The latest Rimbun Dahan exhibition is a tribute to diversity and talent
The word “bricolage” is not one you usually hear in everyday conversation, and that is a pity. The word evokes cooperation and diversity, of bringing forth the beautiful from the offbeat. Its definition, after all, is the artistic or literary construction or creation from a diverse range of available things.
An apt description for the Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition 2015, which features a diverse display of work created by five artists of different backgrounds during their stay at the Rimbun Dahan Arts Centre.
“The sum parts of our exhibition are varied and unique, but they will come together to make a show reflecting not just these artists’ singular experiences living and working in Rimbun Dahan, but also their unified and shared experience of working in the same place and alongside one another in the same surroundings,” said Rimbun Dahan arts manager Syar S Alia.
Rimbun Dahan is the home of renowned architect Hijjas Kasturi and his wife Angela. Set on 5.6ha (14 acres) outside Kuala Lumpur, the compound of Rimbun Dahan is a centre for developing traditional and contemporary art forms. It features buildings designed by Hijjas Kasturi, as well as a 19th century traditional Malay house, in an indigenous garden environment.
Bricolage features works from Malaysian sculptor Anniketyni Madian, Australian artist Jennifer Tyers, Indonesian poet Khairani Barokka, Vietnamese painter and sculptor Tran Dan, and Thai painter Yuwatee Jehko.
Kuching-based Anniketyni said she was glad to be part of the residency this year, after having applied for two years.
“Rimbun Dahan, for me, is a very artistic residency. They have hosted a lot of senior and established artists, like Abdul Multhalib Musa. So the residency is a good platform for me to build up my name and career. It’s a chance to bring my work up to an international level, and I’m very happy to be here,” said Anniketyni, who had extended her six-month stay to nine months for the exhibition.
Anniketyni is contributing 10 pieces for this exhibition, which consist of sculptures of various sizes and designs. Her works, such as Bali Belulai III and IV, Design Study 1 and 2, and #Alhamdullilah are all intricately carved, with her largest piece, Kara Jangkit, measuring about 5m long.
Her works incorporate designs from the Pua Kumbu textiles of her native Sarawak, which are woven by Dayak women and incorporated in many lifecycle rituals and special events including childbirth, coming of age ceremonies, and undertaking. It’s considered a sacred activity mandatory for all Iban women.
“I think it is important to promote culture through art. Pua kumbu is very famous in fashion as a textile. So why not incorporate it into sculpture?” said the sculptor, who is half-Malay and half-Iban.
Anniketyni said she hoped her works would help develop the Malaysian sculpture scene. She added that with its focus on tools and machines, sculpture was often perceived as a male-dominated art, and she hoped she could help shatter that illusion.
“I want to bring some support to young artists and newcomers. Maybe once they see my work, they will know that women can do these things,” said Anniketyni with a giggle.
Tasmanian artist Jennifer Tyers, on the other hand, hoped that people would be able to get enjoyment from her work, which consisted of watercolour paintings of the grounds of Rimbun Dahan.
“There are a few from the front area of Rimbun Dahan. Some have the pond in them, and some are from around the guesthouse,” said the soft-spoken artist, who is interested in plein air painting.
Tyers described her work as “a little bit abstract”, saying she preferred painting natural landscapes with a variety of vegetation, due to their variance of shape and colour.
“I do feel like landscapes should be a response to what you see, and not just a copy of what you’re looking at. You add what you’re feeling into it,” said Tyers, who will be displaying 10 paintings. All are titled Malaysia, but will be numbered differently.
“Feeling” was also of major importance to poet Khairani, who had been in Rimbun Dahan for three months already.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s so rare to have a residency like this, which is so encouraging, but allows artists to be very autonomous,” said Khairani.
The jovial poet said she had been working on three books of poetry since arriving at the residency. One of them, she said, was called Oil And Enamel On Linen, and would comprise over 50 poems on visual art.
“Each poem is inspired by an artwork, or the sense of art. For some example, there are four other artists in this residency other than me, and there’s a poem on each of them, inspired by their work! There’s a poem about wood sculpture about Anni’s work, a poem on watercolour about Jen’s work, a poem called Watercolour about Dan’s work, and so on!” added Khairani.
She said that for the exhibition, she would be presenting 10 poems presented as artwork, written in calligraphy and displayed through different mediums.
“For poetry, you usually publish them in magazines and journals. But I was like, what if I published them as works of calligraphy in an art exhibit setting? It’s still publishing, and I thought it would be an interesting experiment, straddling the worlds of art and literature,” said Khairani.
“I don’t know what the response will be, but we’ll see! I hope to get varied reactions, and start a discussion about the role of literature in the art world.”
With its eclectic mix of sculpture, poetry and painting, the latest Rimbun Dahan exhibition will certainly be a bricolage to look forward to.
> Bricolage: Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition 2015 takes place from March 15-22 at Rimbun Dahan, Km 27 (entrance before Lorong Belimbing), Jalan Kuang, Kuang, Selangor. Opening hours are 10am-6pm on weekends and by appointment on weekdays. There will also be a guided tour of the Rimbun Dahan gardens and traditional houses by Angela Hijjas on March 22. For more information, contact email@example.com or visit rimbundahan.org.