The Print Room’s latest exhibition explores the whole notion of the human form.
Nudity. Stark, sensual, blatant. Those descriptions do come to mind when it comes to celebrating the human form. It is a complex – often forbidden – subject in some circles. Everybody has an opinion when the word “body” is mentioned in relation to photography, or through similar artful mediums.
When English photographer Paul Gadd, the director of The Print Room in Petaling Jaya in Selangor, revealed the theme of his gallery’s then upcoming exhibition, he said people took it with a pinch of salt.
“We had some problems because as soon as you mentioned the word ‘body’, people sort of backed off, thinking nudity was involved. But that was not the case. You can represent the body however you want,” explained Gadd.
And that is exactly what the gallery’s latest photography exhibition called Body set out to do. When you walk into the exhibition space, you would probably pause momentarily and muse. Slowly, your perception on the whole topic will begin to take another form and you will realise that nudity is not the be all and end all, after all.
Featuring the works of 11 photographers, including three South Koreans, the exhibition mostly moves away from the ubiquitous naked human form, and looks at the subject matter rather differently. The group exibition features works by Gadd, Koh Yeo Myoung, Melissa Lim, Linda Chin, Kim Do Han, Lisa Foo, Phes, Johan Hamidon, Gaithiri Siva, Shung Yen and Kwon Hyuk Min. This exhibition, which is The Print Room’s first this year, challenges the whole notion of body and endeavours to depict different facets of it.
“We tried to represent the body without being too obvious and blatant about it,” asserted Gadd.
What’s more, all the photographs in Body were shot using film, which is the signature format of The Print Room.
The results are both stunning and intriguing. Take for instance the series of photographs by Melissa Lim. Using light and shadow, Lim stripped away the complexities of the human body and focused instead on its simplicity. The silhouetted human frame – reminiscent of the “shower curtain scene” in the movie Psycho – is shown through a muslin sheet.
“From behind the muslin emerges a silhouette that conveys a sense of drama, emotion, freedom and mystery, allowing one’s imagination to wander and ponder,” said Lim.
Linda Chin, on the other hand, shot oysters for her Venus series. At first glance, they may appear as nothing more than oysters but the allusion comes across more clearly later on.
“The Venus series aims to highlight the individuality of the human body, and the position that no one should be pressured to conform to unrealistic expectations imposed by those around them,” stated Chin.
Lisa Foo’s series Discover The Full Body is also a highlight. Her work is printed on blocks of wood, which added the element of art installation into this exhibition space for the first time. By using liquid light, as we found out, film photographers can use different surfaces instead of paper to bring their images to life.
Gadd’s own series, called RGB, referring to the three primary colours in light (red, green and blue), is a vibrant rush of photographic instinct and technique. Depicting only body outlines, Gadd added a new filter for every shot, creating new colours and giving a three dimensional sense to a two dimensional image.
Some images even looked like a steam-punk version of a Picasso painting.
The enigma of the body – seen through the eyes of these talented photographers – is too hard to resist and so is this exhibition.
Body is on at The Print Room (49, Lorong 16/9E, Section 16, Petaling Jaya, Selangor) till June 15. Open weekends from 2pm to 7pm. On weekdays, the show is open for viewing by appointment. Call 012 337 2903, log on to theprintroomkl.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.