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Festive lanterns get an artistic twist in the hands of local artists


Glow of the season displayed in de-light-ful exhibits.

NEED a bright and shining Year of the Goat? Then head down to Kuala Lumpur’s Publika Boulevard, which has come alive with a series of “de-light-ful” lantern exhibits to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Conceived and constructed by three sets of artists and art collectives, these curiously-shaped lanterns will certainly add an artistic twist to the festive season.

The great red spiralling structures of Nizam Sculptures, seen in the airspace overhead the Boulevard, are inspired by the curved horns of majestic mountain goats. These six horns, titled Spiral Of Hope And Optimism, are made from metal and plastic paper, and then coated in rosewood shellac.

Nizam Sculptures is run by the sculptor and painter, Nizam Abdullah, whose sculptural works and specially commissioned benches can be seen throughout the Publika mall.

“The challenge was getting the flow of the shape right. Making sure that people could see the horn in it, and not a snake, or something like that. I did it by cutting the sculptures, so one part was flat, and another was pointed,” says Nizam, who added it took him over two weeks to create these sculptures.

“It was also hard to ensure the balance of keeping it abstract, and also allowing the horn shape to be seen,” he adds.

Also on display is Lentera 16, a series of 16 handmade free form lanterns designed by Pertubuhan Pengkarya Seni Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Artists Organisation). Made from rattan and paper, these lanterns were inspired by forms in nature.

Biji-biji Intiatives the Lantern project at Publika in Kuala Lumpur, which uses recycled watercooler bottles controlled by electronics. The entire work utilises low power LED lights with motion sensors that glow brighter when theres movement below it. - M. Azhar Arif
Biji-biji Intiatives the Lantern project at Publika in Kuala Lumpur, which uses recycled watercooler bottles controlled by electronics. The entire work utilises low power LED lights with motion sensors that glow brighter when theres movement below it. 

“The basic idea was to create a new take on the lantern concept. We wanted to base the design on simple forms of nature. We were inspired by biomorphic shapes,” says Elias Yamani Ismail, the spokesman from this independent group of artists.

Each lantern structure, as Elias revealed, is based on a unique and distinctive measurement method in the Malay culture, which calculates size, proposition, length, depth, weight and height using the body as a tool of measurement.

Apart from Elias, the Lentera 16 project is a collaboration between Zulfakal Ali, Ady Ezwan Nordin and German artist Astrid Koppe.

“Lentera 16” is a series of free form lanterns made out of a rattan and paper, inspired by biomorphic shapes.
Lentera 16 is a series of free form lanterns made out of a rattan and paper, inspired by biomorphic shapes.

Was Lentera 16 driven by any tradition, or is it a purely contemporary project?

“There is tradition in the mix – meaning it takes the idea of the lantern. The contemporary idea comes from nature and the works themselves are inspired by installation art,” adds Elias.

Those heading to The Square on Level G2 at the mall, on the other hand, will be able to enjoy the Lantern project, a unique set of bottle-lights created by the Biji-biji Initiative.

These are recycled 9.5 litre watercooler bottles, electronically controlled, and fixed with low-power LED lights. Thanks to motion sensors, these bottles will glow brighter with more movement beneath them. That should explain the curious crowd converging in the area below these “bottle-light lanterns.”

“We were asked to do some Chinese lanterns. But we thought it would be nice if we could do something new, with electronics and stuff,” says Ashvin Pal Singh, an installation artist with the collective Biji-biji Initiative, which has pushed for green technology and sustainable living standards since 2012.

“The lanterns light up more if there is a busy crowd below them. Here’s a post-modernistic approach to lanterns,” he adds.

According to Ashvin, 10 people from the Biji-biji Initiative worked on the Lantern Project, and 80 watercooler bottles were used. These bottles were painted in Chinese New Year colours, with some bearing goat designs.

All three installations at Publika can be viewed daily until March 10.

   

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