Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? Head on over to Bad Taste: An Illustration Exhibition at Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space in Kuala Lumpur, to put that theory to the test.
Organised and curated by the members of Meet The Kawan - comprising Minifanfan (aka Gee Fan Eng), Yuwen Ong and Yunroo - this exhibition aims to spotlight the contemporary illustration scene in Malaysia.
It features the works of 11 local artists, while 14 international artists from Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain and Taiwan are also in the line-up.
“As artists and designers, we have been trained on the principles of design aesthetics during our many years of art education. But the general public might have a different idea of what beauty is. This led us to ask the question, what is beauty? Are ugliness and beauty two opposing ideas or can something be both ugly and beautiful at the same time?
"With these questions in mind, this exhibition explores the idea of beauty, and the roles of ugliness and beauty. From ugly signboards to unpleasant everyday situations, we intend to reassess them by illustrations, to invoke a common unpleasant memory and feeling, and to spark a conversation with our audience,” says Yunroo.
The idea for Bad Taste first came up at the end of 2019, a time where the most common genre of illustration was anime-style comic art or traditional, realistic looking art, she notes.
Contemporary illustration was hardly in the spotlight.
“Many people also think that one is truly a ‘good’ artist only if you are able to draw realistically. By showcasing the diverse art styles at Bad Taste, especially from our international guests, we hope to inspire young artists who are interested in pursuing contemporary illustration, and give them the courage to do so.
"For the public, we wish to introduce contemporary illustration to them, and at the same time, showcase our local talents. Many visitors have expressed surprise at the quality of our local artists’ works and we are honoured to be presenting them,” she adds.
The artists in Bad Taste each brought their distinctive perspective, style and interpretation of “bad” and “taste” to this show.
The result is a diverse range of works spanning digital collage, paper works, gouache, acrylic, pastels, sculpture and installation.
In a collaboration with motion designer Kar Hang, a series of six short animations is also displayed at the exhibition.
Reflecting the fun, energetic and seemingly chaotic spirit of the exhibition, this animation project draws on the conceptualisation of an imaginative mini-mart that sells random knick-knacks. There are many familiar images here, like the toilet paper with a “panic” label on it, inspired by the toilet paper frenzy at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and a banana, which is a dig at Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s “The Comedian” at Miami’s Art Basel which was simply a fresh banana duct-taped to a wall.
Besides the exhibition, there will be an Illustration Forum - Staying Creative In An Ever-Changing World on Jan 22 (7.30-9.30pm) with Apohapoh, Art:tech and Kathrin Honesta, held on-site and virtually. This is a ticketed event (RM50 in person and RM20 virtually).
“Apohapoh has been working as a tattoo artist and illustrator for years, Art:tech as a multidisciplinary artist, and Kathrin Honesta is known for her editorial illustrations. In this forum, we will be talking about the challenges and changes the artists have made or encountered during the pandemic, and how they use social media and technology to their advantage.
"Since they have been working in this line for years, we are also curious about their respective creative journeys and setbacks, and the way they overcame negativity. These are the topics which we find relevant especially during the pandemic, and we hope our audience would find these topics interesting as well,” says Yunroo.
Bad Taste: An Illustration Exhibition is on at Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space, Jalan Panggong in Kuala Lumpur till Jan 23. Opening hours: 1pm-7pm on weekdays, 1pm-9pm on weekends.
More info here.