Young, Talented and Malaysian

24 March 2017

Balai Seni gives recognition to emerging talents in support of an artistic career.

“The first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. to write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.” – Chuck Palahniuk, American novelist and journalist.

The author of the infamous best-seller ‘Fight Club’ is much an expressionist; having an ideal life perspective where society’s development revolves around art and culture. The manic creative couldn’t be more spot on, as the Rakyat and groups of aspiring young minds filled the galleries of Balai Seni Negara admiring the works of the finalists for Bakat Muda Sezaman 2016 (Young Contemporary Award 2016). Since its inception in 1974, the annual Bakat Muda Sezaman aims to celebrate emerging talents in support of building their career as artists thus reshaping our society’s take on understanding art.

On 15th March 2017, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz officiated the launch of the competition and awarded the winners of Bakat Muda Sezaman 2016. This year, 62 artists submitted meticulously-crafted works to be evaluated by 2 jury panels, where only 33 made it to the final stage.

Shim Pui San with her installation of micro-sculptures entitled ‘Not So Far Away’.

Saiful Razman's ' Kau Di Sini Untuk Menghilang/You're Here to Disappear''.

In a very unexpected turn of events, this year’s award for the Main Prize went to 2 artists; Shim Pui San with her installation of micro-sculptures entitled ‘Not So Far Away’ (one has to use a magnifying glass to fully appreciate the piece) and Saiful Razman, who presented a spatial and material-based installation entitled ‘Kau Di Sini Untuk Menghilang/You’re Here to Disappear’. The main prize winners were awarded a cash prize of RM25,000 and the five Jury’s Award winners took home RM5,000.

After completing the prize giving ceremony, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz accompanied by the Chairman and Head Director of the Development Board of Balai Seni Negara, YBhg. Datuk Seri Ridzuan and Ybhg. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa proceeded to the galleries, the crowd ensued as the halls of Balai Seni Negara captured and contained their awe.

Despite of not making it to the winners list, the installation ‘Mooring’ by Kee Hooi San which consists of handcrafted ceramic pieces and oddly shaped mirrors delivered an ethereal sensation with the mere use of reflections; a simple yet strong delivery of the concept that we are all passengers in a sea of personalities.

Muhammad Colmann bin Abdullah capitalised on kinetic sensors and 3D storytelling which interpreted the biblical Gog and Magog in his artwork entitled ‘Not Our Fight’ – an interactive piece that initially started with an idea of 2D animation using Chinese ink, which evolved into an immersive installation, combining his approach as a Masters undergraduate in Computer Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

All 4 galleries on both floors that hosted the works of Bakat Muda Sezaman were buzzing with enthrallment. Fine art students from various institutions flocked from corner to corner marveled by the installations and paintings, while groups of families were seen appreciating artworks together. Although the reception was not as massive as last year’s event, the enjoyment of the contested artworks was more relaxed and casual, with a sense of comfort in the air – as opposed to experiences in commercial galleries around town.

Saiful Razman delivered a similar experience, deconstructing the format of viewing an artwork, removing the stigma of how one should behave during a gallery visit. Utilising medical gauze tape, a wire and the space of the gallery, his piece ‘You’re Here to Disappear’ (inspired by a very personal experience) allows gallery visitors to touch, flip, and even go around Saiful Razman’s work to comprehend one of the 2 winning installations.

Being the prestigious art national art competition that BMS ’16 is, every submission has its own magnetic pull – be it revolving around political, historical or social matters, every artwork displayed stood out as much thought and hard work were poured into the construction of the artworks. An effort to bring local talents in the field of the arts to a higher level of appreciation and recognition should not just be embraced by the relevant Ministries and governing bodies, but should also sprout from the minds and consciousness of the Rakyat. Many of us may well be accustomed to big contemporary names such as Yayoi Kusama or Ai Weiwei, but without our support local artist might not have a supportive ecosystem for them to keep on producing great work.

Well done to the winners and contestants of Bakat Muda Sezaman 2016! Art may be subjective, but we tend to forget that art is also inclusive–be curious and be a part of it.

Immerse in the finalists’ artworks contested for Bakat Muda Sezaman 2016, running now till the 30th of April in galleries 2A,2B,3A & 3B of Balai Seni Negara, Jalan Temerloh, Kuala Lumpur.

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