Masks on the move

Art September 16, 2017 12:42

By The Nation

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Twenty-eight works on painted panels by Malaysian artist Haffendi Anuar will be on show at Richard Koh Fine Art in Kuala Lumpur from September 21 to October 7 in an exhibition titled “Migratory Objects”.

This is Anuar’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery and an extension of his recent solo feature in VOLTA New York earlier this year.  Anuar continues to expand on his New York feature of the same title through clusters of anthropomorphic panel pieces evocative of masks. Displayed as free-standing sculptures and wall mounted pieces, the works come together collectively as an immersive installation.

A novice mask collector himself, Anuar first encountered tribal masks through his travels. Having further invested in this interest, the plethora of ceremonial and tribal masks made available internationally through the internet reminded him of the movements and dissemination of seeds, scattered across the globe by the migration of birds.

He places emphasis on the translation of cultural artefacts into currency through a lush green landscape backdrop captured in Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur.

This is reminiscent of the artist’s encounter with an eco-tourism campaign of his homeland in Central London during his student days. The familiar visual of lush forestry set against a foreign and displaced environment sparked the idea of the “tourist gaze”, a by-product of commercial tourism posters disseminated for promotion of a country, and how this is being consumed. The panel pieces are the artist’s idea of pixelated Dayak and Iban masks as a result of fictitious movement and the upload and download of these images through online trade portals.

The series is accompanied by irregular silhouettes of wooden sculptures made up of conjoined souvenir ready-mades, with their surfaces painted over and sanded down.

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