There is no denying that the Findars art space in Kuala Lumpur has quite a reputation for pushing the envelope when it comes to exhibitions and performances. In recent months, it has hosted several avant garde music nights and many visitors will also remember how the walls of the gallery were turned into comic book panels in the Ink Crisis exhibition.
Not to forget the Malaysia Zentai Art Festival, co-organised by Findars, where participants walked down KL’s Chinatown in colourful full body suits.
As a change of scenery, Findars is set for its first Chinese ink painting solo show called In The Natural Moment by Kuching-based Kenny Wong Kim Lee. The show, featuring 21 works by the now reinvigorated artist, starts on Nov 13 and ends on Nov 20.
“I think Findars has a crazy reputation, which actually makes it a very open-minded and cool place to exhibit,” says Wong in a phone interview from Kuching ahead of his first solo exhibition.
“A Chinese ink painting series might be a normal exhibit at other galleries, but at Findars, it’s definitely something unusual. I think the Findars crowd can relate – hopefully – to such a show, while Chinese art enthusiasts can discover Findars,” he adds.
Wong, who turns 37 later this month, maintains he never lost interest in art despite not actively pursuing his passion for years.
“But I needed something to pay the bills. It’s not easy making art as a career in Kuching,” he says.
Wong works as a gem artist at a jewellery shop in downtown Kuching. He graduated from the Malaysian Institute of Art in 2001, and after appearing at a few group shows in KL some years ago, he had all but left art on the backburner.
“This show has been a long time coming. I do sketch and paint at home, but to actually prepare for an exhibition was a challenge,” he admits.
“Last year, I spoke to (Tey) Beng Tze (one of Findars’ founders) and he offered me the opportunity to exhibit at Findars. I put myself back into the artist frame of mind and spent this entire year working the brushes, paper and strokes.”
Wong’s In The Natural Moment exhibition isn’t tied strictly to bamboo, orchid, plum blossom and chrysanthemum images or animals from the Chinese Zodiac. Instead, he explores the aesthetics of nature and paints to the rhythms of the Borneo rainforests.
Departing from its depiction of towering landscapes, Wong utilises the vocabulary of Chinese ink painting to capture local scenes. In his works, you can find songbirds perched on the boughs of old trees – but he says he seeks to channel a deeper sense of reflection.
“Yes, there are pretty birds. But those scenes of paradise come from an imagined world. Perhaps my memories of the past. The jungles in Borneo are disappearing fast. In a small way, I want to remind people about how close we are to losing the untamed beauty of Malaysia’s natural heritage.”
In The Natural Moment is on at Findars, 4th Floor, No.8 Jalan Panggong, Kuala Lumpur, from Nov 13 to 20. The gallery is open daily from noon to 6pm. For more information, visit facebook.com/findars.