Weekend for the arts: REXKL marks 5 years, 'Searching For Soul' documentary


A view of the 'Other World' digital art exhibition at REXKL. This weekend, the arts venue is celebrating its 5th anniversary with the activity-filled REXFEST, which will run from Nov 24-26. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

ARTS EVENT: 'REXFEST'

Venue: REXKL, Jalan Sultan

Date: Nov 24-26

This weekend, REXKL, an urban arts hub occupying the former Rex cinema, is marking its fifth anniversary with the REXFEST. The festival - set for a busy three-day buzz - will roll out a wide-ranging programme (free and ticketed) featuring live music, digital art, workshops, performances, exhibitions, a community arts market, heritage walks in the Chinatown area, deejay sets, a poetry slam and more.

If you're keen on painting, "The Paint The Bloom In Love" workshop series (ticketed) on Nov 25 and 26 (11am-1pm) will see French-trained veteran artist Long Thien Shih guiding participants through the process of capturing the beauty of flowers with the medium of watercolour on paper. A "Street Art Sesh" this weekend offers the masses a live graffiti jam session with street artists Nestwo and KOS.

On Nov 25, the Kuantum Project will be unveiling the late night Saturday bender "Forgotten Facades," an audiovisual event blending electronic music, reimagined architectural designs (inspired by the old cinema building's past facades), and visual projections. Poetry slam series "Hush & Snap: Off The Book" is also an activity to check out on Nov 26 (3pm-5pm).

The "Odyssey: Soundscape x Filamen" finale event on Nov 26 (5pm-11pm) is a collaboration between independent music and digital art. Soundscape Records is curating the music line-up, including bands such as Dirgahayu, The Times, Kyoto Protocol and Shelhiel. Filamen, a digital art collective, will contribute an immersive art experience featuring artists such as Grasshopper, Futuresigner, Jiajia and Vasflow.

More info here.

DOCUMENTARY: SEARCHING FOR SOUL

Venue: Rumah Tangsi, KL

Date: Nov 25, 6.30pm

The premiere screening of documentary Searching For Soul, featuring directors Zan Azlee, Hidayah Hisham, Noor Fairyyantie, and Kalash Nanda Kumar, will take place at Rumah Tangsi this Saturday.

The film project, presented by Think City, The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur and Fat Bidin, was produced in conjunction with the Japanese Film Festival and 50th anniversary of Asean - Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Searching For Soul features four intrepid Malaysian filmmakers tracking down urban stories in Kuala Lumpur and later using their findings to make comparisons with Kyojima in Sumida City, Tokyo. In theory, downtown Kuala Lumpur and Kyojima are similar - both are considered the “old” part of the city, both are going through some sort of gentrification, and both are also trying hard to preserve their heritage.

The final product is an omnibus montage of past, present and future that transcends generations and cultures. In the film, viewers can observe how people gravitate towards houses of worship in Kuala Lumpur while in Kyojima, family institutions hold everything together. A short film by local Kyojima documentarian Ayumu Haitani will be screened as a prelude to the main film.

After its KL debut show, Searching For Soul, produced by Zan Azlee and Sheril A. Bustaman, will also be screened in Penang, Ipoh, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu.

More info here.

The main form of expression of Cambodian arts duo Ny&Khun (Ny Lai and Khun Sreynoch) is dance/theatre, combined with photography and painting. Photo: Rimbun Dahan The main form of expression of Cambodian arts duo Ny&Khun (Ny Lai and Khun Sreynoch) is dance/theatre, combined with photography and painting. Photo: Rimbun Dahan

RIMBUN DAHAN OPEN DAY

Venue: Rimbun Dahan, Kuang, Selangor

Date: Nov 26

For its final Open Day of the year, Rimbun Dahan is showcasing nine of its resident artists - the largest group ever for a public event there. In a series of workshops and studio sessions, the artists will share the results of their arts residencies at Rimbun Dahan on Sunday from 9am to 6pm.

The independent arts venue is located in Kuang, Selangor, just 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.

The line-up of artists include Shirin Rafie and Liz Liu from Wild Dot (Singapore), who are completing their second month of residency at Rimbun Dahan, investigating the colour palette of plants and unwanted materials in the space. Malaysian artist Wong Ming Hao is undertaking a three-month residency and he is experimenting with the possibilities of his paint-skin collages with inspiration from human relationships with nature.

Manila-based artist Marionne Contreras will be delving into botanical printing of plants foraged from the garden, in an act of remembering her hometown, tracing her lineage, and necessarily failing to replicate the beauty of nature, while Cambodian contemporary art duo Ny&Khun will be reflecting upon their future directions, and developing a new contemporary dance work, Pilgrim.

The Open Day at Rimbun Dahan is a walk-in, free admission event. Visitors can drop in for a day of art and meet all the artists. Don’t forget to check out the open studios, writing workshop and contemporary dance sharing. You can also BYO picnic and enjoy the tropical garden surroundings. All visitors should be mindful of the natural and cultural landscapes and should take steps to minimise their impact while touring the green and beautiful Rimbun Dahan.

More info here.

Ainaa Farhanah and Branden Lim (right) are seen at the 'Art For Rare' group exhibition at GMBB in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Ainaa Farhanah/FacebookAinaa Farhanah and Branden Lim (right) are seen at the 'Art For Rare' group exhibition at GMBB in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Ainaa Farhanah/Facebook

EXHIBITION: ‘ART FOR RARE’ GROUP SHOW

Venue: Level 2, GMBB, KL

Date: ends Dec 3

The Art For Rare group exhibition, featuring the talents of siblings Branden and Jaden Lim, Ainaa Farhanah, Eugene Ngan, Nurul Hikmah, Nurhana Yusof, Priyasagaran and Tan Kay-Leigh, offers a survey of paintings, mixed media art, landscapes and abstract works made by young individuals living with rare diseases and disabilities.

