law, then so be it. Gravity can be a creative partner.

For a side of novelty and fun, you can take a closer look at artist Black Project’s sculpture Confusecius, a work lined with his cat Pearl’s snowy white fur. This ornamental (chairman) Mao work, accidental or not, has a dash of feline despite being a repurposed hare.

Malaysia-based Russian young artist Margarita Gurgotsova gets all poetry mobile crafty with her frantic installation Sorry, I Think You Charged My Time Wrong (a mixed media jumble) that references the White Rabbit and the fear of being worn down or pressured by time.

The viewer, in the end, will decide if the poems or food orders are more appetising.


Bunnies: The Secret Hideout exhibition runs at Awegallery, 21, Jalan 20/13, Taman Paramount in Petaling Jaya, Selangor till Jan 13. Open daily: 11am to 10pm. FB: The Secret Hideout.