It isn’t often that the White Box gallery at Publika in Kuala Lumpur can be faulted for lacking wall space.

But the second edition of the Young Guns series, which opened at the venue recently, has definitely made the gallery look more snug in size with 16 large works giving this exhibition considerable visual impact and wall power.

“The works for Young Guns 2016 are definitely sizeable. Some of the recipients created their biggest ever works. The whole of the White Box has been filled up, very nicely,” says Bayu Utomo Radjikin, the director of Hom Art Trans gallery and founder of the Young Guns award series.

Young Guns, an independent awards event/travelling exhibition, celebrates noteworthy young Malaysian artists (aged below 33) once every three years. The first edition, which featured 13 artists, was held in November 2013. The prize offers an artist the opportunity to participate in the Young Guns (award) exhibition, which is a Hom Art Trans initiative. This edition features 16 recipients, mostly individual artists, who have exhibited solo shows, and also two collectives – Studio Pisang and Galeri Titik Merah.

Bayu Utomo Radjikin (right) talking to Ajim Juxta about his work Alive, Even Flow, Garden (acrylic on canvas, triptych, 2016), which features Pearl Jam song titles. Photo: The Star/Faihan Ghani

Bayu Utomo Radjikin (right) talking to Ajim Juxta about his work Alive, Even Flow, Garden (acrylic on canvas, triptych, 2016), which features Pearl Jam song titles. Photo: The Star/Faihan Ghani

The artists on show at Young Guns 2016, include Sabihis Md Pandi, 27, Anniketyni Madian, 30, Ajim Juxta, 32, Edroger C. Rosili, 31, Fawwaz Sukri, 29, Gan Tee Sheng, 32, Hisyamuddin Abdullah, 27, Jamil Zakaria, 31, Khairuddin Zainudin, 29, Faizal Suhif, 32, Yim Yen Sum, 29, Shafiq Nordin, 27, Hafiz Shahimi, 30, Meor Saifulah Lulaed, 32, Khairul Izham, 31, and Syahbandi Samat, 24.

Every artist has a “big” say in this exhibition, according to Bayu.

“However, I do have to admit it was a challenge transporting and mounting some of their the works,” he adds candidly.

For instance, Sabihis really reaches for the heights with his politically-bent Tertinggi exhibit, a woodcut on MDF board work, which stands over 3m tall. Sabah-born artist Edroger drew inspiration from his own acrylic on canvas work in 2012. He contributes the massive The Greatest View Of the Similarities In Features Between The Pinnacles Of Two Different Nations (Revisited) – a pulp clay installation of his early canvas piece.

Faizal Suhif's Sebesar Zarah (monoprint and oil on canvas, 2016). Photo: Hom Art Trans

Faizal Suhif’s Sebesar Zarah (monoprint and oil on canvas, 2016). Photo: Hom Art Trans

Faizal, who is never from the mankind and nature debate, contributes the ambitiously large scale Sebesar Zarah, a monoprint and oil on canvas diptych, which towers over the rest of the exhibits. Even Ajim, joins in the fray with his Pearl Jam-inspired Alive, Even Flow, Garden, an acrylic on canvas triptych, which is his most extensive piece to date.

The Studio Pisang collective, featuring Shafiq, Hisyamuddin and Sabihis, also has its own corner at Young Guns 2016.

Lost heritage and themes of abandonment still play a strong role in Gan’s work and his Delusion (3) is a ghostly cold reminder of his signature obscured painting style. Meanwhile, Yim’s We Are All Stardust sensitively assembled work, which features embroidery, gauze and acrylic, carries forward her concerns over fading culture and frayed lives.

Syahbandi Samat's Monster Under The Bed II (ballpoint pen and white pencil on canvas, 2016). Photo: Hom Art Trans

Syahbandi Samat’s Monster Under The Bed II (ballpoint pen and white pencil on canvas, 2016). Photo: Hom Art Trans

“We tracked the careers of these young artists for three years, talked to them regularly, made studio visits and also consulted their respective galleries. Also, I wouldn’t say Young Guns is a launchpad series.

“This year, the age range is between 24 and 32. Most of them have already been evolving their art. If they haven’t exhibited a lot … it can be frustrating. This crop has been consistent and busy with art. We are talking about artists at the ‘turning point’ of their career.

“As such, Young Guns provides a meeting point, for art enthusiasts and these young and upcoming artists who, despite making amazing works, have yet to reach a wider collector base.”

The conversation concerning young artists, as Bayu reckons, should also be extended to curators, cultural bureaucrats and educators.

The idea of “keeping people in art” appeals to Bayu, 47, and, as an artist himself, he knows the value of industry encouragement.

Sabihis Md Pandi's Tertinggi (MDF board, 2016) is his biggest work to date. It is part of the Young Guns 2016 art exhibition. Photo: The Star/Faihan Ghani

Sabihis Md Pandi’s Tertinggi (MDF board, 2016) is his biggest work to date. It is part of the Young Guns 2016 art exhibition. Photo: The Star/Faihan Ghani

“Malaysia needs more long-term career artists. It’s all hard work, but if someone is serious about an art career, I think, a support network isn’t a bad thing. If something like Young Guns can open doors and bring opportunities (for young artists), then we will push ahead,” he promises.

Young Guns 2016 is showing at White Box till Jan 21. Open daily, 11am to 8pm. The exhibition runs at MAPS Iskandar Puteri in Johor from Jan 23 to Feb 5 and Whiteaways Arcade, George Town in Penang fom Feb 8 to 21. Admission is free for all exhibitions. More info at www.homarttrans.com.

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