At the show, visitors can discover the stories behind these resilient and creative artists.

Nurul, who suffers from Bilateral Congenital Cataracts of unknown cause, paints with confidence and flair. Hers is a rare condition that is mostly inherited from a person’s family lineage. Nurul’s vision is greatly affected, which adds a unique layer to her artistic story. Teenager Branden, who is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), has been painting to strengthen his hands since he was two. He uses fingers, brushes and other cool tools to create his diverse artworks. Ainaa, who is also diagnosed with SMA, is another artist to brighten any gallery space and beyond with her wonderful colours, doodles and crafting.

Apart from learning about all the artists and their stories at this GMBB show, art lovers will be amazed by the range of works on parade. The showcase, presented by the community-based frienden.arts, features 80 artworks, a testament of the incredible artistic skills, imagination and unwavering spirit of these eight artists.

Beyond the artworks, there's a range of merchandise featuring these artists’ creations, available for purchase.

More info here.

Lee Mok Yee's 'Memory No. 2' (wooden pyramid, wood, mirrored stainless steel, 2023). Photo: Handout Lee Mok Yee's 'Memory No. 2' (wooden pyramid, wood, mirrored stainless steel, 2023). Photo: Handout

EXHIBITION: LEE MOK YEE'S 'THE PYRAMID SERIES'

Venue: Rissim Contemporary, KL

Date: Nov 25-Dec 17

The Back Room Gallery and Rissim Contemporary are presenting Lee Mok Yee’s The Pyramid Series, which opens this Saturday. The exhibition presents a new body of work created between 2021–2023 by the mid-career Lee, comprising 15 sculptural wall-mounted and free-standing works made with mass-produced wooden pyramid pieces and mirrored stainless steel.

The works utilise wooden pyramids in varying sizes, normally used as ornamental touches on household furniture and fixtures (toppers on staircase banisters, or patterns on a wardrobe), and mirrored stainless steel cut into small triangles.

The pyramids are arranged into random shapes resembling Tetris pieces or pixellated shapes, with the mirrors affixed to different faces of the pyramids. The works, mounted on the walls like paintings yet jutting out and fabricated like sculptures, offer multiple angles for appreciation, with angled viewing offering a different effect from a frontal view. They also have a somewhat interactive or changeable element, by their ability to reflect light and the viewer’s face, fragmenting the whole into shards and bouncing off light in different ways. All of the frames have been hand-built according to each work’s shape.

More info here.

Poojitha Menon's 'Letters From The Land' installation, which takes inspiration from the archaeological findings where Tamil writings have been found on cloth. This work represents a physical and metaphorical exploration into the multifaceted beauty of the Tamil script. Photo: Handout Poojitha Menon's 'Letters From The Land' installation, which takes inspiration from the archaeological findings where Tamil writings have been found on cloth. This work represents a physical and metaphorical exploration into the multifaceted beauty of the Tamil script. Photo: Handout

EXHIBITION: 'THE TRUTH UNTOLD': A FUSION OF TAMIL TYPOGRAPHY AND CALLIGRAPHY

Venue: ArtVoice Gallery, Sentul, KL

Date: ends Nov 30

The Truth Untold exhibition offers a unique journey into the world of Tamil typography and calligraphy.

The show, curated by artist-printmaker Stephen Menon, features 20 artists presenting a fresh perspective on these ancient art forms that are deeply rooted in history, language and culture.

Apart from Menon, the show's line-up includes familiar names such as Syed Thajudeen, KF Choy, Mat Ali Mat Som, and Lim Siang Jin. Newer names such as Poojitha Menon, Sanker Ganesh, Moly and Tamaka have also come into their own in this exhibition, featuring paintings, mixed media and installations.

Each artist has reimagined the Tamil characters and scripts in their works, some even unveiling the untold stories they carry within. The exhibition is also providing a space for young artists to explore the versatility of Tamil script.

"The Truth Untold promises to be a cultural milestone, inviting visitors to engage with the beauty and depth of Tamil typography and calligraphy, while simultaneously exploring the creative expressions of the artists. It offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the stories concealed within the graceful curves and lines of this ancient script, as interpreted by these Malaysian artists," reads the exhibition's notes.

More info here.

Artists Simon (left) and Maddocks seen at the 'Pagar & Padi' exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Star/Glenn Guan Artists Simon (left) and Maddocks seen at the 'Pagar & Padi' exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: The Star/Glenn Guan

EXHIBITION: 'PAGAR & PADI'

Venue: The Back Room, Zhongshan Building, KL

Date: end Nov 26

It's the last weekend to check out the Pagar & Padi exhibition by Sabah and Sarawak-based artists Catriona Maddocks and Gindung McFeddy Simon at The Back Room gallery in KL.

It was first exhibited throughout August–September 2023 at Kota-K Art Gallery in Kota Kinabalu.

The Sabah-inspired Pagar & Padi is an exhibition that presents the documentation of a piece of land art created by Maddocks and Simon in collaboration with community members of Kampung Kilimu, a rural village at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. In 2022, the artist collaborator duo participated in the annual “Mongomot” rice-planting event, using heritage rice grains to spell out the word “JAMIN” (“guarantee” in Malay) into the earth at Kampung Kilimu.

In March, the artists harvested the padi and documented the process through drone photography and videography. The documentation was presented first at Kota-K art gallery. Early this month, the artists returned to the padi fields in Ranau to re-plant the land art, and the documentation is being exhibited, in a slightly adapted form, at The Back Room gallery.

More info here.

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